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Use of an Animal Model to Study Post-traumatic Elbow Contracture

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November 19, 2019 @ 3:30 pm - 4:20 pm

Spencer Lake, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science at Washington University in St. Louis will present on the Use of an Animal Model to Study Post-traumatic Elbow Contracture


Post-traumatic joint contracture (PTJC) is a debilitating condition wherein increased stiffness following injury leads to motion loss and disability. The elbow joint is particularly susceptible to PTJC and suffers from a lack of adequate treatment options. The progression of elbow contracture is unpredictable and poorly understood, making it difficult to devise prevention strategies. Our lab developed an animal model to study PTJC of the elbow using injury and immobilization to induce contracture in rats. Our animals demonstrate significantly impaired joint motion and biological disruptions similar to the human condition. Importantly, these changes persist following remobilization of the joint, demonstrating the induction of long-term joint dysfunction following instigation of clinically relevant soft tissue injuries. Our work represents the first animal model capable of investigating injury specific to the elbow, a complex yet highly understudied joint.

We have identified which peri-articular tissues contribute to PTJC and elucidated temporal patterns of pathogenesis. We have also utilized several longitudinal evaluation techniques to quantify the functional impact of PTJC over time. Ongoing work is investigating the ability of physical therapy or biological treatments (i.e., drug or cell based) to reduce the fibrotic tissue response and prevent motion loss following injury. Long-term, this work will improve fundamental understanding of joint health and help guide translatable treatment strategies for PTJC in the elbow and other joints.

Spencer Lake is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science at Washington University in St. Louis. He received degrees in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Utah and the University of Pennsylvania, followed by postdoctoral training at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on multiscale structure-function relationships of musculoskeletal soft tissues and joints.

Ongoing projects seek to enhance fundamental understanding in order to improve strategies to prevent and treat tissue degeneration and injury. His work has developed new model systems to study challenging clinical conditions like elbow injury and joint contracture, designed experimental methods to elucidate multiscale tendon mechanics, and advanced imaging techniques to quantify real-time microstructural organization of connective tissues under load. Dr. Lake’s research has resulted in over 60 journal articles and more than 130 conference abstracts, and has been funded by the NIH, NSF, and several research foundations. He is the recipient of the 2016 Donald G. Fink Award from IEEE, the 2017 Early Career Award from the Journal of Orthopaedic Research, and the 2018 Y.C. Fung Early Career Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.


November 19, 2019
3:30 pm - 4:20 pm


2229 Seamans Center
103 South Capitol Street
Iowa City, IA 52242 United States
Posted on November 13th, 2019

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