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Acadia Motion Lab Helps Athletes, Even Adidas

Leading-edge research at a million-dollar motion lab at Acadia continues to make big strides by improving varsity athletic performance, reducing injury and/or increasing the speed of an athlete’s rehabilitation, and also improving the lives of anyone who suffers from injury and chronic illnesses affecting mobility and well-being.

Travis McDonough’s Kinduct Technologies platform, used by pro-athletes in just about every league throughout Canada and the United States, will also use the university’s lab on occasion for more detailed analysis for sport injury research.

“It’s great to see Nova Scotia at the forefront of the sport performance industry,” said Dr. Scott Landry, an associate professor of kinesiology at Acadia.

Landry supervises the research at the lab, which is located inside the university’s athletic complex and is equipped with motion capture technology similar to that used in animation and video games.

Adidas has also used Acadia’s facility several times to test the performance of its shoes, and Landry said the company is looking for a new project to collaborate with again, after Landry spent a recent sabbatical working at their sport research lab in Portland, Oregon.

“We’re always looking for partners and get funding to keep things moving,” said Landry, who initiated and built the John MacIntyre mLAB (Motion Laboratory of Applied Biomechanics) with the assistance of a Canada Foundation for Innovation grant and matching funds. It’s named in memory of a popular all-star soccer athlete at Acadia.

The lab features 19 motion-capture cameras recording thousands of frames per second, with wireless sensors measuring real-time muscle activation patterns in 3D to understand risk factors for injury.

Reflective markers placed around the athlete’s body measure the finer details of any movement in any sport, be it walking, running, or jumping and landing.

“A goal is to get a long-term study following children under the age of 10 to see how their muscular patterns and biomechanics change as they mature, to see if how they move might cause an injury down the road,” said Landry.

Some of the sensor technology is portable, so it can even go out onto ice surfaces or soccer fields and then be analyzed back in the lab.

Smaller motion labs in the province, such the Dynamics of Human Motion lab at Dalhousie, are mostly for knee and hip osteoarthritis diagnostics used in surgical and non-surgical treatments.

“Acadia doesn’t have a masters program in kinesiology yet, so we also allow students from Dal’s program who want to focus more on sport applications to research here,” said Landry.

Landry and Dal’s lab supervisor Dr. Janie Wilson are co-chairing the 20th biennial meeting for the Canadian Society for Biomechanics in August 2018 at the Westin in Halifax.

Landry said it’s the first time the meeting has been held on the East Coast since 2004 and is expected to draw at least 400 of the best engineers, kinesiologists, ergonomists, physicians, physical therapists and occupational therapists from across North America.

“All of whom are interested in applying the techniques of biomechanics to study human movement in health and disease,” he said.