Applied biomechanics is a field of study that includes both mechanical engineering and biology. A great deal of the work done in biomechanics is in the repair of injuries to the musculoskeletal system. When injuries are preventable, biomechanics may also suggest ways for engineers to protect people. Research in biomechanics is often conducted through the use of computer simulation and human dummies that can stand in for real people during an impact test. A professional who works in applied biomechanics will develop real-world uses for the knowledge gained through biomechanical experimentation.
A complete knowledge of the workings of the musculoskeletal system is necessary for a person who works in applied biomechanics. The complex relationships between the bones, muscles, connective tissues, and organs greatly influence what happens to a person when there is an accidental injury. By understanding the way that the hip socket works, for example, biomechanical engineering has been responsible for the development of replacement joints that allow patients the full range of motion they had before they became injured or impaired. Biomechanics has also allowed for the creation of artificial limbs that allow patients to make sophisticated movements with mechanical hands or feet.
While a large component of applied biomechanics involves the construction of artificial body parts, another aspect of this field is the prevention of injury in the first place. In applied biomechanics, models of humans, which can be computer generated or mechanical, are placed in situations where real humans could be seriously injured, such as in car crashes or explosions. Sensors on these models allow scientists to determine exactly how they were affected by the impact. This type of research has led to such things as the construction of safer vehicles with airbags that cushion people in serious car accidents and automobile frames that buckle to absorb the brunt of the force caused by an impact.
People who study applied biomechanics do so with the intention of making improvements to existing technology or creating new, safer and more reliable technology. While experiments that study how a human body would respond in a situation that it would never wind up in, such as on the surface of a planet with a mass 1,000 times that of the Earth, may be interesting from a scientific standpoint, there is little practical application for that type of work. In applied biomechanics, the data gathered will help scientists and engineers develop better technology that people can make use of right away.