The use of motion capture in the medical field is becoming more and more common, especially when it comes to issues related to movement. Clinics and research groups around the world are using the technology to help patients and test subjects lead better lives, but it requires sophisticated equipment and expertise, which means that each group currently using mocap tends to focus on one specialty. The Nove de Julho University (UNINOVE), however, is an exception. 

Located in SãoPaulo, Brazil, the Nove de Julho University is one of South America's  largest private higher education institutions. The school features five campuses and a dedicated research center, including the human movement analysis laboratory (NAPAM). The lab is currently working on a major project featuring a multidisciplinary approach, with three groups each using mocap technology to improve the lives of patients.

Prof. Paulo R.G. Lucareli, a full researcher and professor in Masters and Doctoral Programs in Rehabilitation Science at the Nove de Julho University, discussed the multidisciplinary approach to clinical research and the role Vicon played to make it a reality.

How long have you been using Vicon?

I’ve been a Vicon customer since 2001. Vicon helped me to start my career in gait analysis. I continued to use Vicon cameras and software as I expanded into other fields, including foot, upper limbs (scapula) and jaw movements.

I chose Vicon because of the quality of products and an excellent relationship with the Vicon support team.

Could you tell us a little about the project you are using Vicon on?

Using Vicon high-speed mocap cameras and Nexus software, the team specializes in clinical and investigative practices in movement analysis for musculoskeletal disorder, methods of application and analysis and clinical research. The focus of the research is on motion analysis, biomechanics, functional assessment and musculoskeletal disorders. The project began in 2013, with some of the results having been released as published papers, but patient care and research are ongoing. 

What were the main benefits of using Vicon?

Besides the quality of the cameras and software, having the ability to integrate and study several areas all related to rehabilitation.

The laboratory does not focus only in one area of knowledge, and we are integrating different professionals into the project. That allows us to provide assistance to many more patients. We have been able to make the analysis of movement apply to different areas of knowledge using the Vicon system.

What are the specific goals of the project?

The laboratory has three lines of research in full operation and constant development.

The first uses motion capture to record the kinematic model in order to evaluate jaw movement in patients with temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). That has led to a working model that is currently being used to test the effects of TMD.

The second focus is to create a model to quantify the movements of the scapula, upper limbs and trunk for patients with shoulder dysfunction. The model is currently being used to better understand the role of scapular dyskinesis and to evaluate the effect of load progression on muscle strengthening in patients with shoulder pain.  

The third and largest of the focuses involves the analysis of different clinical tests and different functional tasks of patients with patellofemoral pain. This project uses the associated plug-in gait and OFM models to quantify major clinical tests involving motor control and biomechanical changes in patients with patellofemoral pain, and is also being used to identify which functional task is most sensitive to differentiate patients from healthy women.  

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

The main challenges of the projects were to validate the models showing that they are reproducible, and that they can be used to identify the movement dysfunctions and to quantify the effects of the treatments offered to the patients. These challenges were solved with exhaustive reproducibility studies of the models.

What is the project’s timeline?

All projects started in 2013 and are in constant development. Some results have already been published, but patient care and researcher are ongoing.