Flinders joins forces with Italy for knee research

Engineers and scientists from Flinders University are teaming up with the University of Bologna in Italy to research and design new knee implants.

The Flinders-based Medical Device Research Institute (MDRI) has just received a $50,000 State Government grant to study the movement and forces within the joint following a knee replacement.

Led by MDRI director Professor Karen Reynolds (pictured), Flinders researchers will work with the University of Bologna to test the stability and force of novel knee prostheses developed by an orthopaedic manufacturing company in Bologna.

According to the National Joint Replacement Registry, the rate of knee replacements in Australia is increasing rapidly, with 48,020 procedures performed in 2012 – almost double the number (25,539) of procedures performed in 2002.

Professor Karen Reynolds said the University’s Hexapod robot together with data from computational simulations would be used to verify the designs developed in Bologna under the guidance of Flinders biomechanics experts Dr Egon Perilli, Dr John Costi and Professor Mark Taylor.

“Our team will be investigating the functional behaviour of knee implants in order to validate the design and provide vital information before moving to clinical trials,” Professor Reynolds said.

Professor Reynolds said the project would help develop collaborative research links between the two institutions, resulting in future opportunities for joint PhDs, staff and student study exchanges and industry training.

The overarching aim of the venture, Professor Reynolds said, was to facilitate and foster relationships between South Australia and Italy’s Emilia Romagna region.

“The University of Bologna is the oldest university in the western world and a leader in biomechanics so we’re very pleased to be working with them,” she said.

“This project will not only help create collaborative research and higher education links between the two universities but beyond that it will facilitate key international relationships and potential business opportunities.”

Coupled with the MDRI’s future move to the Tonsley redevelopment, Professor Reynolds said the collaboration could kick-start a new prosthesis product design and manufacturing industry in South Australia.

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