Behavioral Assessments of Pain and Disability in Small Animal Models of Musculoskeletal Degeneration

Date(s) - 08/29/2011
11:45 am - 12:35 pm

Dr. Kyle Allen, Biomedical Engineering

Simply put, the degeneration of cartilage and fibrocartilage leads to disability and pain.  These disorders, collectively known as degenerative joint diseases, can affect any articulating joint in the musculoskeletal system.  Osteoarthritis of the knee or hip affects a patient’s mobility and activity.  Herniation or degeneration of the lumbar intervertebral disc can lead to sciatica and disability.  Temporomandibular joint disorders impair a patient’s ability to eat and talk with comfort.  These disorders are highly prevalent, with degenerative joint diseases projected to affect 25% of the US adult population or more by 2030.  Despite this prevalence, our understanding of these pathologies is incomplete, complicated by long chronic disease cycles that include complex interactions between joint mechanics, catabolic mediators, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and potentially changes in pain sensitivity.  Our laboratory aims to investigate these links through a multifaceted approach spanning mechanical engineering, behavioral science, immunology, and biology.  Dr. Allen will describe past and new projects in his laboratory including gait analysis as a marker of disability in rodent models, the development of new models of TMJ pathology, and understanding the role of cell mechanics in cartilage pathology and regeneration.