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Home : News : News
NEWS | April 22, 2024

Biomechanics takes center stage at BAMC

By Daniel J. Calderón Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

The Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center hosted its third annual event to celebrate National Biomechanics Day on April 3.

National Biomechanics Day is a worldwide celebration of biomechanics – the study of forces acting on and generated within the body. Participating biomechanics laboratories use the day to facilitate student outreach by inviting high school students into their labs to learn about biomechanics and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields.

“The goal is for high school students to come into the lab and see what we have to offer,” said Sarah Pesquera, a biomechanical engineer in the CFI’s Military Performance Lab. Pesquera coordinated the event for BAMC. “I have a vision of helping add diversity to biomechanics and reaching out to students who might not know anything about it. I want to give the students the exposure to the whole biomechanics field.”

“This year, we had nine students from (Robert G.) Cole High School,” Pesquera added. “That might not seem like a lot, but it’s more than we’ve had before. The students have parents who likely work either here (BAMC) or on Fort Sam Houston.”

The event helped showcase many of the ongoing projects scientists at the CFI’s Military Performance Lab and the Extremity Trauma & Amputation Center of Excellence are currently working on.

“I brought a group of our health science students to Biomechanics Day at the CFI for two reasons,” said Joseph Treviño, a teacher at Cole High School. “Biomedical engineering and all of the careers associated with it aren’t in the spotlight as much as other healthcare professions, yet they serve such a crucial role in the advancement of medicine. I wanted students to see what this world is like firsthand so that they could expand their career aspirations. Secondly, the CFI is an impressive organization that functions with a lot of pride. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, it’s also full of people who love their job and work hard to make people’s lives better. Students need to see beautiful places and things, and also see selfless individuals who love what they do.”

The students went through several “stations” throughout the CFI. Treviño said the stations were great for the students because they hadn’t had any exposure to the technology and techniques they saw during the event.

The innovations the students were able to experience included a motion capture station, where they learned how CFI researchers used the technology to help patients improve their mobility; a virtual reality station where they were able to learn how the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment, or CAREN, is used for patients; and a skin biomechanics station, where students learned how a patient’s skin interaction with their prosthesis can be detected and improved overall.

Pesquera said she had learned of a study that Montana State University is conducting to determine the impact of Biomechanics Day within the biomechanics field when she was at a biomechanics conference last year. She said researchers at the CFI will be sharing the data they receive from the event they conducted with the university to further that research project.

In the afternoon, the CFI held an open house for BAMC staff, local universities, and local entities with ties to biomechanics.

“Universities with biomechanics or biomedicine departments are the ones I reached out to when I was planning the open house,” Pesquera said. “It’s beneficial for the college students so they can see what military research looks like. Events like this also create opportunities for collaboration for research with universities.”

“I’m very proud of them,” said Dr. Lee Childers, senior scientist for the Extremity Trauma & Amputation Center of Excellence at the CFI’s Military Performance Lab. “Sarah (Pesquera) and the members of the team here have all worked hard to make sure this event showcases so many of our capabilities and educates the students who could be our scientists in the future. I look forward to continuing these events and having even more students come to learn about this exciting field.”