Exactly what is orthopedic bioengineering? A biomedical engineering specialty, orthopedic bioengineering uses computational mechanics and engineering to form a deeper understanding of the function of the human body’s joints with the goal of inventing promising new techniques and materials that will improve health care options and treatments.
The Science of Orthopedic Bioengineering
In the exciting, in-demand field of biomedical engineering, engineering and design principles are applied to medical subjects. Engineering techniques and concepts are used to study various medical problems with the ultimate goal of developing innovative solutions for them. Orthopedic bioengineering applies this approach to the joints, studying the functions and interactions of bones, muscles and joints. Orthopedic bioengineers perform stress analyses of the musculoskeletal system, analyze the effects of friction and lubrication, study the wear characteristics of biological and synthetic materials, and complete gait and motion studies.
Practical Applications for Orthopedic Bioengineering
Orthopedic bioengineering, like other forms of medical bioengineering, offers tremendous possibilities for medical advances. By creating a more thorough understanding of how something functions, or even how it fails to function, medical bioengineers help point the way toward new treatments, techniques and tools. The work done by orthopedic bioengineers contributes to the design of better artificial joints, assists in devising improvements to prosthetics, and even aids in the development of biological and synthetic biomaterials that can be used to replace damaged or diseased bones, cartilage, meniscus, intervertebral discs, tendons and ligaments. Orthopedic bioengineers can also use motion studies to predict patient outcomes after surgeries or to understand and improve athletic performance.
Educational Requirement for Orthopedic Bioengineers
The Biomedical Engineering Society, the professional society for bioengineers and biomedical engineers, recommends students interested in pursuing careers in orthopedic bioengineering and other medical bioengineering fields study engineering, life sciences, and biomedical engineering terminology. Because biomedical engineers work hand in hand with professionals from other disciplines, good communication skills are also a must. With the demand for biomedical engineers expected to grow, many colleges and universities now offer degree programs in the subject. Interested students should look for a program accredited by the American Board of Engineering Technology. Students should expect to earn at least a bachelor’s degree; many students choose to pursue graduate degrees.
Jobs in Medical Bioengineering
With an aging population that requires more medical care and a growing awareness of the potential benefits of bioengineering advances, opportunities for professionals trained in medical bioengineering are skyrocketing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting a nearly 30 percent job growth in the field over the next decade. While salaries depend on the exact nature of the job and its location, the median annual wage for medical bioengineers exceeds $85,000. Most will find employment with universities, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, research facilities, medical device companies and government agencies. Some work in sales positions for biomaterial and biotechnology business, serving as a link between doctors, researchers and producers of medical devices. Others choose to attend dental or medical schools. Some even attend law school with the intention of specializing in the application of patent and intellectual property laws to biomedical devices.
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People are always eager for new technologies and techniques that offer the promise of better medical treatments. As the list of advancements credited to medical bioengineering grows, fewer people will be left wondering what orthopedic bioengineering is; most will know it is a field that offers the potential for fantastic medical breakthroughs.