28725 - Bioengineering T-1

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student has acquired the basic knowledge on the main physiological systems. He is able to formulate, even through laboratory exercises, simple mathematical models of physiological systems (cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, metabolic, neuro-musculoskeletal) and to validate them starting from experimental measures. He will be able to face a simple diagnostic process starting from the parametric identification of these models. He has acquired the basics on the principles of operation and the design of some life support systems (defibrillator, pacemaker, artificial kidney).

Course contents

This introductory course illustrates the basic methodologies of biomedical engineering and their application to the study of the main physiological systems and to diagnosis, therapy and rehabilitation.

Course program:

1. Introduction

  • Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering: methodologies, appli-cations, professional figures.
  • Review of biology and physiology: from biomolecules to cells, tissues and organisms.
  • Osmotic pressure: exchange of liquids and electrolytes between the extracellular and intracellular compartments.
  • A unifying vision: conservation principles and balance equations. Example: mass balance of a drug.
  • Mathematical models as tools for hypothesis validation and for diagnostics, therapy and rehabilitation.

2. Preparatory elements

  • Linear regression: the least squares method. Examples.
  • Matlab language.
  • Exercises in the laboratory with the use of Matlab.

3. The cardio-circulatory system

  • The cardio-circulatory system, by which our body transports matter, energy and information, is presented in physical-mathematical terms.
  • The blood. Physical properties: density and viscosity.
  • The heart: model of the ventricular pump and valves.
  • The circulatory system: models of arterial, venous and microcirculation systems. Resistive, elastic and inertial effects.
  • Models of the cardio-circulatory system.
  • Exercises in the laboratory with the use of Matlab.

4. Compartment models

  • Compartment models, instruments that describe the movement of substances (nutrients, drugs, etc.) within the human body: definitions and properties.
  • Formulation and use of compartment models.
  • Parameter estimation as a diagnostic tool.
  • Examples: chemical reaction, liver function test, glucose test.

5. Artificial kidney

  • The kidney
  • Renal dialysis: compartment model. Determination of the dialytic dose. The dializer: setting of machine parameters.
  • Description and design of an artificial kidney.
  • Matlab Laboratory: simulation of three weekly dialysis sessions.

6. Electrophysiology

  • The genesis of bioelectric potentials. The mechanisms by which important biopotentials are generated, such as the action potential, the electrocardiogram (ECG), the electroencephalogram (EEG) and the electromyogram (EMG) are presented in physico-mathematical terms.
  • Some fundamental life support systems are described: the pacemaker, the cardiac defibrillator, the neurostimulators.
  • Design of a defibrillator.
  • Laboratory practical: the defibrillator.
  • Laboratory practical: the acquisition of ECG, EEG, EMG bioelectric signals.
  • Some examples of signal processing: filtering and spectral analysis.

7. Biomechanics

  • The basics of biomechanics are introduced. The models explored are those of the material point, of the rigid body and of the multisegmental chain of rigid bodies, to arrive at providing the essential elements of knowledge in the theoretical and instrumental analysis of human movement, in its cinematic and dynamic aspects.
  • The main devices for the acquisition of the kinematics and the dynamics of human movement are illustrated: stereo-photogrammetry, dynamo-metry, electromyography, wearable sensors.
  • Three practicals are carried out at the Movement Analysis Laboratory with the following objectives: 1) the evaluation of the accuracy and precision of the equipments; 2) the recall of some basic concepts of the mechanics of the material point and of the rigid body (estimation of gravity acceleration, compound pendulum); 3) the evaluation of the kinematics of the body during the execution of simple motor tasks: walking, raising from a chair, jumping, orthostatic posture, etc.; 4) the evaluation of the dynamics through the use of the force platform and the electromyography; 5) the use of wearable sensors for the estimation of angular kinematics. Each of the three practicals is the starting point to the development of a project by a group of students.


Biondi E. Introduzione all’Ingegneria Biomedica, Collana di Ingegneria Bioomedica, 1997, Patron Editore.

Cappello A., Cappozzo A., Prampero P.E. Bioingegneria della postura e del movimento, Gruppo Nazionale di Bioingegneria, 2003, Patron Editore.

Cobelli C., Carson E. Introduzione alla modellistica in fisiologia e medicina, Collana di Ingegneria Biomedica, 2012, Patron Editore.

Teaching methods

The course program is held in the classroom through a series of lectures. The course is complemented by some computer exercises in the Matlab environment and three laboratory practicals related to biomechanics and human movement analysis. The teaching material, consisting of a copy of the power point files, lecture notes and exercises, is made available online before the lesson.

Assessment methods

The learning will be verified through a written test containing two exercises and some multiple choice questions on parts 1-6 of the program. The exam will be completed with the presentation and discussion of the project on part 7 of the program.

Teaching tools

Power Point slides, videoprojector, PC/laptop with Matlab, Movement Analysis Laboratory.

Office hours

See the website of Angelo Cappello