A standard biomechanical testing protocol for evaluation of the sub-axial cervical spine is the application of pure bending moments to the free end of the spine (with opposing end fixed) and measurement of its motion response. The pure moment protocol is often used to compare spinal fusion instrumentation and has also been used to evaluate non-fusion instrumentation (e.g. disc arthroplasty devices) [1,2]. A variety of different testing systems have been employed to implement pure moment application. In cases where the loading is applied quasi-statically using a series of weights and pulleys the spine may relax between intermittent loading phases and/or unintended loading may be applied causing experimental artifact. Our objective was to use an existing programmable robotic testing platform (Spine Robot) to develop a novel real time force control strategy to simulate pure moment loading under precisely controlled continuous movement conditions. This would serve to advance robotic testing capabilities with an end goal to simulate different protocols in the same platform, and to potentially minimize fixturing and quasi-static artifacts.

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