Maintaining mobility after fracture: A biomechanical analysis of fracture consequences at the Roman Sites of Ancaster (UK) and Vagnari (Italy) Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • OBJECTIVE: This study uses biomechanical data from tibiae to investigate the functional consequences of lower limb fractures. Adults with malunited fractures are hypothesized to have experienced altered mobility, indicated by asymmetric tibial cross-sectional geometries (CSG). MATERIALS: Ninety-three adults from Roman (1st to 4th centuries CE) Ancaster, UK and Vagnari, Italy (Ancaster n = 16 adults with lower limb fracture:53 without fracture; Vagnari n = 5:19) METHODS: Biplanar radiographs were used to quantify and compare tibial CSG properties and asymmetries between individuals with and without fractures to femora, tibiae, and/or fibulae. The amount of angulation, rotation, and overlap, indicative of linear deformity, were measured for each fracture. Individuals who loaded their fractured leg differently than their opposite, uninjured leg were identified using outlying amounts of CSG asymmetry. RESULTS: Two Ancaster individuals had poorly aligned fractures. None of the Ancaster or Vagnari individuals with lower limb fractures had CSG properties or asymmetries outside the calculated normal ranges. CONCLUSIONS: Regardless of how a fracture healed, individuals at Ancaster and Vagnari generally resumed mobility after trauma whenever possible. SIGNIFICANCE: This research contributes information about injury recovery and suggests that resilient behaviors and persistent mobility may have been valued or required responses to fracture in the study communities. This work advises that impairment should not be inferred based solely on the appearance of lesions. LIMITATIONS: Site, sex, and age patterns in injury recovery are not evaluated due to sample size limitations. SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH: Biomechanical assessments of post-traumatic function in varied cultural contexts are advised in order to further characterize the impact that physical and social factors have on injury recovery.

publication date

  • March 2019