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J Biomech. 1998 Feb;31(2):107-14.

A model for loading-dependent growth, development, and adaptation of tendons and ligaments.

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Rehabilitation Research & Development Center, Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA.


The geometric and material properties of tendons and ligaments change during growth and development. While some of the changes occur in the absence of mechanical loading, normal development requires the mechanical stimulus provided by normal physical activity. We have developed an analytical framework for quantitatively describing changes in uniaxial tendon and ligament properties throughout ontogeny. In our approach, cross-sectional area, modulus, and strength undergo baseline levels of development due to inherent time-dependent biological influences. The properties also change in response to mechanobiological influences by adapting to maintain a constant daily strain stimulus under changing load conditions. We have implemented a computer algorithm based on these concepts and obtained results consistent with experimental observations of normal tendon and ligament growth and development reported by other investigators. Additional results suggest that these concepts can also explain tendon and ligament adaptation to increased or decreased loading experienced during development.

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