North Carolina A&T State University

NSF Engineering Research Center + Bioengineering Joint Seminar Series

Investigation of Biomechanical Risk Factors of
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome Through

Finite Element Analysis

Robert A. Wesley

Candidate for MS in Bioengineering
Department of Chemical, Biological and Bio Engineering
North Carolina A&T State University
Greensboro, NC


11 AM – 11:50 AM – Friday, April 10, 2015

McNair Hall Lecture Room 2 (NOT LR4 – this week only)


Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) is an overuse injury in the lower extremity associated with endurance running. MTSS is a palpitation of pain of at least 5 centimeters along the medial tibia with possible microfractures in the tibia. The various risk factors which may lead to the development of MTSS are body mass index, over pronation, heel striking, level of shod in the running shoe, type and angle of running surface, high volume training, age, gender, stride length, range of motion, and calf girth. Few investigations have been made to limit these risk factors through the utilization of finite element analysis (FEA). This study investigates the likelihood of MTSS developing and the possibility of microfractures in the tibia under varying conditions of pronation degree, body mass index, material property, and gait phase. FEA was used in order to measure the von Mises stress of 24 human tibia models. The simulations were run for three main phases of gait “impact”, “mid-stance”, and “push-off”. The risk factors under investigation were intrinsic in nature, which are over pronation (OP) and body mass index (BMI). Forces were input for 2 male subjects running at 8 miles per hour on a flat surface. Simulations were run for isotropic and orthotropic tibia models with “normal pronation and normal BMI”, “over pronation and normal BMI”, “normal pronation and high BMI”, and “over pronation and high BMI”. FEA revealed that the combination of over pronation and high BMI consistently had the greatest von Mises stresses throughout each phase of gait for isotropic and orthotropic tibia models. Statistical results show that material properties had the greatest effect on the measured von Mises stress followed by pronation degree, gait phase, and BMI. A normality test with a confidence interval of 95% proved that the distribution of von Mises stress across was acceptable for all models with P=0.130. Factorial ANOVA was run for gait phase, BMI, pronation degree, and material property, which also confirmed the greatest effects on von Mises stress are material property, pronation degree, gait phase, and then BMI.


About the Speaker

Robert Allen Wesley has a passion for research and intellectual challenge. In 2008, he started working in the environmental health and safety laboratory at East Tennessee State University. He was given little training and was self-taught in spectroscopy and spectrophotometry while analyzing water samples collected from local rivers and creeks. In his two years of working for the university, he taught himself the principles of furnace and flame atomic absorption and wrote a user’s manual for the laboratory instrumentation.

In 2010, he transferred to Tennessee Technological University to start his pursuit of a chemical engineering bachelor’s degree. It took two years to become fully immersed in the program. He served as Community Service Chairman and Vice President of the American Institute for Chemical Engineers student chapter. In 2012, he researched the potential of 5th generation polyamidoamine dendrimers as nanocarriers for pharmaceuticals, with the focus of analyzing biocompatibility and cytotoxicity with Dr. Robby Sanders. In 2013, he worked under Dr. Cynthia Rice, operating fuel cell test stations, preparing formic acid solution, analyzing the performance data collected from fuel cells having a palladium catalyst, and learning the principles of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy.

Nearing graduation from Tennessee Technological University, he interviewed with several of the professors of the Chemical, Biological, and Bioengineering department of North Carolina A&T State University. Despite the campus being on lockdown due to a suspected gunman, he chose to willingly enter the building in hopes that his interviews with the professors would be well worth the risk. He met one of his influential professors that day, Dr. Matthew McCullough. Robert interviewed with Dr. McCullough two more times before joining Dr. McCullough’s computational biomechanics research team.