Date of Award

May 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Member

Melinda Harman

Committee Member

Jeremy Mercuri

Committee Member

Hai Yao


The spine is one of the most complex structures in the musculoskeletal system. Surgical procedures and implants used to treat spinal disorders include modification or removal of the diseased intervertebral disk, vertebral fusion using various combinations of hardware devices, and total disc replacement using mobile implant devices. The safety and efficacy of these implants need to be evaluated prior to clinical use. Three-dimensional biomechanical testing of the spine is necessary to evaluate spine function along with the effects of disorders, surgical procedures and implants. The general flexibility tests using pure moments can be performed using commercially available testing frames, but they are costly and not available in many research labs. The setup developed in this study can be accommodated by any lab with a bi-axial testing machine. The test rig designed in this study allows for the unconstrained motion of the spine under pure moment loading conditions. Loading can be applied continuously or in a stepwise fashion through positive and negative moments. The motion data was captured using Polaris Vicra, NDI Digital. This data was then analyzed using a custom code written in MATLAB, (Mathworks, Natick, MA). A mechanical analog lumbar spine model was used for kinematic experiments and the study showed promising results for the test rig to be used as an unconstrained spine test rig.



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