A constitutive model for the mechanical characterization of the plantar fascia.
ABSTRACT A constitutive model is proposed to describe the mechanical behavior of the plantar fascia. The mechanical characterization of the plantar fascia regards the role in the foot biomechanics and it is involved in many alterations of its functional behavior, both of mechanical and nonmechanical origin. The structural conformation of the plantar fascia in its middle part is characterized by the presence of collagen fibers reinforcing the tissue along a preferential orientation, which is that supporting the major loading. According to this anatomical evidence, the tissue is described by developing an isotropic fiber-reinforced constitutive model and since the elastic response of the fascia is here considered, the constitutive model is based on the theory of hyperelasticity. The model is consistent with a kinematical description of large strains mechanical behavior, which is typical of soft tissues. A fitting procedure of the constitutive model is implemented making use of experimental curves taken from the literature and referring to specimens of human plantar fascia. A satisfactory fitting of the tensile behavior of the plantar fascia has been performed, showing that the model correctly interprets the mechanical behavior of the tissue in the light of comparison to experimental data at disposal. A critical analysis of the model with respect to the problem of the identification of the constitutive parameters is proposed as the basis for planning a future experimental investigation of mechanical behavior of the plantar fascia.
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ABSTRACT: To create computerized three-dimensional models of the crural fascia and of the superficial layer of the thoracolumbar fascia. Serial sections of these two fasciae, stained with Azan-Mallory, van Gieson and anti-S100 antibody stains, were recorded. The resulting images were merged (Image Zone 5.0 software) and aligned (MatLab Image Processing Toolkit). Color thresholding was applied to identify the structures of interest. 3D models were obtained with Tcl/Tk scripts and Paraview 3.2.1 software. From these models, the morphometric features of these fasciae were evaluated with ImageJ. In the crural fascia, collagen fibers represent less than 20% of the total volume, arranged in three distinct sub-layers (mean thickness, 115 μm), separated by a layer of loose connective tissue (mean thickness, 43 μm). Inside a single sub-layer, all the fibers are parallel, whereas the angle between the fibers of adjacent layers is about 78°. Elastic fibers are less than 1%. Nervous fibers are mostly concentrated in the middle layer. The superficial layer of the thoracolumbar fascia is also formed of three thinner sub-layers, but only the superficial one is similar to the crural fascia sub-layers, the intermediate one is similar to a flat tendon, and the deep one is formed of loose connective tissue. Only the superficial sub-layer has rich innervation and a few elastic fibers. Computerized three-dimensional models provide a detailed representation of the fascial structure, for better understanding of the interactions among the different components. This is a fundamental step in understanding the mechanical behavior of the fasciae and their role in pathology.Anatomia Clinica 01/2011; 33(10):855-62. · 0.93 Impact Factor