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Western Colorado's Selective University

Research Projects

Biomechanics and Sports Science

The use of high-speed video helps biomechanists and sport scientists "see" what is actually happening during very high-speed movements. This type of technology can be used to freeze the moment of ball contact with a bat, the flight of an arrow as it leaves a bow, and the behavior of other body and sport object movements.

Thermal imaging is used by the Human Performance Research laboratory to identify areas of temperature differences. In the search for injury, sometimes even before the injury becomes overtly symptomatic, thermal imaging can identify inflammation as a co-factor of injury due to the coupling of inflammation with increased temperature. In this video, light is hot and dark is cold. Thus, the areas of potential inflammation and underlying injury show up as whiter than the surrounding tissue. It is a fairly simple matter to palpate (press on) each of the "hot areas" searching for reports of pain. In the video shown here, nearly all of the hot spots resulted in painful reports. This information is recorded as a computer image file and turned over to the medical team supporting the athlete.

The high-speed video shown here was taken at 500 frames or fields per second. The athlete was troubled by shin splints on the right leg. Observe the rate of movement and the result of foot impact on the shaking of lower leg musculature. Although subtle, the right foot contacts the medial (inside edge) of the rear foot before the left foot. This difference is more graphic in an accompanying video showing pressures on the soles of the feet. The Human Performance Research Lab uses this kind of information in gait analysis for walking and running. Shoe, orthotic, and technique can be changed in facilitate comfort and performance.

Tekscan refers to a technology that uses thin sole of the feet sensors. Each sensor has approximately 1000 pressure/force sensors that map the pressures of the impact of a step. If you watch the right foot, you'll notice that the inside of the foot receives higher and earlier forces than the left foot. This difference during a 1000 steps per mile can ultimately result in shin splints. This information is turned over to the medical team supporting this athlete in order to facilitate their work with this athlete.