Multi-body dynamics is a powerful engineering tool which is becoming increasingly popular for the simulation and analysis of skull biomechanics. This paper presents the first application of multi-body dynamics to analyse the biomechanics of the rabbit skull. A model has been constructed through the combination of manual dissection and three-dimensional imaging techniques (magnetic resonance imaging and micro-computed tomography). Individual muscles are represented with multiple layers, thus more accurately modelling muscle fibres with complex lines of action. Model validity was sought through comparing experimentally measured maximum incisor bite forces with those predicted by the model. Simulations of molar biting highlighted the ability of the masticatory system to alter recruitment of two muscle groups, in order to generate shearing or crushing movements. Molar shearing is capable of processing a food bolus in all three orthogonal directions, whereas molar crushing and incisor biting are predominately directed vertically. Simulations also show that the masticatory system is adapted to process foods through several cycles with low muscle activations, presumably in order to prevent rapidly fatiguing fast fibres during repeated chewing cycles. Our study demonstrates the usefulness of a validated multi-body dynamics model for investigating feeding biomechanics in the rabbit, and shows the potential for complementing and eventually reducing in vivo experiments.
We thank Sue Taft (University of Hull) for the µCT-scanning of the rabbit specimen used in this study. We also thank Raphaël Cornette, Jacques Bonnin, Laurent Dufresne, and l'Amicale des Chasseurs Trappistes (ACT) for providing permission and helping us capture the rabbits used for the in vivo bite force measurements at la Réserve Naturelle Nationale de St Quentin en Yvelines, France.
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- School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition,
- School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition, MRC/Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work
- The Suttie Centre - Anatomy
- School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition, Aberdeen Centre for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Health (ACAMH)