The mathematical modelling of syringomyelia
Harris, P.J. and Hardwidge, C (2008) The mathematical modelling of syringomyelia In: The Ninth International Conference on Integral Methods in Science and Engineering, July 23-27, 2006, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
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The work presented here is concerned with constructing a mathematical model of the medical condition syringomyelia. This condition is characterised by the formation of voids or splits in the spinal cord. While the condition is in its early stages the patient may not be aware of it, but as it worsens they can progressively lose the feeling in one or more limbs and it can ultimately lead to the paralysis of the affected limbs. The mechanics of Syringomyelia formation has been the subject of considerable debate. One hypothesis is that the formation and growth of these voids in the spinal cord is primarily due to the forces which result from pressure changes in the fluid which surrounds the cord. In this study we have devised a simple model of the spinal cord which can be solved using the finite element method. Our initial studies were with a simple elastic model but further studies have been conducted with a visco-elastic model which may prove to give a more realistic response of biological type materials under different levels of external loading. This work is at an early stage but the results so obtained so far are encouraging.
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