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Published on May 07, 2013

Missouri Orthopaedic Institute Unveils New Motion-Sensor System

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Physical rehabilitation therapists at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute are using a new computerized motion-capture system, similar to technology used in Hollywood special effects, to analyze patients' injuries and help them recover.

The public is invited to an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, May 9, for a demonstration of the center's new DARI motion-sensor system. The event will be held at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute, 1100 Virginia Ave.

The DARI system, named for the company that designed it, the Dynamic Athletic Research Institute, uses 14 infrared cameras to acquire information from reference points of the human body, such as limbs and joints, as a patient moves. The system then analyzes the movement data for health care professionals to use in planning a patient's therapy treatment.

"I think many people are familiar with the motion-capture systems Hollywood uses," said Brett Hayes, a physical therapist and physical rehabilitation manager for the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute. "That process involves an individual suiting up in all black, with white balls attached to strategic areas of the suit so the computer can acquire life-like movement for animation or special effects. Although similar to what we now have, the Hollywood version is an extremely long process, and the results are not accurate enough for clinical use."

DARI is different because it not only offers a higher-level of accuracy that was designed for health care use, but it also does not require the tedious preparations necessary in past motion-capture devices.

"What used to take hours to prepare for with the special suits and data analysis now takes a fraction of that time," said Hayes. "There are no special suits, or hours of data analysis. A patient can walk into the lab wearing normal clothes and perform a few simple exercises. Then his physical therapist receives almost instantaneous data that he can use to guide the patient's treatment during the same appointment."

The DARI system works by gathering information about a patient's movement from its 14 infrared cameras, then feeding that information into a computer. A computer program then provides a three-dimensional map to the health care provider so he or she can identify areas of concern. The therapist uses that to determine what caused an injury or to predict the possibility of future injuries, as well as design corrective treatments.

"Using information based on a series of movement tests, such as running, squatting and jumping, we are able to compare how a patient functions with respect to extremely precise human movement data," said Hayes. "So we can now show a patient how he was injured and exactly how he has gotten better during rehabilitation by using pre- and post-care evaluations."         

"The DARI takes all the guess-work out because numbers don't lie and they don't guess," said Hayes. "Simply put, if the post-injury numbers don't match what we expect the pre-injury numbers to be, then the patient is not ready. At the point that the numbers do match we won't think the patient is ready, we will know it."

The Missouri Orthopaedic Institute is the first health care organization in the United States to acquire a DARI system.

"From a clinical and research standpoint, I am very excited that we have acquired the DARI system," said Hayes. "With this new technology we will be able to help evaluate a patient's ability to return to normal activity levels, assess effectiveness of treatment interventions and provide a way to measure functional progress."

The DARI system, named for the Dynamic Athletic Research Institute that designed it, uses 14 infrared cameras to acquire information from reference points of the human body, such as limbs and joints, as a patient moves. Physical rehabilitation therapists at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute use this new computerized motion-capture system, similar to technology used in Hollywood special effects, to analyze patients' injuries and help them recover.