Written by Kristin Della Volpe
Research emerging from the Spine Biomechanics Laboratory at Texas Back Institute (TBI) may better elucidate the biomechanical and neuromuscular risk factors associated with spinal conditions and help define the most appropriate and effective treatment options.
Using human motion capture, dynamic electromyography sensors, and force plates technology, the lab is designed to quantify patients’ functioning before and after spinal surgery in terms of gait, balance, posture, muscle coordination, stair climbing, and sit-to-stand motion analyses. The data also is used to define muscle activation parameters: onset (when the muscle is activating), magnitude (how much the muscles are working), and volume (energy expenditure). Together, this information is used to quantify short-term (3-months) and long-term (1-year) functional improvement postsurgery in patients who participate in research studies at TBI.
Lab Provides Quantitative Outcomes Data
The lab “offers objective, quantitative, and reliable data for spine surgeons and physical therapists to use when assessing the functional outcomes of surgery,” explained Ram Haddas, PhD, MSc, MEng, Director of Research at the TBI Research Foundation in Plano, TX.
The lab was created to overcome the potential limitations of traditional measures of spine surgery outcomes, namely imaging findings and patient questionnaires (eg, Oswestry Disability Index, SF-36). Imaging findings are reliable but conducted in static positions and findings can change with movement, Dr. Haddas noted. In addition, patient questionnaires are subjective with studies showing that patients do not always understand the survey questions or how to estimate pain level, Dr. Haddas said.
“We now have robust irrefutable data manifesting patients’ ability to walk and stand better” after treatment, said Ralph Rashbaum, MD, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon at TBI. “This is something that, from a standpoint of ongoing research, becomes a necessity in musculoskeletal medicine.”