One of my favorite parts of watching sports at home are the replays. You know, that heart-wrenching moment when an amazing play gets disputed or something happens so fast that we need to slow it down to completely understand what happened. The referees watch the play in slow motion and make a determination while the live commentators speculate and break down the play for us, second by second. Finally, after some tense moments, we are shown what happened in slow motion and depending on which side the ruling is for, it may be great news, a huge disappointment or the beginning of a heated argument between friends and family over the call.
Human motion has been studied for a long time now and the pattern of motion of our limbs during locomotion are called gaits.
Baptist Health South Florida is leveraging this same principle with a technology called video motion analysis to help their patients heal faster by analyzing the causes of their pain while they are performing the task that triggers it, it’s like that sports replay but the MVP is the patient. How cool is that?
Video motion analysis has been used in the sports world for improving and analyzing athlete’s performance. In fact, in the Olympics, you can see the coaches carefully reviewing the plays or moves in many sports where precision makes all the difference. In the case of a patient that has an injury, analyzing their performance in slow motion and even frame by frame allows the doctors to better understand and diagnose the factors that may be contributing to the injury or pain.
With a specialized software on a laptop and a couple of video cameras, doctors and physical therapists can view the video from different angles, can slow down the movement, play it frame by frame, apply imaging analysis techniques to trace motion and can identify the slightest difference that’s just not easily identifiable to the naked eye. The smallest details such as poor posture, a tendency to pronate when running or walking or even the slightest weight distribution or preference for one leg over another can make a difference. These advanced video motion tracking systems can measure body mechanics, muscle activity, step length, stride length, speed, cadence or the slightest inclination in the angle of the feet just to mention a few.
Conducting this type of analysis just a few years ago required a sophisticated lab with specialized sensors and even infrared cameras, today a similar result can be accomplished with a laptop, specialized software and a couple of off the shelf video cameras. This provides the advantage of not being tied up to the hospital or rehabilitation center and can be taken to a park or field to assess the cause of the issue in real world scenarios. The software even has a feature that can play back the video of the patient in motion superimposed to a computer model of what the ideal anatomical movement should look like, so that the doctor, therapist and the patient can sit down, replay the movement in slow motion and devise a game plan to correct it, just like they do with the Olympians.
This technology in the hands of the doctors and therapists at Doctor’s Hospital is a valuable tool that’s helping patients better understand and correct the gaits that may be contributing to their injuries or pain. Thanks to the advancements of these technologies, slow motion and biomechanical analysis is not only for top performing sports teams and Olympians any longer and can help you heal faster from your next injury.