When one imagines the wonders of the natural world, the spider is not the first organism that comes to mind. However, possibly the most hated beings in all creation produce one of nature’s marvels: spider silk.
Spider silk also has an elasticity similar to that of human tendons while exhibiting a near perfect resistance to fatigue. Hennecke et al. show that spider silk has a similar stress-strain curve to that of a human tendon, and both materials have a memory which allows them to recover their form after loading. Tendons are constantly being loaded and unloaded throughout their life. Finding adequate materials for artificial tendons is particularly difficult, because most materials begin to lose their properties in cyclic loading, leading to a defined and small life time for the number of cycles tendons are forced through. But spider silk does not appear to lose its strength or elasticity even after high numbers of cycles.
In addition to these physical properties, spider silk also has been found to be both antiseptic as well as biocompatible. Spider silk has been used for medicine since ancient times due to its antiseptic properties, and for this reason, as well as its strength and toughness, spider silk is an excellent component in salves and bandages. Artificial tendons are prone to infection, and so spider silk’s antiseptic property is another reason why it is an ideal material for this application. Because spider silk is also biocompatible, as well as tough, it is a viable material for organ repair.
The allure of athletic success is hard to ignore in today’s society. The opportunities, notoriety, and wealth that come along with prowess in a particular sport are certainly enticing and have contributed to a growing trend towards youth sports specialization, where athletes focus on one sport from a very young age. And while the work ethic of these young athletes is admirable, their reasoning and that of their parents is a bit flawed.
Ankle injuries – either sprains or fractures – are one of the most common sports traumas plaguing the US today. Sprains are overextensions or tears in ligaments. Fractures, on the other hand, are broken bones.
Have you ever been out running on a gorgeous fall day, only to have the run cut short by a painful misstep on a tree root covered by leaves? I have, and let me tell you – it’s awful! And even if you aren’t a runner, according to the Sports Medicine Research Manual, ankle sprains are a common, if not the most common, injury for sports involving lower body movements. Now, the solution to preventing this painful and annoying injury could be as simple as avoiding tree roots and uneven ground, but the real problem behind ankle sprains deals with the anatomy of the ankle.
How does someone go from being the youngest NBA MVP one year to barely making headlines the next? Ask Derrick Rose. After being named the youngest MVP in the NBA, Derrick Rose tears his ACL the next year and then tears his right meniscus twice in the span of three years. Knee injuries have not been kind to Derick Rose, but how does one tear their meniscus and how does it get repaired?
In July of 1974, Tommy John, pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, felt a twinge in his throwing arm, and could no longer pitch. Dr. Frank Jobe tried a new kind of surgery on John’s elbow, and after missing only one season, Tommy John returned to the mound in 1976 and continued pitching until 1989.
It takes a lot to make a professional athlete collapse to the ground during a game. After throwing a pitch on September 14, 2019, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Tim Mayza knelt on the side of the mound while clutching his arm, expecting the worst. The next day, MRI revealed that what he had feared: Mayza had torn his Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL).
Whenever there is a lower extremity injury in sports, the first thing people always ask is: “Was it the ACL?” I, like everyone else, assumed everyone had an ACL because I did not believe that you could walk without one, let alone play sports. To my surprise, I discovered that not everyone has an ACL. Some people are born without one, while others lose their ACL’s.