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Articular cartilage is the smooth thin layer at the ends of bones in joints that enables near frictionless and pain free movement. The structure of cartilage enables it to bear high loads. Cartilage contains 70% water, attracted by the negatively charged proteoglycan matrix, which results in a swelling pressure. This swelling pressure is balanced by stretching of the dense and stiff collagen fiber network. As there is no blood supply, any cartilage damage is rarely repaired. The type of damage central in this thesis is a full-thickness focal cartilage defect, which is a localized area of cartilage damage. They are common, cause pain, and generally progress towards osteoarthritis, degeneration of the joint. The SyCaP project within the framework of Chemelot InSciTe is developing a novel synthetic resurfacing implant to treat focal cartilage defects and prevent the accumulation of damage. This is a promising alternative to a total knee arthroplasty. The aim of this thesis is to support the development of the SyCaP implant by predicting the mechanical response of articular cartilage to the presence of such an implant.

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