Motion capture technology used to prevent falls in older people

Researchers from CAMERA are using Hollywood technology to assess the benefits of an exercise programme aimed at reducing the risk of falls in older people.

Volunteers in their seventies donned motion capture suits for the study to assess the effectiveness of an exercise programme. Christopher Hunt

Vicky Just, University of Bath Updated 2 March 2020

Dance and movement artist Ben Dunks worked with Dr Polly McGuigan at The Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Applications, CAMERA, the University of Bath’s motion analysis research centre to analyse how the range of movement of three volunteers changed during an exercise programme over a period of six weeks.

Ben took the participants through the dance exercises and their movements were recorded using the motion capture system.

The CAMERA studio team processed the motion capture data to create animations of the participants and Dr McGuigan took the data to calculate joint angles and ranges of motion to quantify the movement patterns to look at whether these changed over the course of the programme.

Participants also wore activity trackers to monitor how active they were outside the sessions and whether this changed over the course of the programme.

The researchers looked at how much time the participants balanced on one leg, the range of movements of various joints in the body, and how far they were able to reach in different directions whilst standing on one leg.

The motion capture data is analysed to record the range of movement of the joints of participants in the study. Christopher Hunt

Dr McGuigan, Deputy Head of the Department for Health at the University of Bath, said: “The premise behind the programme is that if people build their strength and are more able to push the boundaries of their movement in a safe and controlled space, such as an exercise class, they will be better able to use their body in the best way to prevent them from falling if they trip or slip.”

The collaborative project is part of the South West Creative Tech Network in partnership with the University of Plymouth and funded by Research England.

Ben Dunks explained: “In this project we worked with vulnerable older people living in sheltered accommodation in Plymouth to devise an exercise programme that aims to fundamentally change the health of participants as well as decreasing their chances of falling.

Volunteers in their seventies have donned motion capture suits for a study using Hollywood technology to assess the benefits of an exercise programme designed to reduce the risk of falls in older people.

“So much of the older population we work with feel that this issue of falls is one that is only recognised when you have already fallen. There is also a feeling that there isn’t a programme available to help their strength, as ours is a culture that believes older people can’t improve their physical skills and strength. But this programme has shown this simply isn’t true – even if you’re ninety, you can still build strength, learn new movements and learn new ideas about yourself.

“By doing our programme, our participants have gained in confidence and are demonstrating they are still valuable members of society.”

Gillian, from Plymouth, has been doing the exercise programme for 18 months and took part in the study. She said: “This project has been a joyful experience! I’ve gained more confidence in doing new sporty activities like ballet and tai chi, and increased confidence to help others that might be lonely or need help. “It’s also helped me to avoid falls on a few occasions when I’ve slipped or tripped.”

Dr McGuigan said: “Whilst motion capture has been used to evaluate fall prevention programmes for older people in previous studies, what made this project particularly interesting was that we were collecting data on improvised movements rather than asking them to do a very specific movement pattern. This made the project more challenging but much more relevant to the real world.

“We’re really encouraged by initial results and look forward to continue working with Ben to use this method in the future to assess similar exercise programmes.”

For more information about the Renaissance exercise programme, please email Ben Dunks.

Renaissance by Ben Dunks – SWCTN Immersion Prototype. Renaissance is an immersive falls prevention programme, designed for vulnerable older people living in Sheltered Accommodation and paid for by Housing Associations. At its heart is a movement programme that will be delivered by Housing Association Carers through an interactive platform. It is a programme that will fundamentally change the heath of all who experience it alongside decreasing their chances of falling. Posted Jul 19, 2019 Youtube.

Source University of Bath via EurekAlert! AAAS

  Further reading

A Review of the Evolution of Vision-Based Motion Analysis and the Integration of Advanced Computer Vision Methods Towards Developing a Markerless System, Colyer SL, Evans M, Cosker DP, Salo AIT. Sports Med Open. 2018 Jun 5;4(1):24. doi: 10.1186/s40798-018-0139-y. Review. Full text

Exploring the Role of Wearable Technology in Sport Kinematics and Kinetics: A Systematic Review, Adesida Y, Papi E, McGregor AH. Sensors (Basel). 2019 Apr 2;19(7). pii: E1597. doi: 10.3390/s19071597. Full text

Analyzing the Use of Accelerometers as a Method of Early Diagnosis of Alterations in Balance in Elderly People: A Systematic Review, Leirós-Rodríguez R, García-Soidán JL, Romo-Pérez V. Sensors (Basel). 2019 Sep 9;19(18). pii: E3883. doi: 10.3390/s19183883. Full text

Moving system with action sport cameras: 3D kinematics of the walking and running in a large volume, Bernardina GRD, Monnet T, Cerveri P, Silvatti AP. PLoS One. 2019 Nov 12;14(11):e0224182. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0224182. eCollection 2019. Full text

Exploring wearable sensors as an alternative to marker-based motion capture in the pitching delivery, Boddy KJ, Marsh JA, Caravan A, Lindley KE, Scheffey JO, O’Connell ME. PeerJ. 2019 Jan 24;7:e6365. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6365. eCollection 2019. Full text

Recent developments in bio-monitoring via advanced polymer nanocomposite-based wearable strain sensors, Lu Y, Biswas MC, Guo Z, Jeon JW, Wujcik EK. Biosens Bioelectron. 2019 Jan 1;123:167-177. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2018.08.037. Epub 2018 Aug 22. Review.

Accuracy of human motion capture systems for sport applications; state-of-the-art review, van der Kruk E, Reijne MM. Eur J Sport Sci. 2018 Jul;18(6):806-819. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2018.1463397. Epub 2018 May 9. Review.

The use of wearable devices for walking and running gait analysis outside of the lab: A systematic review, Benson LC, Clermont CA, Bošnjak E, Ferber R. Gait Posture. 2018 Jun;63:124-138. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2018.04.047. Epub 2018 May 1. Review.

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