I am often asked what the difference is between Biomedical Engineering and Biomechanical Engineering because I have a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Biomechanics. Biomedical Engineering is the application of general engineering solutions that can be applied to biological and clinical areas of study. Under Biomedical Engineering, there can be numerous other engineering modalities in play, for example, if a drug delivery system (DDS) overmedicates a patient, a Biomedical Engineer can investigate if and how the machine malfunctioned.
Biomedical Engineers are normally trained in different areas of engineering to be able to design, test, and maintain medical devices, medical products, or other biological systems. Biomechanics is a subset of Biomedical Engineering in which mechanics or mechanical engineering principles are applied to the human systems. Biomechanical Engineering applies principles like mass, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, kinetics, dynamics, mechanics of materials, among others to analyze biological systems. For example, a Biomechanical Engineer should be able to identify the motion of living systems and then understand the properties of those systems in order to identify how living systems will react, fail or be injured by stress, loads, or chemical changes.
How can these disciplines be applied to the forensic fields? Well, the training of a Biomedical Engineering can be applied to many forensic areas like product liability (medical products, devices, or implants), interaction of medical devices with human tissues and biological systems, and investigation of biological systems that interact with the human body (disinfectants, cleaning products, drugs, etc.). Injuries or damage caused in the area of medicine by medical products, implants, or devices can be areas where a Biomedical Engineer can offer assistance where a physician cannot. For example, if a venous closure device detaches from the insertion site and causes an occlusion of blood flow down the vasculature, a Biomedical Engineer may assist in analyzing and explaining the causes of such an incident.
Forensic Biomechanical Engineers have been around as forensic experts for some time. Since Biomechanical Engineers apply the science of mechanics to biological systems, they can offer assistance in understanding body movement, and how from those movements, injuries did or did not occur. Biomechanical Engineers analyze cases that deal with vehicular accidents; work and sports related injuries; injuries as a result of slip, trip and falls; injuries from machine interactions and tools; and strange accidents where the analysis of the injury, description of the accident and environment where the incident took place, can offer assistance in understanding and explaining how such an accident happened or did not happen.
As a Forensic Biomedical and Biomechanical Engineer, I have worked on cases investigating injuries such as slip, trip and falls; automobile accidents; construction related accidents; injuries from medical implants, devices, and other medical products. In addition, I investigate accidents where individuals were injured, but are not sure as to how the injury occurred. Depending upon the incident circumstances, this work can be equally beneficial to either the plaintiff(s) or defendant(s). A Biomechanical Engineer can analyze the incident circumstances in order to determine if the testimony, environment, and conditions were consistent with the subject’s injury and/or accident. If there is a case that may require explaining the injury of the plaintiff or understanding how a person could or could not have fallen from their testimony, you may need the help of Biomechanical Engineer. However, if there is a case where a medical device may have contributed to an injury or a vascular or orthopedic implant failed, the assistance of a Biomedical Engineer would likely be required.
If you have the need for a Biomechanical or Biomedical Engineer, please feel free to contact Dr. Calderón at 610-296-2250 or email@example.com.