Statistical descriptions of the shapes of joints have the potential to provide more information than simple geometrical measures such as lengths and angles. We have used these to quantify the shapes of hip, knee and ankle joints, the foot and the lumbar spine.

We have shown that joint shape is useful for identifying early osteoarthritis and monitoring it as it gets worse. This may enable us to pick up early those individuals who may benefit most from new methods of repairing the cartilage. We have also shown that hip shape from DXA images can predict risk of hip fracture in elderly individuals. This adds more information to the bone mineral density (BMD) measure that DXA already gives.

We have also shown that we each have a unique shape to our lower spines that partly governs how we move and lift objects. This may have consequences for the way a load is lifted and guidance for the avoidance of back injury. We are currently exploring these in more detail.


Biomechanics is a very broad field applying the principles of mechanics and engineering to biological systems. We have focused on tissues and joints in humans and developed a number of novel approaches at different levels from the cellular to the whole body. This includes how cells respond to mechanical loads, and how osteoarthritis affects this, through to how joints such as the hip or the curved, flexible spine carry those loads.