Musculoskeletal Biomechanics & Imaging Laboratory

“The Musculoskeletal Biomechanics and Imaging Laboratory studies the mechanisms behind soft tissue injury within the human body. Our approach combines developing technologies in the fields of robotics and ultrasound imaging to quantify mechanical changes to human joints and their underlying muscles, tendons, and ligaments. We have a particular interest in examining the effects of cancer treatment on breast cancer patients, as these patients have a high risk of developing shoulder complications in the months and years after treatment. By understanding the mechanisms of why certain patients become injured, we hope to develop prospective strategies to identify and rehabilitate at-risk patients to improve quality of life in cancer survivors.”
Dr. David Lipps, Director and Assistant Professor of Movement Science

Learn more at

MBIL Lipps lab


CCRB 1260
401 Washtenaw Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2214
(734) 764-3832
(734) 936-1925



Quantifying healthy neuromuscular control of the shoulder

The shoulder joint complex has vast mobility and is prone to injury. Our lab is interested in understanding how neuromuscular activation and posture influence healthy shoulder mechanics. Our lab utilizes a robotic device to measure shoulder mechanics in a single plane of movement, and is developing new ways to simultaneously assess the shoulder in all 3 planes of movement. These assessments of healthy shoulder mechanics are important baseline measures as we expand these technologies to assess a variety of shoulder pathologies.

Uncovering mechanisms responsible for shoulder morbidity following radiotherapy

The number of breast cancer survivors in the United States is rapidly growing due to advancements in the early detection and treatment of tumors. Upwards of 1/3rd of breast cancer patients whose diagnosis is treated conservatively (including surgery and radiotherapy) experience pain and restricted mobility within their treated shoulder within 5 years of treatment. Given the growing number of cancer survivors, clinicians need a better understanding regarding the time progression and pathophysiology of these shoulder complications. Our lab is currently examining breast cancer patients undergoing a variety of radiation therapy treatments to understand how the shoulder joint and its underlying muscles are affected after treatment is completed. With this information, we can better a patient’s clinical care to improve their post-cancer quality of life. This project is generously supported by a Susan G. Komen fellowship for Dr. Lipps.

Assessing the effectiveness of at-home cancer rehabilitation programs

There is currently no standard of care rehabilitation program for cancer patients treated for head, neck, or breast cancers, despite the risk of poor physical outcomes and reduced quality of life. Our lab, in collaboration with Dr. Sean Smith and Dr. Shruti Jolly in the U-M Medical School, is studying the effectiveness of a 6-week at-home rehabilitation program in reducing the complications of cancer treatment. This project is supported by MCubed 2.0 funds.