Project Description

The biomechanics and mechanisms of overuse musculoskeletal injuries experienced by runners have been investigated for over 40 years but the risk of developing these injuries remains high. The chance of experiencing a running related injury is like flipping a coin - approximately 50% of runners will experience at least one injury per year. Many running gait (i.e. form) and running training risk factors for running injuries have been investigated, including running mileage, skeletal malalignment, and the loading to the body that occurs every time the foot makes contact with the ground. Cumulative loading - the total amount of loading that occurs over a single bout, a week, or lifetime of running - has become a new focus for biomechanics researchers investigating the mechanisms of running injuries. Previous studies have quantified that running more than 20-40 miles per week may significantly contribute to the development of an overuse running injury. However, running experience may play an important role in the threshold of running volume that causes a running injury. Preliminary data from the IU Biomechanics Laboratory suggests that lifetime physical activity history and current running training load may explain why novice runners experience an increased rate of injuries than more experienced runners. A long history of being physically active may protect an individual from experiencing a future injury because their tissues have adapted to handle greater loads than those who have not been physically active in their lifetime. However, not integrating appropriate rest periods within current training programs may lead to tissue degradation and injury due to cumulative micro-damage. The IU Biomechanics Laboratory is currently conducting several studies in this area of research which include in-lab measurement of gait using 3D-Motion Capture and out-of-the-lab measurements using wearable technology devices (activity monitors, foot pods, GPS, and inertial measurement units or "IMU's"). Your role as a CeWIT-REU research assistant will be to assist with collecting and analyzing data captured from these sources.

Technology or Computational Component

The student mentee will assist with three-dimensional motion capture and wearable device data collection and processing. The three-dimensional motion capture system in the biomechanics laboratory is the same technology used to put real people into video games and put characters into movies like Groot and Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy. The student mentee would also assist in using software programs to build models of the human body based on the participants measured in the lab as well as examining the data collected by training logs and the data obtained wearable devices. These technologies are essential for anyone wishing to pursue careers in clinical gait and movement analysis, biomedical engineering, ergonomics, sports equipment and design, sports performance, motor vehicle safety and many other fields within biomechanics.