A brand new biomechanics laboratory equipped with latest technology is coming on stream at Karl Landsteiner Private University of Health Sciences (KL Krems). The laboratory is equipped with a wide array of most modern devices and defines new standards for measurements and analyses of biological tissues. The experimental equipment was optimized for the needs of the Division of Biomechanics at KL Krems. This research group has already achieved international recognition through their research in the field of osteoporosis and orthopedic biomechanics. The new laboratory will ensure that research in this field remains globally competitive in the coming years and will enhance the attractiveness of Krems as research location in biomedical engineering.
"Bone jobs" are very popular at Karl Landsteiner Private University Krems (KL Krems) - at least for scientists in the field of biomechanics. The opening of the new BMLAB (Biomechanics Laboratory) at KL Krems, offers excellent research conditions in the field of bone biomechanics. For the first time, X-ray microcomputer tomography, 3D printing and complex computer simulations are now available together with advanced mechanical testing equipment for biological tissues based on optical measurements.
Professor Dieter Pahr, professor of Musculoskeletal Biomechanics at KL Krems and head of the Division Biomechanics, comments on his research and the new possibilities: "Osteoporosis-related fractures can only be poorly predicted on the basis of bone density alone. Based on a better understanding of the bone structure and the related bone strength, we aim to develop new predictive patient-specific models. Our well-equipped laboratory – the BMLAB – helps in this direction and is an important part of our research group. This new facility creates excellent conditions for doing high-quality research in our field”.
In fact, bone density "only" measures bone mass. This is an important parameter that affects a bones’ load-bearing capacity, but it is not the only one. "Another crucial factor is how mass is distributed within a bone. Bone strength is also strongly influenced by the shape, size, and micro-structure as well as the quality of the bone itself", says Professor Pahr. Together with his research team at KL Krems, he is currently investigating these influencing factors on the mechanical behaviour of bone.
The equipment at the BMLAB is optimally adapted to his work and will make an important contribution to strengthening the international reputation of his research group. One of the most notable devices will soon be in operation: An X-ray micro-computer tomograph, a device that allows 3D X-ray imaging of ultrafine internal tissue structures. It employs the same method used in clinical CT scans, but with a much greater resolution. In addition to this imaging techniques, the BMLAB is also ideally positioned in the fields of image processing and 3D printing.
Research for clinical applications
Besides the experimental work in the BMLAB, the Division Biomechanics can also perform computer simulations based on a powerful IT infrastructure. This opportunity is particularly important for the research of Professor Pahr. He is also working on computer models to predict the load-bearing capacity of individualized human bones. Although research work at KL Krems is of a fundamental nature, it very clearly has practical relevance, as Professor Pahr explains for his own field: "Our goal is to understand the relationship between the fracture behaviour of an individual bone and its three-dimensional micro-structure so well that medical image data from a routine CT scan can serve as the basis for computer-based predictions of the fracture load. This would be a tremendous step forward in clinical practice, such as the diagnosis and monitoring of osteoporotic patients." Thus, his research group exemplifies the scope of research at KL Krems, which focuses on niche fields within bridging various disciplines relevant to healthcare policy with real added value for those who are affected.
About Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences
Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences (KL) is a pioneer for innovation in medical and health sciences education and research, and a catalyst for groundbreaking work which will benefit society at large. Research at KL focuses on niche fields in bridge disciplines such as biomedical engineering, psychodynamics and psychology, as well as topics including water quality and related health issues. Study programmes include health sciences, human medicine, and psychotherapy and counselling and have full European recognition. A network of university hospitals in St Poelten, Krems, and Tulln provides students with quality-assured, research-led education; it enables them to do top-class clinical research that is recognised worldwide. Karl Landsteiner University received accreditation by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria (AQ Austria) in 2013.