The biomechanics of wounds at physiologically relevant levels: understanding skin’s stress-shielding effect for the quantitative assessment of healing

Sara Medina-Lombardero, Connor Bain, Laura Charlton, Antonella Pellicoro, Holly Rocliffe, Jenna Cash, Robert Reuben, Michael L. Crichton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Wounds are responsible for the decrease in quality of life of billions of people around the world. Their assessment relies on subjective parameters which often delays optimal treatments and results in increased healthcare costs. In this work, we sought to understand and quantify how wounds at different healing stages (days 1, 3, 7 and 14 post wounding) change the mechanical properties of the tissues that contain them, and how these could be measured at clinically relevant strain levels, as a step towards quantitative wound tracking technologies. To achieve this, we used digital image correlation and mechanical testing on a mouse model of wound healing to map the global and local tissue strains. We found no significant differences in the elastic and viscoelastic properties of wounded vs unwounded skin when samples were measured in bulk, presumably as these were masked by the protective mechanisms of skin, which redistributes the applied loads to mitigate high stresses and reduce tissue damage. By measuring local strain values and observing the distinct patterns they formed, it was possible to establish a connection between the healing phase of the tissue (determined by the time post-injury and the observed histological features) and the overall mechanical behaviour. Importantly, these parameters were measured from the surface of the tissue, using physiologically relevant strains without increasing the tissue's damage. Adaptations of these approaches for clinical use have the potential to aid in the identification of skin healing problems, such as excessive inflammation or lack of mechanical progression over time. An increase, decrease, or lack of change in the elasticity and viscoelasticity parameters, can be indicative of wound state, thus ultimately leading to improved diagnostic outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100963
JournalMaterials Today Bio
Volume25
Early online date17 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

Keywords

  • Biomechanics
  • Collagen alignment
  • Digital image correlation
  • Skin
  • Tensile testing
  • Viscoelasticity
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Cell Biology
  • Biomaterials

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The biomechanics of wounds at physiologically relevant levels: understanding skin’s stress-shielding effect for the quantitative assessment of healing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this