Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Fundamentals of mechanics of living tissues. After attending the course the student will be able to:
- Understand the mechanical properties and time-dependence of living tissues.
- Develop and analyze experiments for mechanical testing biological tissues.

Course contents

Recalling concepts of mechanics of materials:
- Elasticity, plasticity, viscoelasticity, pseudoelasticity
- Failure criteria (brittle, ductile, viscoelastic, fatigue)

Structure and composition of living tissues:
- Structural components
- Structure and organization and properties of tissues

Classification and description of main tissues (based on function; based on mechanical properties):
- Bone
- Ligaments
- Tendons
- Cartilage
- Menisci

Mechanical properties of tissues and response to mechanical stress:
- Function, structure, mechanical properties
- Elasticity, viscoelasticity
- Mechanical strength and trauma of tissues
- Growth, modelling, healing, and remodelling

Methods for mechanical testing of biological tissues:
- Problems related to testing (measurement error, error propagation, design of the experiment)
- Types of test (tensile, bending compression, friction, creep, hysteresis, viscosity, etc).
- Measurement devices

Laboratory activity:
The course is based on a series of weekly laboratory testing (some numerical, but mainly experimental, in-vitro). Experiments will be carried out measuring biomechanical properties of tissue specimens and of biomechanical systems. Each student must prepare a technical report for each of the experiments. The report must be short and exhaustive, covering: introduction and goals of the experiments; description of specimens and testing devices; presentation of results (including analysis of errors); discussion of results and conclusive remarks.


The course relies on a set of slides intended to cover the entire program. The slides are made available to the students during the course through the UniBo web services. They can be downloaded from the online services of UniBo Insegnamenti Online (UniBo students only)

Further reading (optional):
- Montevecchi F., Redaelli A. “Biomeccanica. Analisi multiscala di tessuti biologici” Patron Pubbl. 2007
- Fung Y.C. “Biomechanics: Mechanical properties of living tissues” Springer-Verlag Publ., 1981 (properties of tissues)
- Fung Y.C. “Biomechanics: Motion, flow, stress and growth” Springer-Verlag Publ., 1990 (tissue adaptation and healing)
- Beer F.P., Russel J.E. "Scienza delle costruzioni. Introduzione alla meccanica dei materiali" McGraw-Hill Publ. (mechanics of materials, with examples)
- Nordin M., Frankel V.H. "Basic biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system" Lea & Febiger Publ. (exercises and examples in biomechanics)
- Black J., Hastings G. "Handobook of biomaterial properties" Chapman & Hall Publ. (properties of tissues)
- Bronzino J.D. "The Biomedical engineering handbook" CRC Press - IEEE Press (general handbook)
- Palastanga et al. "Anatomy and human movement" Butterworth-Heinemann Publ. (functional anatomy)
- Pietrabissa R. "Biomateriali per protesi e organi artificiali" Patron ed. (biomaterials)

Teaching methods

The theoretical lectures are supported and complemented by a series of weekly experiments in the lab.


Requirements to be enable to attend the labs

Because of the kind of laboratory activity planned, the labs can be attended only by those students who took the relevant safety courses (modules 1 and 2 e-learning) and attended module 3.

Assessment methods

Oral exam (covering the teaching program, the lab experiments). Please contact me for details

Teaching tools

Lectures with projector and chalkboard. Experimental laboratory work includes the use of tools for the preparation of in-vitro tissue specimens, and of machines for material testing.

Office hours

See the website of Luca Cristofolini


Good health and well-being

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.