Motion analysis lab is helping local athletes

A full body workout is being closely monitored. Doctors are now able to watch patients in action, in a very high-tech way while they're rowing, at Houston Methodist Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. It's through their state-of-the-art "motion analysis lab".  

Here, cameras are rolling, computers are analyzing, and experts are watching, to monitor all types of sports. They're finding out everything from how it affects joints, to how to prevent injury, and how to properly strengthen the body. 

Experts at Houston Methodist Orthopedics and Sports Medicine are studying rowing and its affects on the hip and spine.  It's one exercise that works all major muscle groups, challenging the upper and lower body at the same time.

"We have people who have all kinds of pain from rowing or get injured, then we look at their technique, their form.  With proper instruction and guidance, it can be a very good way to improve your cardiovascular fitness and strength and not only treat injuries, but prevent injuries," explains Dr. Joshua Harris.  He's an Orthopedic Surgeon, who specializes in sports medicine.

He explains how they pull-off the study, prepping the patient before the activity.

"The surface markers we stick on the skin are basically surrogates for the joint motions that are going on.  You can place them on the arms, legs, back, torso, and what they will do is be picked up by the cameras all around the room.  The cameras will sense that and the software will manipulate this to give you the stick figure diagram, which we'll then use an algorithm to determine what the range of motion is," says Dr. Harris. 

It's incredible to think that stick figures on a computer screen offer much more information about the joints than just watching the patient row in real time.

"This is a very sensitive and specific technique to look at what the joints are truly doing.  When we put these sensors on the patient, we're looking at what the joints are doing in all plains. All sports are 3D, so when you get x-rays and MRI's, those are 2D that don't give you the true picture of what is going on with an athlete when they play their sport or their activity," says Dr. Harris.  

This can help anyone figure out proper techniques, including professional athletes. 

"We've already started with soccer and baseball players. We can learn not only treatment of injuries, but if someone is recovering from surgery, ACL, or shoulder dislocation surgery, we can make sure their mechanics are optimized, to safely release them back to sports without restrictions or limitations," says Dr. Harris.         

The information, learned in this lab, can help athletes easily transition from rehabilitation to their sport or activity, plus take others who are healthy to perform at an even higher level.

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