Your Elbow and Clarkson
Andrew Bluestein and the Tommy John Challenge
Andrew Bluestein ’13 is majoring in mechanical engineering and physics, with a heavy dose of technology. He’s helping Clarkson researchers figure out exactly how the human elbow ligament moves. To do this, researchers in the biomechanics lab are using motion-capture technology similar to that used to make the computer-generated characters in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Avatar.
Andrew’s job is to make sure the researchers really measure the ligament’s movement—and only the ligament’s movement. “If I were to put one marker on a flat table, set up all the cameras, and then capture that marker’s position for 15 seconds, you’d expect that there’d be no movement, right?” he says. “Well, that’s not necessarily the case. Actually, what you get is tiny fluctuations that could be caused by a ton of different things.” Those “things” could be anything from air circulation to floor vibrations.
Andrew’s excruciatingly precise measurements have produced thousands of data points that he’s analyzing via computer. The end result, he and other researchers hope, will be enough information to eventually create an artificial elbow ligament. That will help patients like former baseball player Tommy John, who was the first to undergo surgery replacing this ligament in his elbow with tissue taken from another part of his body.
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Stories of Support