Adopting the systems science approach is vital moving forward, he said.
"Back pain research is at a crossroads," said Reeves, who is establishing a Center for Spine System-Science at MSU, which will bring together top researchers from across the world. "There are a lot of questions that need to be addressed, and we need the right framework to answer them."
Currently, Reeves and colleagues are developing systems science methods to integrate data obtained from the testing of cadaver spines and muscular control of live subjects. The next step is to define the spine as a complete system, meaning researchers can predict the response of the system to any type of disturbance or evaluate the system to various forms of impairment (degenerative disc disease or muscle wasting common with low back pain).
"The spine is extremely complex; you cannot fully appreciate medical conditions without looking at the big picture," he said. "If you were building a new airplane, it would be impossible and dangerous to design the parts of the plane in isolation and not considering how these individuals parts would interact with one another. The spine is no different."
|Contact: Jason Cody|
Michigan State University