Injury, disease, and recovery: Skeletal adaptations to immobility and impairment

Rebecca J. Gilmour, Liina Mansukoski, Sarah Schrader

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Bone responds to stress either through bone growth or bone loss. In this chapter, we investigate how bone biomechanical changes, including growth, loss, and asymmetry, can inform our understanding of pathological conditions, and, importantly, life after illness and injury. Through a detailed discussion of the clinical and animal evidence for disuse bone loss, we synthesise and report phases and features that bioarchaeologists can recognise in skeletal remains. We contextualise this discussion with examples representing the current state of bioarchaeological studies in this area. We end the chapter with a conversation about future directions for archaeologists interested in investigating functional consequences, adaptation, and recovery following pathological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBehaviour in our Bones
Subtitle of host publicationHow Human Behaviour Influences Skeletal Morphology
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9780128213834
ISBN (Print)9780128213841
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Adaptation
  • Amputation
  • Biomechanics
  • Bone loss
  • Directional asymmetry
  • Impairment
  • Infectious disease
  • Injury
  • Mechanical unloading
  • Recovery

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