Sponsored By The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation

Skeletons: Top 10 Questions

October 2011

Thanks to Dr. Jeffrey Shilt, Director of Pediatric Orthopedics, St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center; Benjamin Davis, Microgravity Researcher, Boise State University; and Dr. Jeff Seegmiller, Assistant Profess for the answers.

1: How long does it take for a leg bone to be repaired?

For most of us it takes about six to eight weeks for bones to heal. It can take longer if it's a more complicated break (more pieces to the fracture or more bone pieces to heal), or for people who are older. (From Chloe in Mrs. Schweitzer's class at Riverside Elementary School in Boise)

2: Why do bones pop out of their sockets?

Usually it's because a person has experienced a force that is beyond the capabilities of their joint. When this happens, their bone pops out because it can't handle it anymore. (From Adam at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)

3: What is the strongest bone in the human body?

There's no specific answer to that question. It actually differs as you age and depends on how much stress is formed on each part of the body. Certain bones will bear a lot of weight or tension. Therefore a lot of bones are strong enough for the amount of work they are doing. Bones are dynamic, living and growing, so it all depends on each person's body and the particular work their bones are doing. (From Justice in Mrs. Hunt's class at Cynthia Mann Elementary School in Boise)

4: Why do we have marrow in our bones?

Bone marrow provides the source for all the cells in your body that go on and produce other tissues. It gives you all the important cells in your blood stream, and it also provides the basis for cells that help produce the tissues, all the musculoskeletal tissues that you have. It is very important. (From Cooper in Boise)

5: What is bone tissue made of?

It is the outer shell of the bone comprised of connective tissue. It provides the internal support of the body. It differs from bone marrow in that the marrow is in the center of the bone. (From Casey at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)

6: How do kids like me sprain their ankles?

When ankles get sprained, you end up hurting a ligament. Ligaments are what hold the bones together. When you land on something you are not expecting, you may roll the joint farther than it was expected to roll. This puts too much stress on the ligament and the ligament ends up getting hurt. (From Sydney at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)

7: Which bone in your body is the most important?

It all depends on what you like to do the most. Your skull and vertebral column are very important because they protect your central nervous system and allow you to do all of the complicated things you do. However, if you like to dance, you may be a big fan of the femur and the hip socket. If you are more interested in spelling bees, you would be appreciative of your skull for keeping your brain intact. Teeth are also very important, so as you can see, there are a lot of choices for which is the most important bone. (From Katherine in Mrs. Schweitzer's class at Riverside Elementary School in Boise)

8: How does the skull move?

The skull bones move very little. We call the joints on the skull, sutures, and they move a very small amount in response to trauma or to swelling in the brain. If you are referring to how your head moves in relation to the rest of your body, you need to look at the two bones that are closest to the skull at the top of the spinal chord. These bones allow for all of the movement that we are able to achieve. (From Gabe in Mrs. Hunt's class at Cynthia Mann Elementary School in Boise)

9: What is the smallest bone in the human body?

The smallest bone is the stapes, and it is located in the ear. (From Michael in Mrs. Boehne's class at McDonald Elementary School in Moscow)

10: How many bones are there in an average ten-year-old girl's body?

We have 206 bones. However, before we fully mature, some of those bones are actually in parts, held together by cartilage. Sometimes they may count as even more bones, so younger children may have more bones than adults. (From Chloe in Mrs.Boehne's class at McDonald Elementary School in Moscow)

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