The Unparalleled Flexibility and Instability of the Human Shoulder
The human shoulder is remarkably flexible and intrinsically unstable. It has to be, so we can perform activities ranging from sports to everyday tasks, such as writing and typing. But the cost is high. In Canada, shoulder impairments cost the health care system nearly $1 billion per year—and that doesn’t include costs related to lost productivity. Equally important are the loss of autonomy and reduced quality of life suffered by people with shoulder injuries.
Using techniques from mathematics, biology, physics and engineering, Dr. Clark Dickerson, Canada Research Chair in Shoulder Mechanics, is searching for ways to prevent shoulder injuries before they happen.
By combining the study of shoulder tissue tolerances with high-fidelity computerized simulations, Dickerson and his research team are developing new cross-disciplinary solutions to reduce and eliminate shoulder damage. They are doing this by looking at how consumer product manufacturing, user-centred product design, and workplace layouts can influence shoulder health. Dickerson and his team are also investigating the impact of other factors on shoulder integrity, such as compensatory movements, muscular fatigue and aging.
Dickerson’s research has the potential to improve our understanding of the fundamental causes of shoulder damage. It may also result in changes to our interfaces, workplaces and daily lives that can protect shoulder health and improve the quality of life for all Canadians.