All the tissues that support, connect, or surround the other structure or organ are called
soft tissues. It includes ligaments, fascia, nerves, blood vessels, synovial membranes, etc.
These tissues with bone provide the structure of the body.
Any injuries to these tissues are called musculoskeletal injuries. Generally, these injuries
are a result of direct blow, strain, or sprain; barring major complications soft tissue
injuries are not life threatening. These injuries affect the natural movement of human
body. Hence, these injuries decrease the quality of life. The musculoskeletal injuries can
be classified in two groups namely closed wounds and open wounds. The assessment of
open wound is relatively easy. The edge and color of wound can be the indicators of the
health of the wound. For example, pink edges indicate growth of new tissue; dusky edges
indicate hypoxia. Similarly, the proximity of edge can be a sign of healing.
On the other hand, the assessment of close wound is very subjective. Magnetic
Resonance Imaging (MRI), X-rays or ultrasound are usually performed to diagnose the
musculoskeletal injuries, but an MRI is very costly and time consuming. Further, the
exposure to high magnetic field can disturb the normal functioning of thermoregulation
of the body. X-ray is radiative in nature; moreover, it can only see the damage to bone.
Ultrasound is a very subjective technique. Further, most of the existing technology can
only see the anatomical changes. So, in order to assess the musculoskeletal injuries other
technique needs to be explored.
One of the exciting aspects of the human body is self-regulating heat mechanism. The
distribution of body temperature depends on the complex relationship that is defined by
heat exchange process between skin, tissue, inner tissue, local vascular and metabolic
activity. The heat profile of normal person would be maintained by thermoregulation
using blood flow, but due to the disease or any other injury, it would be disturbed. If
there is ample supply of blood, then the temperature of the body remains higher,
whenever it is blocked by some mechanical or biological activity then that part is bound
to have lower temperature. The blockage and excess supply of blood is known as
vasoconstriction and vasodilation respectively. This disturbance can be used as an
indicator to detect the disease or injury. This abnormality or thermal disturbance created
by disease is detected by a non-contact, non-radiative and less time-consuming technique
called thermal imaging (TI). So, the potential of thermal imaging technique is observed
for the assessment of musculoskeletal injuries. The focussed diseases for this study are a).
Knee osteoarthritis (OA), b). Total knee replacement.