A comprehensive approach for studying the mechanics of partially intact muscle-tendon (MT) complexes was developed. This approach utilizes a work station which integrates state-of-the-art equipment and software. The hardware includes a nerve stimulator, ergometer, high speed video camera and recorder, computer, and temperature regulated chamber. When used in conjunction with a small animal muscle model, the work station provides accurate control of muscle stimulation, MT length, and MT shortening or stretching velocity. Simultaneously, muscle force and both muscle and tendon kinematics can be recorded. This approach is unique in that it allows simultaneous testing of both muscle and tendon under physiological conditions. Additionally, both gross and local deformations of the muscle and tendon can be determined. Sample results from a study of a rat tibialis anterior muscle illustrate the utility of this approach.

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