This project (DFG FOR 5177) is part of a larger research collaboration with the Julius Wolff Institute (JWI) for Biomechanics and Musculoskeletal Regeneration of the Charité Berlin and is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft / German Research Foundation (DFG).

For patient-specific biomechanical analysis of musculoskeletal structures in motion, suitable measurement methods are required. Although tomographic imaging is the method of choice to three-dimensionally (3D) assess musculoskeletal morphology in a static prone or supine position, a functional 3D analysis in dynamic or load-bearing situations is currently either technically very demanding or not possible at all. Instead, optical measurements using motion capture systems, wearables that measure acceleration, bending, twisting, or stretching, radiographic projections (fluoroscopy), or ultrasound are the methods of choice in biomechanical research. To assess individual anatomy with respect to functional biomechanics, 3D models of the respective anatomy in combination with computational analysis methods are required. 

The aim of this project is to establish an articulated, statistical 3D shape and bone density model of the human spine from a large set of subjects and to utilize this statistical 3D model in view of an individualization to a specific subject via sparse functional measurements. Furthermore, we are interested in drawing statistically sound conclusions from population data that provide information on the relationships between morphology, movement and mechanics in the context of both clinical diagnostics as well as treatment planning and evaluation.

The overall aims of our research are to better understand the inter- and intra-individual variations in spinal morphology and movement as well as to identify interrelationships between the 3Ms (Morphology, Motion and Mechanics) of the spine in view of potential morphological biomarkers that may become associated with spinal dysfunction and pain.

The statistical 3D spine model shall serve as a basis for research and education in biomechanics as well as for individual diagnosis and treatment planning in orthopedics. It integrates information from other sub-projects within the research colloaboration between the JWI and the ZIB with the goal of identifying clusters that differ significantly in form and function. The correlation analysis based on morphological and structural parameters may lead to novel biomarkers for spinal disease classification or to early indicators for spinal developments that are related to back pain.