UTILIZATION OF PNEUMATIC ARTIFICIAL MUSCLES TO STUDY EFFECTS OF LOAD HISTORY ON THE INTERVERTEBRAL DISC
Hsieh, Adam H
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Degenerative disc disease is commonly linked with low back pain, a major musculoskeletal disorder contributing to an annual socioeconomic impact of over $100 billion. The intervertebral disc (IVD) plays a critical role in spinal load bearing and many of the mechanisms of its degeneration are still unknown. This study focused on eliciting gene expression changes of the Nucleus Pulposus (NP), the inner region of the IVD critical to load support using an in vivo rat model. First, pneumatic artificial muscles (PAMs) were calibrated and integrated into a small loading device as an actuation mechanism. Next, various load histories were then applied on IVDs and gene expression was determined by qRT-PCR. Results show that discs with increased intradiscal pressure led increased expression of genes common to the NP. This study contributes to the better understanding of how load history alters IVD health and validates a device for future long term studies.