Structural Elements of the Biomechanical System of Soft Tissue

Cureus. 2020 Apr 30;12(4):e7895. doi: 10.7759/cureus.7895.


In living organisms, forces are constantly generated and transmitted throughout tissue. Such forces are generated through interaction with the environment and as a result of the body's endogenous movement. If these internally or externally originating forces exceed the ability of tissues to cope with the applied forces, (i.e. "tissue thresholds"), they will cause force-related tissue harm. However, biotensegrity systems act to prevent these forces from causing structural damage to cells and tissues. The mechanism and structure of soft tissues that enable them to maintain their integrity and prevent damage under constantly changing forces is still not fully understood. The current anatomical and physical knowledge is insufficient to assess and predict how, why, where, and when to expect force-related tissue harm. When including the concept of tensegrity and the related principles of the hierarchical organisation of the elements of the subcellular tensional homeostatic structure into current biomechanical concepts, it increases our understanding of the events in force handling in relation to the onset of force-related tissue harm: Reducing incident forces in tissue to a level that is not harmful to the involved structures is achieved by dissipation, transduction and transferring the force in multiple dimensions. To enable this, the biomechanical systems must function in a continuous and consistent way from the cellular level to the entire body to prevent local peak forces from causing harm. In this article, we explore the biomechanical system with a focus on biotensegrity concepts across several organisational levels, describing in detail how it may function and reflecting on how this might be applied to patient management.

Keywords: adaption; biomechanical systems; biotensegrity; extracellular matrix; force; prestress; tissue; tissue damage; tissue viability; wounds.

Publication types

  • Review