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Transient Elastohydrodynamic Lubrication Models For The Human Ankle Joint

J B Medley, D Dowson, V Wright

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An equivalent bearing was proposed to represent the normal human ankle joint. The geometry was based on measurements of dissected ankle joints and tissue properties were obtained from the work of previous investigators. Theoretical models were developed to estimate the cyclic variation in lubricant film thickness and coefficient of friction during repetitive activities such as walking. Solutions were obtained for various combinations of input parameters. For the conditions representing the walking cycle, film thicknesses of about 0.7 μm were calculated. Although this value was smaller than most previous measurements of the rms roughness of cartilage, it was not much smaller and suggested that transient elastohydrodynamic lubrication played a role in synovial joint lubrication. The possibility of full fluid film lubrication was supported only when a very high input viscosity was employed, based on values estimated from the previous experimental studies of the boosted lubrication mechanism. Also, an attempt was made to link the current findings to a published experimental study of whole joint lubrication.