With a specialist background in injury prevention, Mr. Liebenberg has recently supported a research project for Cricket, specifically locating the load on lower backs and limbs as a means to prev
ent injury. Due to the repetitive movements of bowlers, strain can occur over time, but the added detail achieved via motion-capture on the field is opening up significant gains in performance optimization.
Extending his injury prevention research, Jacobus’ latest focus pin-pointed Paralympic athlete and Bronze medalist, Tyrone Pillay, analyzing his technique to enhance performance and prevent injury. Shot-put is a sport that relies on strength, short bursts of energy, and a conjunctive sequence of movements leading up to the throw. Motion capture can record the fluidity of the movements, with each one affecting performance in a unique way. Tracking Tyrone on the field allows for a personalized scope and analysis, as well as the ability to record in Tyrone’s training environment.
“Because Tyrone has a lower limb prosthetic, the dynamic and weight of it had to be considered. We aimed to discover how the prosthetic limb could be optimized for performance. Using Xsens, it’s possible to measure the strain on the limb and see if that design matches up with Tyrone’s performance. There aren’t many studies that look at prosthetics using motion capture in field conditions, but we believe this is a huge advancement.”
The Xsens data recorded on the field gave us specific new insights that were then passed on to the prosthetist and engineers. This information was then used to optimize the prosthetic leg for Tyrone’s unique use.
Real world application
One of the more exciting aspects of using motion capture outside of controlled conditions is the convergence of specific movements such as a singular technique and its correspondence to a fully-fledged event.
“A great example would be one hurdle versus a full race. We are able to measure the single movement, but in the field, we can see how that movement changes as the athlete runs through different stages of fatigue and psychological conditions (example, race vs training conditions).”
A goal of Jacobus’ team is to establish concrete parameters for disabled and abled athletes, with motion capture leading the research. However, the findings of the University of Witwatersrand are opening doors to breakthroughs outside of sport. In partnership with Natalie Benjamin-Damons, Jacobus has been looking at gait differences in HIV and non-HIV patients with neuropathy, with promising signs for the prevention of long-term injury.
“The goal is to identify the unique indicators and differences between each population, preventing injuries and consequently, improving their quality of life.”
The research conducted by the University of Witwatersrand is continuing to push boundaries, with inertial motion capture providing a greater body of data and ever-increasing list of opportunities.
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