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Don Anderson, PhD
Don Anderson is Professor and Vice-Chair of Research in the Department of Orthopedics & Rehabilitation at the University of Iowa, where he directs the Orthopaedic Biomechanics Laboratory. Dr. Anderson holds a BSE in Biomedical Engineering, as well as an MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering, all from the University of Iowa. He has nearly 30 years of post-doctoral experience with image analysis, computer modeling, and computational stress analysis in musculoskeletal applications. Dr. Anderson's primary research focus is articular joint biomechanics, and his most recent work involves the scaling up of methods for patient-specific articular joint modeling in the ankle.

Enabling Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis   Risk Prediction from Pathomechanics

The long-term goal of our research is to forestall post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA), the disabling condition that often develops after joint injuries like an intra-articular fracture (IAF) of the tibial plafond. PTOA leads to permanent disability in nearly 30% of individuals having sustained an IAF, with those of the foot and ankle being the most disabling. The impairment associated with ankle OA is comparable to that caused by end-stage kidney disease or congestive heart failure. The vast majority of ankle OA is post-traumatic, with tibial plafond IAFs often leading to disabling PTOA within two to five years. As a result, patients with ankle injuries provide an ideal population in which to study this degenerative pathway so that we can optimize treatment. We have developed patient-specific precision medicine approaches to predict PTOA risk in the ankle using CT-based measures of pathomechanical factors associated with IAFs (fracture severity and elevated contact stress post-treatment) of the tibial plafond. A primary objective of the group’s present work is to enable the use of these innovative methods for assessing IAFs to better inform patient care and to guide future clinical trials of new therapies directed at mitigating or arresting the environment that triggers progressive joint degeneration.

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