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Critical Reviews™ in Biomedical Engineering
SJR: 0.207 SNIP: 0.376 CiteScore™: 0.79

ISSN Print: 0278-940X
ISSN Online: 1943-619X

Critical Reviews™ in Biomedical Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevBiomedEng.v31.i12.30
pages 73-139

Modeling the Human Lumbar Spine for Assessing Spinal Loads, Stability, and Risk of Injury

N. Peter Reeves
Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada
Jacek Cholewicki
Biomechanics Research Laboratory, Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, and Department of Biomedical Engineering, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA


This article provides a critical review of biomechanical modeling approaches used to estimate spinal loads, stability, and risk of injury. The complete biomechanical analysis of the spine requires a two-stage approach: (1) equilibrium analysis for estimating tissue loads, and (2) stability analysis for estimating structural tolerance of the spine. For each level of analysis, basic principles are reviewed and relevant published models and studies are referenced. Throughout the article, implications for lumbar function and dysfunction derived from the various modeling methods are presented, and their applications are discussed. At the end, future directions for research are identified. Detailed descriptions of selected modeling approaches are provided in the appendices.

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