A Pioneering Spine Biomechanics Lab for Children

Columbus, OH — September 2017

When a child’s spine is laterally deviated, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon can rotate it in coronal and/or sagittal planes, straighten it with pedicle screws or other metallurgy and have a good cosmetic result.

Other results are important too, though.

“The question is, what are we doing to the residual spine, to the adjacent motion segments?” says Walter P. “Quincy” Samora, MD, a member of the Department of Orthopaedics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “If we know what the forces on a child’s spine are, and how, for example, placing more screws will affect those forces, we can have better functional outcomes.”

In July 2018, Nationwide Children’s will open the Honda Center for Gait Analysis and Mobility Enhancement (GAME). As part of that center, Dr. Samora will lead a first-of-its-kind Spine Biomechanics Lab that marries an advanced motion capture system, force plates and electromyography to achieve a sophisticated understanding of spinal motion and forces.

Gathering normative data will be one of the lab's first projects, since there is so little available on child spinal motion, says Dr. Samora, who is also a clinical assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

From there, though, the applications become almost limitless. Dr. Samora envisions surgical simulations using force and motion data that could help surgeons determine the correct placement of pedicle screws for children with scoliosis – or determine if those screws are even the proper intervention.

“The goals are to enhance surgical and nonsurgical indications,” he says. “We could know if an intervention is going to be a success before we attempt it.”