Mathematical modelling of human spine and design

Many individuals suffer from back trouble and a large number of sufferers provide a hidden cost to industry, from the increasingly high level of absenteeism. Back pain and injury may result from inadequately designed artefacts and workplaces. In order to achieve better designs which prevent such injuries one has to have a greater understanding of the source of the problems. The mechanics of human spine can be studied by conducting experiments directly on humans in a laboratory. Alternatively mathematical models which represent subtleties and geometric complexities may be studied. Such models of human spine could look at how the spine behaves in specific situations. This paper is about generating a general purpose spine model that is suited a wide range of design applications. The geometric model and the mathematical modelling aspects will be explained. The result of the research infeasibility of range of models representing the spine will also be discussed. The paper will conclude with suggestions on the potential use of human spine models in design.