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Fundamental research

The research groups at Schulthess Klinik carry out biomechanical studies in close collaboration with ETH Zurich. These studies serve to develop movement models, to support surgical techniques and to foster a deeper understanding of the tissues and structures within the body.

Disorders of the musculoskeletal system are a significant challenge for our increasingly ageing society. A high quality of living, the preservation of mobility and an active lifestyle even amongst the elderly are a few of our clinic’s primary objectives. Biomechanical studies help to foster better understanding of the function of the musculoskeletal system and the causes of musculoskeletal disorders. Furthermore, new technologies help surgeons directly. In the extensive field of fundamental research, we are concerned with the three fields specified below.

Development of movement models

The development of biomechanical methods enables movement sequences and active forces to be calculated and imitated in order to gain detailed insights into patterns of movement. Quantitative data regarding the movements of implanted prosthetic proximal interphalangeal joints is obtained using a three-dimensional camera system, for example, and the results help surgeons decide on the prosthetic joint to be used (Figure 1).

Messung Gelenksprothese
Figure 1: measuring device, including active forces, for the quantitative assessment of the lateral deflection of the finger using a three-dimensional camera system

Device and technology design

In order to make daily clinical practice easier, we are developing new devices and technologies to support surgeons. In the field of hand surgery, for example, a special thumb stability measuring device has been created; this device can be used during the operation and provides the surgeon with important information on the stability of the thumb and thereby the progression of the operation.

Examination of tissues and structures

Fatty deposits in muscles can slow down or prevent the recovery of muscle function following successful surgical intervention. The hip muscles in patients with coxarthrosis are examined using intraoperative muscle biopsies (Figure 2), magnetic resonance and neuro-muscular measurements. These systems enable us to obtain information on the causes of fatty deposits on hip muscles and possible functional implications. The results help doctors and therapists to develop new prevention and treatment measures.

Histologische Analyse einer Hüftmuskel-Biopsie
Figure 2: histological analysis of a hip muscle biopsy. Source: Laboratory of Exercise and Health, ETH Zurich
Schulthess Klinik

Schulthess Klinik
Lengghalde 2
8008 Zürich

Teaching, Research and Development