Anatomy of a Joint Sound – Using Joint Acoustic Emissions to Diagnose and Grade Musculoskeletal Disease and Injury

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Whittingslow, Daniel C.
Inan, Omer T.
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There exists a need for a quantitative, objective measure of joint health status. In this work, a technique for recording the acoustic emissions (AEs) generated during joint flexion and extension was proposed. Analytical frameworks (e.g. the b-value, bootstrap aggregated decision trees, and logistic regression) were developed to interpret the recorded AEs and calculate an easily interpretable joint health score. Data were collected first from a well-controlled human cadaver knee injury model to better understand the origin and nature of these sounds. These tests revealed that AEs could be used to differentiate between injured and healthy joints, and that most of the joint sounds occur shortly following a minimization of the joint space during movement. These findings encouraged the translation of this sensing technology into the clinic. Joint AEs were collected from the knees and temporomandibular joints of a large group of children. Differences in the AEs between healthy children and those with juvenile idiopathic arthritis were quantified. In the children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, the joint AEs were recorded a second time after 2-3 months of successful treatment of the condition. It was found that joint acoustic emissions could be used to quantitatively diagnose and longitudinally track the joint health status in juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Findings related to future implementation of this technology in the clinic are discussed.
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