Faculty Profile: J.J. Trey Crisco, PhD

J.J. Trey Crisco
J.J. Trey Crisco, PhD
Henry Fredric Lippitt Professor of Orthopaedic Research
Orthopaedics, Engineering & Biomedical Engineering
Work: +1 401-444-4231
Prof. J.J. Trey Crisco's research interests are in musculoskeletal biomechanics where he focuses on upper extremity mechanics and osteoarthritis using advanced imaging analysis and neuromuscular therapy through toy and game play for children. He also has an extensive interest in sports injury prevention and performance.


Prof. J.J. Trey Crisco majored in Mathematics and Fine Arts at Amherst College and received his doctorate in Applied Mechanics from Yale University. His research interests are in musculoskeletal biomechanics where he focuses on upper extremity mechanics and osteoarthritis using advanced imaging analysis and neuromuscular therapy through toy and game play for children. He also has an extensive interest in sports injury prevention and performance. His work has been primarily funded by the NIH and has resulted in over 165 peer-reviewed publications. He serves on several NIH study sections, editorial boards, and the scientific advisory committees of International Federation of Women's Lacrosse, US Lacrosse and USA Baseball. Prof. Crisco is currently Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics and is a former President of the American Society of Biomechanics. He has taught Basic Biomechanics and Product Design and Development, a joint effort between Industrial Design Department at RISD and Engineering at Brown University.


Yale University

Research Description

Thumb carpometacarpal (CMC) osteoarthritis (OA) is a widespread, disabling disease of undetermined etiology that is far more prevalent in woman than in men. The disease affects 15% of adults over age 30, and two-thirds of women over the age of 55. Loss of thumb function alone imparts a 40%-50% impairment to the upper extremity due to its central role in nearly all grasp and handling tasks. Although recent studies suggest genetics, increased BMI and environmental factors (such as hand use) are likely associated with the development of thumb CMC OA, there is strong empirical and experimental data indicating that altered biomechanics plays a central role in the disease, and, importantly in its treatment. CMC OA is far more prevalent in women than men, and women have flatter joint surfaces, smaller areas of cartilage contact, and higher contact pressures. The interpretation of this is that the CMC joints in women are less biomechanically stable than those in men, and consequently at increased risk for altered joint loading and the onset and/or progression of OA. At this point, however, there are no published studies of CMC joint biomechanics in normal or OA-affected individuals, nor are there any longitudinal studies of joint biomechanics as the disease progresses. We hypothesize CMC joint laxity differs with age and gender, and that joint laxity will predict OA progression in symptomatic, early-stage patients, where CMC joint laxity is defined as articular kinematics that are abnormal in direction and/or magnitude.
This study is designed to generate foundational data on thumb CMC biomechanics in vivo by quantifying and comparing the differences in CMC biomechanics in older women (n = 11, age 45-75 yrs.) and younger women (n = 11, age 18-25 yrs.), and between women and men (n = 11, age 18 – 25 yrs; and n = 11, age 45-75 yrs.) using a cross-sectional experimental design (Aim 1), and, using a longitudinal experimental design, to determine if CMC joint laxity is positively associated with CMC OA progression 1.5 and 3 years after initial diagnosis in patients (N = 80; 45-75 yrs.) who initially present with CMC pain and minimal radiographic evidence of OA (Eaton I/II) (Aim 2). Aim 1 will provide the first in vivo data to date on 3-D biomechanics of the CMC joint during functional tasks, which should provide insight into the role of biomechanics in the disease, and reasons for the high prevalence of OA in women as compared to men. Aim 2 will provide the first quantitative assessment of the biomechanical changes that occur in the CMC joint during early OA progression in this population and will provide the foundation for future studies designed to evaluate the mechanistic relationship between altered joint biomechanics and cartilage degradation. Together, these studies will provide data for the rational design of surgical procedures designed to restore, reproduce, or replace the structural anatomy of the complex CMC joint, as well as baseline data for future randomized control trials and risk factor studies.

Motion-Specific Toy Controllers for Upper Extremity Rehabilitation in Children
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neuromotor impairment comprised of a group of non-progressive clinical syndromes of children that are characterized by motor dysfunction and affects approximately one out of every 500 children. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, braces, orthotics, electrical stimulation, medications and surgery are the current major forms of treatment used to improve strength and joint range of motion, prevent contractures and increase function for hemiplegic cerebral palsy. Recent studies using constraint induced movement therapy and robotic therapy suggest that increased skilled use of disabled muscles may promote functional restoration. A challenge with constraint induced movement therapy is that this intensive therapeutic intervention requires casting a child's "good" limb. Robotic therapy is restricted in its use to institutional settings. The research described in this proposal will develop and evaluate a play controller that encourages the use of affected muscles in order to facilitate functional recovery beyond what can be achieved by currently available therapies. Our approach capitalizes upon a primary learning avenue for children - play. The premise of this proposal is that toy and computer game play will encourage extended use of the impaired limb. Our first specific aim is to optimize and validate the design of a therapeutic play controller for remote controlled (RC) toys and for computer games by comparison with standard optical motion capture measures. Our design requirements include: remote control of commercially available toys and computer games, sensing of targeted relative joint motion, configurable range and gain setting for sensed joint motion, and data recording of joint motion during play. Our second specific aim is to demonstrate the efficacy and usability of the Play Controller using two platforms (RC toys and computer games). This aim will be accomplished in a controlled clinic setting and in a 1-week home pilot study. Joint motion and play measures will be collected during the sessions and analyzed to demonstrate efficacy and usability. Our third specific aim is to acquire validated clinical and quality of life measures of the Play Controller to power our clinical trials. In addition to our clinical outcome measures of hand function, strength, spasticity and tone, we will include quality of life (QOL) measures assessing physical impact and psychosocial functioning. Building upon established therapies while addressing the limitations of their cost, accessibility, and motivation, the significance of our approach is the need for extended neuromuscular therapy in children with impairments. The potential benefits of the technologies developed within this project are translatable to patients of any age and a wide range of extremity neuromotor impairments. This R21 proposal is highly innovative in its approach to develop a play-motivated therapeutic device that incorporates targeted joint motion, massed-practice therapy, activity logging, existing toys and computer games, and cost-effectiveness.

Grants and Awards

TIME Magazine's The Best Inventions of the Year. November 12, 2007, page 86. HITS Football Helmet. Crisco JJ Inventor. Produced by Simbex, LLC, sold by Riddell, Inc

2008 Henry Frederick Lippitt Professor of Orthopaedic Research, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI

2009 Invited lecture. "Thumb CMC Arthroplasty: What We Think We Know…and Don't". Bridges: Connecting the past and the Future Combine Annual Meeting of ASSH and ASHT San Francisco, CA September 3-5, 2009. Weiss A-PC, Ladd, AL, Crisco JJ, Murray W


American Society of Mechanical Engineers 1984 -
American Society of Biomechanics 1987-
Chairman, Membership Committee 1995 - 1998
Program Chair-Elect 1998 - 1999
Program Chair 1999 - 2000
President Elect 2003 - 2004
ASB Awards Committee 2004
President 2004 - 2005
Past President 2005 - 2006
Orthopaedic Research Society 1989 -
ASTM (F08) American Society for Testing & Materials 1993 -
International Society of Biomechanics 1993 -
Cervical Spine Research Society 1994 -
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 1996 -

Funded Research

1R21HD071582-01A1 (Crisco) 07/12-06/14
Motion-Specific Toy Controllers for Upper Extremity Rehabilitation in Children
This project proposes to provide physical therapy to children with impaired muscle function by designing,
fabricating and evaluating novel play controllers that are actually hidden rehabilitative devices.

NIH R01 AR059185-01A1 Crisco (PI) 07/11 – 03/16
"Thumb CMC Biomechanics and Early OA Progression"
The goal is to generate foundational data on thumb CMC biomechanics to determine if CMC joint laxity is associated with OA progression.

NOCSAE (Crisco, PI) 02/12-07/13 (NCE)
Nat'l Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment
Head Acceleration from Various Stick Checks in Girls' Lacrosse: a Surrogate Impact and Pilot Field Study
The overall goal of this project is to determine head accelerations experience in girl's youth and high school lacrosse.

VA241P2354/650D15019 (Resnik, PI)
Providence VA Medical Center/Veterans Administration 02/12 – 12/13 (NCE)
Comparison of Interface Kinematics of Two Transhumeral Prosthetic socket Designs Using X-Ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology (XROMM)
The purpose of this pilot study is to conduct a head to head comparison of two candidate socket designs: the traditional TH socket design and the "high fidelity" socket design.
Role: Subcontractor PI

2P20-GM104937 (previously P20-RR024484); Chen (PI) 10/07 – 9/17
National Institutes of Health
COBRE for Skeletal Health and Repair
Program grant focusing on cartilage health.
Role: Co-Director/Project Mentor

NICHD-HD48638 Greenwald (PI) 04/07-01/12
"Biomechanical Basis of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MBTI)"
The aims are to develop and validate a quantitative model of head impact acceleration that enables translational research to reduce the incidence and negative effects of MTBI.

P20RR024484 Chen (PI) 09/07-07/12
"COBRE for Skeletal Health and Repair"
The goal of this center is to establish a multi-disciplinary translational research center focusing on cartilage and joint health and disease mechanisms and developing repair strategies.

OREF/RJOS/DePuy - Career Development Award Ladd (PI) 7/10-6/11
"Thumb CMC Joint in Women: Anatomy and function in Symptomatic and Early Arthritis Subjects.".
Pilot study of kinematic imaging of the thumb in functional positions, to better understand causes and associations of this common arthritis. Role: Consultant

WM Keck Foundation Science and 02/07 – 09/11
Engineering Research Grant Brainerd (PI)
"Design and Construction of CTX imaging system for musculoskeletal biomechanics research." This project is a collaborative, multi-discinplinary project to design, construct and test a high-speed stereo-flouroscopic imaging system. Role on project: Subcontract PI

NIH/ NICHD R01 HD052127-01 Crisco (PI) 07/06-04/10 (NCE)
"3-D Multi-Articular Models of the Carpus." The project proposes to develop a 3-D multi-articular model of the wrist in order to gain insight into the normal function of the effects of surgical treatment on the ligamentous and cartilaginous structures of the wrist.

National Operating Committee on Standards
for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) Crisco (PI) 02/09-10/10
"Performance of Wood and Non-Wood Baseball Bats"
The specific aim of this study is to determine the actual bat performance of current metal and composite bats in players at three different levels: Little League, High School, and Collegiate.

USA Baseball Crisco (PI) 09/09-10/10
"Performance of Wood and Non-Wood Baseball Bats for Little League"
This study will determine the performance of baseball bats when swung by little league players using novel 3D methods and algorithms.

IPIC of the Greater Providence Chamber 03/10 – 12/10
of Commerce Crisco (PI)
"Toy Technology for Upper Extremity Rehabilitation in Children"
The goal is to create, test and fabricate 25 next-generation upper extremity rehabilitation toys.

Biomedical Research Grant - Kerman Special Fund Crisco (PI) 1/07 – 04/10
"Toys and Technologies for Rehabilitation"
This multi-disciplinary, collaborative project will develop and test toys that are hoped enhance the physical therapy regimen of children with various arm impairments due to brain injury, cerebral palsy or other neurological impairments.

American Society for Surgery of 09/09- 8/10
the Hand/Ortho. Research & Ed. Fdtn. Got (PI)
"Utilization of Computed Tomography to Evaluate the Mechanics of the First CMC Joint During Dynamic Loading" The objective is to determine the 3-D in vivo kinematics of the thumb CMC joint in normal hands and to determine if kinematics differ between men and women.
Role: Mentor to new PI

NIH/NIA 2 R01 AG017021-06 A2 Chen (PI) 12/05-1/10
"Biophysical Regulation of Chondrocyte Differentiation"
The long term goal of this project is to analyze the molecular mechanisms underlying matrix deformation-related cartilage growth using both in vitro and in vivo models. Role on project: Co-investigator.

NIH/NIAMS R01 ARO53648-01 Crisco (PI) 04/06-01/10
"Carpal Kinematics During Functional Tasks." The significance of this work is that it will provide novel data on the in vivo kinematics of the hand and forearm during functional tasks.

Teaching Experience

Independent studies every semester for undergraduates, masters and doctoral students. He has previously taught Basic Biomechanics and a Product Design and Development course in collaboration with RISD. Guest lectures on imaging and biomechanics to undergraduate, graduate, medical and students and residents.

Courses Taught

  • Biomechanics (EN 121)
  • Independent Studies (EN195/196)
  • Product Design and Development (EN292 S32)

Selected Publications

  • Beckwith, J. G., Greenwald, R. M., Chu, J. J., Crisco, J. J., Rowson, S., Duma, S. M., … Collins, M. W. (2013b). Timing of Concussion Diagnosis Is Related to Head Impact Exposure Prior to Injury. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 45(4), 747–754. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182793067 (2013)
  • Ladd, A. L., Weiss, A.-P. C., Crisco, J. J., Hagert, E., Wolf, J. M., Glickel, S. Z., & Yao, J. (2013). The thumb carpometacarpal joint: anatomy, hormones, and biomechanics. Instructional course lectures, 62, 165–179. (2013)
  • Miranda, D. L., Rainbow, M. J., Crisco, J. J., & Fleming, B. C. (2013). Kinematic differences between optical motion capture and biplanar videoradiography during a jump-cut maneuver. Journal of biomechanics, 46(3), 567–573. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.09.023 (2013)
  • Rainbow, M. J., Kamal, R. N., Leventhal, E., Akelman, E., Moore, D. C., Wolfe, S. W., & Crisco, J. J. (2013). In vivo kinematics of the scaphoid, lunate, capitate, and third metacarpal in extreme wrist flexion and extension. The Journal of hand surgery, 38(2), 278–288. doi:10.1016/j.jhsa.2012.10.035 (2013)
  • Wilcox, B. J., Machan, J. T., Beckwith, J. G., Greenwald, R. M., Burmeister, E., & Crisco, J. J. (2013). Head impact mechanisms in men's and women's collegiate ice hockey. Journal of Athletic Training, Accepted for publication March 2013. (2013)
  • Beckwith, J. G., Greenwald, R. M., Chu, J. J., Crisco, J. J., Rowson, S., Duma, S. M., … Collins, M. W. (2013a). Head Impact Exposure Sustained by Football Players on Days of Diagnosed Concussion. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 45(4), 737–746. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182792ed7 (2013)
  • Wilcox, B. J., Beckwith, J. G., Greenwald, R. M., Chu, J. J., McAllister, T. W., Flashman, L. A., … Crisco, J. J. (2013). Head impact exposure in male and female collegiate ice hockey players. Journal of biomechanics. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.10.004 (2013)
  • Daniels, A. H., Paller, D. J., Koruprolu, S., Palumbo, M. A., & Crisco, J. J. (2013). Dynamic Biomechanical Examination of the Lumbar Spine with Implanted Total Spinal Segment Replacement (TSSR) Utilizing a Pendulum Testing System. PloS one, 8(2), e57412. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057412 (2013)
  • Crisco, J. J., Rainbow, M. J., Schwartz, J. B., & Wilcox, B. J. (2013). Batting Cage Performance of Wood and Non-Wood Youth Baseball Bats. Journal of applied biomechanics. (2013)
  • Rainbow, M. J., Miranda, D. L., Cheung, R. T. H., Schwartz, J. B., Crisco, J. J., Davis, I. S., & Fleming, B. C. (2013). Automatic determination of an anatomical coordinate system for a three-dimensional model of the human patella. Journal of biomechanics, 46(12), 2093–2096. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.05.024 (2013)
  • Buffi, J. H., Crisco, J. J., & Murray, W. M. (2013). A method for defining carpometacarpal joint kinematics from three-dimensional rotations of the metacarpal bones captured in vivo using computed tomography. Journal of biomechanics, 46(12), 2104–2108. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.05.019 (2013)
  • Akelman, M. R., Teeple, E., Machan, J. T., Crisco, J. J., Jay, G. D., & Fleming, B. C. (2013). Pendulum mass affects the measurement of articular friction coefficient. Journal of biomechanics, 46(3), 615–618. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.09.034 (2013)
  • Vance, M. C., Packer, G., Tan, D., Crisco, J. J. T., & Wolfe, S. W. (2012). Midcarpal hemiarthroplasty for wrist arthritis: rationale and early results. Journal of wrist surgery, 1(1), 61–68. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1323644 (2012)
  • Crisco, J. J., Wilcox, B. J., Machan, J. T., McAllister, T. W., Duhaime, A.-C., Duma, S. M., … Greenwald, R. M. (2012). Magnitude of head impact exposures in individual collegiate football players. Journal of applied biomechanics, 28(2), 174–183. (2012)
  • Kamal, R. N., Rainbow, M. J., Akelman, E., & Crisco, J. J. (2012). In vivo triquetrum-hamate kinematics through a simulated hammering task wrist motion. The Journal of bone and joint surgery. American volume, 94(12), e851–857. doi:10.2106/JBJS.J.01644 (2012)
  • Brunner, A. M., Henn, C. M., Drewniak, E. I., Lesieur-Brooks, A., Machan, J., Crisco, J. J., & Ehrlich, M. G. (2012). High dietary fat and the development of osteoarthritis in a rabbit model. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 20(6), 584–592. doi:10.1016/j.joca.2012.02.007 (2012)
  • Rainbow, M. J., Crisco, J. J., Moore, D. C., Kamal, R. N., Laidlaw, D. H., Akelman, E., & Wolfe, S. W. (2012). Elongation of the dorsal carpal ligaments: a computational study of in vivo carpal kinematics. The Journal of hand surgery, 37(7), 1393–1399. doi:10.1016/j.jhsa.2012.04.025 (2012)
  • Daniels, A. H., Paller, D. J., Koruprolu, S., McDonnell, M., Palumbo, M. A., & Crisco, J. J. (2012). Dynamic biomechanical examination of the lumbar spine with implanted total disc replacement using a pendulum testing system. Spine, 37(23), E1438–1443. doi:10.1097/BRS.0b013e31826b39d7 (2012)
  • Drewniak, E. I., Jay, G. D., Fleming, B. C., Zhang, L., Warman, M. L., & Crisco, J. J. (2012). Cyclic loading increases friction and changes cartilage surface integrity in lubricin-mutant mouse knees. Arthritis and rheumatism, 64(2), 465–473. doi:10.1002/art.33337 (2012)
  • Greenwald, R. M., Chu, J. J., Beckwith, J. G., & Crisco, J. J. (2012). A proposed method to reduce underreporting of brain injury in sports. Clinical journal of sport medicine: official journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine, 22(2), 83–85. doi:10.1097/JSM.0b013e31824cc5d3 (2012)
  • Daniels, A. H., Paller, D. J., Feller, R. J., Thakur, N. A., Biercevicz, A. M., Palumbo, M. A., … Madom, I. A. (2012). Examination of cervical spine kinematics in complex, multiplanar motions after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion and total disc replacement. The International Journal of Spine Surgery, 6(1), 190–194. doi:10.1016/j.ijsp.2012.07.002 (2012)
  • Rowson, S., Duma, S. M., Beckwith, J. G., Chu, J. J., Greenwald, R. M., Crisco, J. J., … Maerlender, A. C. (2012). Rotational head kinematics in football impacts: an injury risk function for concussion. Annals of biomedical engineering, 40(1), 1–13. doi:10.1007/s10439-011-0392-4 (2012)
  • Crisco, J. J., Heard, W. M. R., Rich, R. R., Paller, D. J., & Wolfe, S. W. (2011). The mechanical axes of the wrist are oriented obliquely to the anatomical axes. The Journal of bone and joint surgery. American volume, 93(2), 169–177. doi:10.2106/JBJS.I.01222 (2011)
  • Crisco, J. J., & Greenwald, R. M. (2011). Let's get the head further out of the game: a proposal for reducing brain injuries in helmeted contact sports. Current sports medicine reports, 10(1), 7–9. doi:10.1249/JSR.0b013e318205e063 (2011)
  • Broglio, S. P., Swartz, E. E., Crisco, J. J., & Cantu, R. C. (2011). In vivo biomechanical measurements of a football player's C6 spine fracture. The New England journal of medicine, 365(3), 279–281. doi:10.1056/NEJMc1102689 (2011)
  • Crisco, J. J., Wilcox, B. J., Beckwith, J. G., Chu, J. J., Duhaime, A.-C., Rowson, S., … Greenwald, R. M. (2011). Head impact exposure in collegiate football players. Journal of Biomechanics, 44(15), 2673–2678. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2011.08.003 (2011)
  • Hoffman, E., Paller, D., Koruprolu, S., Drakos, M., Behrens, S. B., Crisco, J. J., & DiGiovanni, C. W. (2011). Accuracy of plain radiographs versus 3D analysis of ankle stress test. Foot & ankle international / American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society [and] Swiss Foot and Ankle Society, 32(10), 994–999. (2011)
  • Miranda, D. L., Schwartz, J. B., Loomis, A. C., Brainerd, E. L., Fleming, B. C., & Crisco, J. J. (2011). Static and Dynamic Error of a Biplanar Videoradiography System Using Marker-Based and Markerless Tracking Techniques. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 133(12), 121002. doi:10.1115/1.4005471 (2011)
  • Rohde, R. S., Crisco, J. J., & Wolfe, S. W. (2010). The advantage of throwing the first stone: how understanding the evolutionary demands of Homo sapiens is helping us understand carpal motion. The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 18(1), 51–58. (2010)
  • Crisco, J. J., Fiore, R., Beckwith, J. G., Chu, J. J., Brolinson, P. G., Duma, S., … Greenwald, R. M. (2010). Frequency and location of head impact exposures in individual collegiate football players. Journal of Athletic Training, 45(6), 549–559. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-45.6.549 (2010)
  • Miranda, D. L., Rainbow, M. J., Leventhal, E. L., Crisco, J. J., & Fleming, B. C. (2010). Automatic determination of anatomical coordinate systems for three-dimensional bone models of the isolated human knee. Journal of biomechanics, 43(8), 1623–1626. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2010.01.036 (2010)
  • Gwin, J. T., Chu, J. J., Diamond, S. G., Halstead, P. D., Crisco, J. J., & Greenwald, R. M. (2010). An investigation of the NOCSAE linear impactor test method based on in vivo measures of head impact acceleration in American football. Journal of biomechanical engineering, 132(1), 011006. doi:10.1115/1.4000249 (2010)
  • Leventhal, E. L., Moore, D. C., Akelman, E., Wolfe, S. W., & Crisco, J. J. (2010). Conformational changes in the carpus during finger trap distraction. The Journal of hand surgery, 35(2), 237–244. doi:10.1016/j.jhsa.2009.11.013 (2010)
  • Brainerd, E. L., Baier, D. B., Gatesy, S. M., Hedrick, T. L., Metzger, K. A., Gilbert, S. L., & Crisco, J. J. (2010). X-ray reconstruction of moving morphology (XROMM): precision, accuracy and applications in comparative biomechanics research. Journal of experimental zoology. Part A, Ecological genetics and physiology, 313(5), 262–279. doi:10.1002/jez.589 (2010)
  • Tompkins, M., Paller, D. J., Moore, D. C., Crisco, J. J., & Terek, R. M. (2013). Locking buttons increase fatigue life of locking plates in a segmental bone defect model. Clinical orthopaedics and related research, 471(3), 1039–1044. doi:10.1007/s11999-012-2664-1 (1999)
  • Halilaj, E., Rainbow, M. J., Got, C., Schwartz, J. B., Moore, D. C., Weiss, A.-P. C., … Crisco, J. J. (2013). In Vivo Kinematics of the Thumb Carpometacarpal Joint During Three Isometric Functional Tasks. Clinical orthopaedics and related research. doi:10.1007/s11999-013-3063-y (1999)