Department of Exercise Sciences

New Technique for Studying Sports Injury

The Department of Exercise Sciences Biomechanics Laboratory conducts numerous research projects.

Biomechanics Laboratory Project

New technique for studying the etiology of sports injury. Yanxin Zhang.

Sports injuries cost the New Zealand taxpayer $69 million in 2006 (ACC) and the trend shows no sign of this number decreasing. These costs include those of treatment, rehabilitation, and injury prevention programs. Unfortunately, detailed etiologies of many sporting injuries are larger unknown because of the absence of a controlled testing environment at the time of injury. Quantification of the ligament strains and muscle forces is essential in understanding the injury mechanisms and it can provide information to establish injury prevention programs or clinical criteria for rehabilitation and treatment. Development of a technology that could be used in the field could provide the necessary information about the cause of injury that could then be implemented in injury prevention programs. Additionally, this much needed information could test the efficacy of existing treatment and rehabilitation programs as well as provide insight into the development of new ones.

Further developments in motion capture technology (vision-based human pose recognition system from markerless tracking of movement) and computational methods provide techniques to measure three dimensional human motions with high accuracy and perform simulations of complicated musculoskeletal systems. Many sporting events are already recorded with multiple camera views. We propose to use video records of on-field injuries and with the proposed vision-based human pose recognition method and musculoskeletal simulation to quantify soft tissue behaviour at the time of the injury.

The proposed research will consist of the following main components:

  1. development of a markerless tracking system that can create accurate body segmentation for the production of joint kinematic data
  2. development of a generic lower limb musculoskeletal model, which includes skeletal geometry of each bone in the lower limb represent the anthropometry human subject.

A flow chart is shown in the following figure:


This project aims at applying and deepening existing research in:

  1. biomechanical simulation
  2. vision-based pose tracking.

Both disciplines have reached a competitive level of depth at the participating groups in the departments of Exercise Sciences and Computer Science at The University of Auckland, and by combining efforts within the framework of this project, research in both areas would obtain new inspirations and possibilities to contribute on a wider, multi-disciplinary scale towards a solution which would be at top-level compared to international activities in those areas. The proposed research will provide information to estimate the injury potential of a certain type of movement or establish clinical criteria for rehabilitation. New interdisciplinary research plan in biometrics, biomechanics, and computer vision will be promoted by the developed research skills from this project.