Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Biomedical Engineering

Major Professor

Jeffrey Reinbolt

Committee Members

Songning Zhang, JAM Boulet, Eric Wade


Knee OA is a deteriorating joint disease affecting 27 million people in the US and current exercise prescriptions may be improved with new knowledge of their effects on muscle forces and joint contact loads. Cycling rather than other exercise modalities is generally considered an alternative for people with knee OA. If these research objectives were achieved, clinicians would have additional tools related to joint contact loads for treating people with OA with an cycling exercise while controlling progression of OA. The long-term goal of this research is to provide a scientific basis for planning, evaluation and improvement of subject-specific rehabilitation for subjects with knee osteoarthritis (OA).

The principles governing relationships between muscle forces, joint contact loads and movements in people with knee OA, have not been discovered. Determining how to adjust movements to optimize joint contact loads is difficult because experiments do not account for these loads. In combination with experimental approaches, muscle-actuated inverse dynamic simulations provide a scientific framework to estimate important variables and identify cause-and- effect relationships. These activities challenge existing paradigms for exercise prescriptions by including movements specifically designed for decreasing knee joint contact loads.

The research objective is to investigate muscle forces and joint contact loads that are experienced by the knee during cycling. The overall hypothesis is a combination of biomechanical cycling modifications that contribute to altered muscle forces and a reduction in knee joint contact loads in subjects with and without knee OA during cycling; this may be mitigated with a novel pedal design. The overall purpose of this research was to discover relationships between muscle forces, joint contact loads, cycling and OA-friendly cycling modifications for improving exercise prescriptions. The following objectives were addressed: 1) determine the effects of lateral pedal wedges and toe-in on joint biomechanics during cycling and 2) examine the potential of optimization to design subject-specific cycling modifications for decreasing knee joint contact loads.

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