Engineering a Better Way to Prevent Injury; Welsh Crucible Brings Together 30 of Wales' Most Promising Researchers to Encourage the Development of Novel and Sustainable Multi-Disciplinary Ideas and Collaborations. Here, in the First of a Series of Articles, Dr Peter Theobald Outlines His Research on Minimising the Risk of Injury and Trauma, through the Application of Engineering Principles to the Human Body
MEDICAL engineering is an unfamiliar term to most; in a nut-shell, it describes engineering concepts applied to the human body.
Here at Cardiff University, we specialise in training the next generation of "bio-engineers" while pushing forward research boundaries to the benefit of all.
In the safety, trauma and rehabilitation bio-mechanics laboratories, our bio-engineers seek to reduce the risk of injury and encourage the rate of rehabilitation.
The head is currently our main focus, as we seek to understand the consequence of, and minimise the risk following, a sudden impact. We are considering head injuries in infants and young children, integrating engineering principles with clinical data to develop an additional resource which, ultimately, will assist clinicians in ascertaining whether a head injury may have been caused accidentally, or not.
Additionally, we are seeking to minimise head and facial injuries in activities such as cycling and climbing, designing improved safety head wear by evaluating the most effective geometry and assessing the performance of new material combinations.
We are also working to minimise the risk of head injury during field-based sports, particularly as a consequence of impact with the surface, by developing guidelines for acceptable pitch conditions. It is ironic that sport is frequently cancelled during winter due to a frozen pitch, but rarely in the spring when (sometimes) faced with an equally dangerous, parched surface.
The increasing popularity of artificial surfaces brings new challenges in defining how surfaces should be maintained to minimise the risk of injury, be this to the head or elsewhere.
We also consider rugby to determine whether we can reduce the relatively high incidence of cumulative spinal degeneration, a condition that can be a precursor to injury. …