09.09.2018 Health News

Digital twin for knee pain

Digital technology to help people with ‘bad knees’.

One in five Australians over the age of 45 suffer from painful and debilitating osteoarthritis, with the knee being the most commonly affected joint.

Now Australian researchers have developed computer simulations of joint and muscle movements that can teach us how to exercise smarter and prevent knee pain and further damage.

The work undertaken at Queensland’s Griffith University is making computer avatars or ‘digital twins’ of individual patients to see how their muscles and joints work.

“We use computer simulations to understand how people use their muscles,” says lead researcher Dr Claudio Pizzolato. “Then we can help patients reduce stress and impact on their joints by learning how to move differently when they walk and exercise.”

The digital twins are personalised using medical imaging and help researchers to understand how people use their muscles and how that affects the forces in their knees.

“We are able to calculate, in real time, the forces acting on a person’s knee during walking and see on a computer screen what is happening inside their knee,” says Dr Pizzolato.

“Using this information we can give patients a personalised exercise program so they can move in ways that are kinder to their joints.”

Researchers hope this technology will not only reduce pain, but also prevent and slow down the progression of osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal diseases.

Dr Pizzolato won the 2018 Fresh Science Judges’ Award (Queensland) for his work