An electromechanical model for charged, hydrated tissues is developed to predict the kinetics of changes in swelling and isometric compressive stress induced by changes in bath salt concentration. The model focuses on ionic transport as the rate limiting step in chemically modulating electrical interactions between the charged macromolecules of the extracellular matrix. The swelling response to such changes in local interaction forces is determined by the relative rates of chemical diffusion and fluid redistribution in the tissue sample. We have tested the model by comparing the experimentally observed salt-induced stress relaxation response in bovine articular cartilage and corneal stroma to the response predicted by the model using constitutive relations for the concentration dependent material properties of the tissues reported in a related study. The qualitatively good agreement between our experimental measurements and the predictions of the model supports the physical basis of the model and demonstrates the model’s ability to discriminate between the two soft connective tissues that were examined.

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