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

Good health and well-being Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

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


Introduction to Biomedical Engineering and preparatory elements

  • Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering: methodologies, applications, professional figures
  • Elements of biology and physiology: from biomolecules to cells, tissues, organisms
  • Osmotic pressure: exchanges of liquids and electrolytes between the extracellular and intracellular compartments
  • A unifying vision: conservation principles and balance equations. Example: Mass balance of a drug
  • Linear regression: the least squares method; Examples
  • The Matlab language
  • Seminar 1. Mathematical models: numerical simulation and parametric identification with the use of Matlab

    Compartmental models

  • Compartmental models, instruments that describe the movement of substances (nutrients, drugs, etc.) within the human body: definitions and properties.
  • Formulation and use of compartmental models.
  • Examples: chemical reaction, liver function test (Matlab)

    Artificial kidney

  • The kidney
  • Renal dialysis: compartmental model. Determination of the dialysis dose. The dialyzer: setting of the machine parameters
  • Descriptive and design elements of the artificial kidney
  • Example: Simulation of three weekly dialysis (Matlab)


  • Transport phenomena
  • Cell membrane model
  • Genesis of membrane potentials: the action potential
  • The electrocardiogram (ECG), the electroencephalogram (EEG) and the electromyogram (EMG)
  • Seminar 2. Life support systems: pacemakers and defibrillators
  • Seminar 3. Bioelectrical signal processing: ECG, EMG (Matlab)


  • The basics of biomechanics are introduced. The models explored are those of the material point, of the rigid body and of the multisegmented 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, dynamometry, 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 equipment; 2) the evaluation of the kinematics of the body during the execution of simple motor tasks: walking, raising from a chair, jumping, orthostatic posture, etc.; 3) the evaluation of the dynamics through the use of the force platform and the electromyography; 4) 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.



Cappello A., Cappozzo A., Di Prampero P.E. Bioingegneria della postura e del movimento, Collana di Ingegneria Biomedica, 2003, Patron Editore.

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

Özkaya N., Nordin M., Goldsheyder D., Leger D. Fundamentals of Biomechanics: Equilibrium, Motion, and Deformation. Italian translation (Cappello A., Chiari L., eds.) Fondamenti di biomeccanica. Equilibrio, movimento e deformazione, Padova, Piccin Nuova Libraria spa, 2021

Teaching methods

The course program is held in the classroom through a series of lectures. The course is complemented by seminars, computer exercises in the Matlab environment, and 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.

In consideration of the type of activity and teaching methods adopted, the attendance of this training activity requires the prior participation of all students in modules 1 and 2 of the training on safety in the study places [https: //elearning-sicurezza.unibo.it /] in e-learning mode.

Assessment methods

MODULE 1: learning will be verified through a written test containing two exercises and some multiple choice questions.

MODULE 2: Learning will be verified through the presentation and discussion of the project.

The final mark will be the average of the marks obtained for MODULE 1 and MODULE 2.

Teaching tools

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

Office hours

See the website of Lorenzo Chiari

See the website of Silvia Fantozzi