Understanding the kinematics of the lumbosacral spine and the individual functional spinal units (FSU) is essential in assessing spine mechanics and implant performance. The lumbosacral spine and the FSU are comprised of bones and complex soft tissues such as intervertebral discs (IVD) and ligaments. Prior studies have focused on the behavior of isolated structures, but the contribution of each structure to the overall kinematics of the spine needs to be further understood. In this study, the behavior of various structural conditions was determined by experimentally dissecting each ligament in a stepwise fasion until only the IVD remained, and applying loading conditions to the FSU. The FE model was validated through optimization to match the in vitro load-deflection characteristics and contact mechanics for the various structural configurations.

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