Can Optimizing the Mechanical Environment Deliver a Clinically Significant Reduction in Fracture Healing Time?

Biomedicines. 2021 Jun 18;9(6):691. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines9060691.


The impact of the local mechanical environment in the fracture gap on the bone healing process has been extensively investigated. Whilst it is widely accepted that mechanical stimulation is integral to callus formation and secondary bone healing, treatment strategies that aim to harness that potential are rare. In fact, the current clinical practice with an initially partial or non-weight-bearing approach appears to contradict the findings from animal experiments that early mechanical stimulation is critical. Therefore, we posed the question as to whether optimizing the mechanical environment over the course of healing can deliver a clinically significant reduction in fracture healing time. In reviewing the evidence from pre-clinical studies that investigate the influence of mechanics on bone healing, we formulate a hypothesis for the stimulation protocol which has the potential to shorten healing time. The protocol involves confining stimulation predominantly to the proliferative phase of healing and including adequate rest periods between applications of stimulation.

Keywords: bone repair; fracture healing; implants; mechanobiology; rehabilitation.

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  • Review

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