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Fellowship supports research to improve knee replacements

July 15, 2021 | UHCL Staff

Ariful Bhuiyan leans against a railing on the UHCL campus

Barrios Technology has awarded University of Houston-Clear Lake's Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ariful Bhuiyan a fellowship that will continue his ongoing research in the field of biomechanics.

"My doctoral dissertation focused on anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries," he said. "Now, I am continuing my research on the knee joint by studying osteoarthritis in the knee, for which there is no treatment except the total knee replacement."

He said he was currently collaborating on a project in which he's doing simulation work for knee device product performance evaluations.

"As new designs are developed, I'm evaluating those devices," he said.

Bhuiyan said total knee replacements (TKRs) were very expensive, both in terms of money and in terms of time lost from school and work to recover.

"It's a costly problem, and there can be technical difficulties in the design of these products," he said.

With the $5000 in fellowship funds he received from Barrios, Bhuiyan said he is able to purchase the technical support he needs to use the software for evaluating the devices.

"In order to solve my technical issues, I need to talk to that company, and they give me the tech support, and these funds allow me to pay for those services," he said. "Additionally, the funds cover books I need, and make it possible for me to attend conferences and trainings in the use of the software."

For people needing a TKR, a newer, more efficient product is vital. "There are several commercial devices, but there are a lot of issues in those products. We need to solve them and come up with a better design," he explained. "We cannot commercialize the products, we are just addressing the problems. When we solve them, it will help others."

"The main problem with the current design is that it causes disintegration of the bone-implant interface," he continued. "Eventually, another surgery needs to be done. Our goal is to come up with a design that will last the patient's life and will not require a second surgery."

Osteoarthritis is associated with older people, but Bhuiyan said that in some cases, even much younger patients can show signs of this painful, debilitating problem.

"I'm using these funds to advance my knowledge in knee research," he said. "My doctorate is in mechanical engineering, but my topic was biomechanics. There are many applications from mechanical engineering to biomechanics — it's a mechanical device in a biological environment."

Bhuiyan added the funds would last a year, but the research won't end there. "I will continue my research forever," he said.

For more information about UHCL's Mechanical Engineering program, go online.