A dynamic nonlinear finite element model was developed to study juxtarticular stresses in the splinted rabbit knee, an established laboratory model for creating osteoarthrosis due to impulsive loading. Plane strain finite element results were validated by comparison with corresponding experimental data. Parametric effects studied included the input tibial displacement speed, the local bone density distribution, and the modulus of cartilage and subchondral bone. While the computed resultant contact force magnitude was sensitive to a number of model parameters, the stress patterns, when normalized to a given resultant force magnitude, were not. Despite comparable force peaks, the finite element results showed approximately six-fold higher effective strain rate levels for a severely impulsive loading protocol known to induce rapid osteoarthrosis, versus those for a mildly impulsive loading protocol not usually associated with cartilage damage. A propensity for elevated shear in the deep cartilage layer near the contact periphery, observed in nearly all computed stress distributions, is consistent with previous experimental findings of fissuring at that level in the impulsively loaded rabbit knee.

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