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Introducing Uncertainty Analysis in Elbow Biomechanics: A Work in Progress at Two Educational Levels

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Biomedical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1031.1 - 26.1031.4



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Paper Authors


Jessica Ann He University of Rochester

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Jessica He is a graduate of Cesar Chavez High School in Laveen, AZ. Upon receiving the Gates Millennium Scholarship, she is now a junior at the University of Rochester, pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Biomechanics and a minor in Clinical Psychology. As a Xerox Fellow, she developed a teaching module on uncertainty analysis in elbow biomechanics that can be implemented at two different educational levels. With this research, she aspires to have this teaching module implemented in the BME curriculum at the University of Rochester and disseminated broadly for other instructors interested in introducing uncertainty analysis using an elbow biomechanics model.

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Amy L Lerner University of Rochester

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Dr. Lerner is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and the Academic Director of the Center for Medical Technology and Innovation. Her research focuses on computational orthopaedic biomechanics and the development of efficient methods for the prediction of risks for joint disorders such as knee osteoarthritis.

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Introducing Uncertainty Analysis in Elbow Biomechanics: A Work in Progress at Two Educational Levels The educational goal of our research is to facilitate active learning during the introduction ofproblem-solving while incorporating uncertainty and variability in biomechanical analysis. In thisresearch, we have defined uncertainty as the inaccuracy in a model that stems from natural variability ininput parameters and imprecision in measurement techniques. At the high school level, learningobjectives include basic concepts of uncertainty in the context of biomechanics, including momentcalculations, weight estimations, and use of significant figures. At the college level, the learningobjectives include application of Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) to conduct sensitivity analyses andquantify the statistical significance in the observed effects. Evaluation of our high school teaching model was conducted on two days with 28 high schoolstudents from the Upward Bound program at our university. The 60 minute module focused oncalculating the required force of the biceps muscle to hold up an apple at 90 degrees. Instruction beganwith a 10-15 minute lecture that introduced uncertainty, elbow biomechanics, anatomy, momentcalculations, and use of significant figures. The active learning component involved three differentinteractive workstations. Station 1 calcuated the biceps force with a PASCO mechanical arm system.Station 2 guided students to calculated the biceps force in models of their own arms and measurements ofapples. Station 3 calculated the biceps force in an average, small, and large sized person. Finally, themodule concluded with a discussion of the measurements and resulting calculations as well as a video ofa recently released prosthetic arm. Uncertainty was introduced in the measurement techniques and tools,as well as in the natural variability found in apples and humans. Effectiveness of the high school teachingmodule was evaluated based on results from an identical pre- and post- test that assessed the students’knowledge on moments, significant figures, relative weight dimensions, uncertainty, and interest inBiomedical Engineering. Results were evaluated based on a paired t-test (p<0.05 from both days. This demonstratesthe module is flexible and highly effective at introducing uncertainty analysis in elbow biomechanics. Theresults also revealed greater interest in Biomedical Engineering. Our college level module will be evaluated with juniors in a BME course: BiomedicalComputation & Statistics in Spring 2015. The module will follow a similar format, but will emphasize theapplication of ANOVA statistics to a sensitivity analysis in elbow biomechanics modeling. The modulewill be incorporated into a lab exercise that introduces human variability, model customization,uncertainity, and sensitivity analysis on total model variance. Implementation of the college teachingmodule is still a work in progress, however the lab exercise has been scheduled and materials developed.This sensitivity-based ANOVA analysis is central to the Design of Experiments method used by manymedical device industries and is also emerging rapidly in the biomechanics research field. Both teachingmodules have been designed for dissemination to the engineering education community. Figure 1. Results from Day 1 and Day 2 of the teaching module with a comparison between the identical pre- and post-test  

He, J. A., & Lerner, A. L. (2015, June), Introducing Uncertainty Analysis in Elbow Biomechanics: A Work in Progress at Two Educational Levels Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24368

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