Ryan Neufeld

Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Panayiotis S Shiakolas


Scoliosis, a disease that mainly affects children, is a deformity of the spinal column in all three dimensions. Treatment for scoliosis aims at straightening the spine with minimal discomfort to the patient. Current treatments involve wearing a polymeric brace that based on its design, exerts force on the spine in order to straighten it. The shape of the brace and the locations where the brace should apply forces are defined based on the experience of the orthotics specialist. Currently used braces are not equipped with sensors to monitor the loads generated and possibly aid in the rehabilitation process. The rehabilitation procedure could be improved if the brace design process is based on more fundamental analysis and the forces exerted by the brace could be monitored during rehabilitation. In this research, simplified two dimensional and three dimensional finite element models of the spinal column including the ribs and sternum were developed and used to qualitatively study the effects of brace forces on the spinal deformation using finite element analysis tools. These models were used to understand the spinal deformation as a function of the magnitude of force and application location. In addition, an actual brace was successfully outfitted with sensors (strain gauges and pressure) and interfaced with a data acquisition system to acquire the strain on the brace under loading. The results of this research effort will be employed to improve scoliosis rehabilitation and to gain a better understanding of the rehabilitation process.


Aerospace Engineering | Engineering | Mechanical Engineering


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington