Human Biomechanics Research Laboratory

Biomechanics involves quantifying human movement and structure. Studies in the Human Biomechanics Research Laboratory focus on assessing joint angle, joint loads, muscle force, etc.

Our recent projects have investigated the effects of body shape and size on movement, risk factors for ACL injury in athletes, and balance.

Ergometer Studies

In these studies, we examined the effects of body shape and size on movement, i.e., the influence of body mass index (BMI) on movement dynamics and joint loading as a result of exercise equipment use. Specifically, we studied how the design of a rowing machine influences joint reactions and muscular effort, employing human multi-body system models.

The measurement techniques employed included mapping the movements of human subjects while rowing, capturing their joint angles by use of reflective markers attached to the subject. Cameras equipped with high-frequency strobe lights illuminated the markers, and the flash created by the strobes was recorded by the cameras.

These investigations could provide a foundation for the development of exercise equipment that is adaptable to meet the needs of people with a higher BMI. Follow-up studies are being finalized to determine whether it is weight or body shape that causes movement change and to test modifications to the ergometer.

ACL Studies

We studied varied maneuvers in Michigan Tech student-athletes, e.g., cutting, jump landing, and balance, with and without the presence of fatigue to search for trends indicating potential ACL injury. The long-term goal of this study is to track these athletes throughout their sports career at Tech to determine if ACL injury actually occurs and why. We are investigating parameters including joint angles and loading, as well as sway area.

Balance Studies

Our goal is to further basic research on balance. Studies have measured sway area/velocity to characterize balance and joint angles/loads to characterize movement. Current investigations focus on determining risk factors for falls and injuries associated with loss of balance, including

  • The influence of aging on static and dynamic balance;
  • The role vision plays in balance;
  • Foot sensitivity—whether everyday activities reduce foot sensation, leading to decreased balance in all age groups; and
  • Postural control—how diverse populations control their center of mass during a balance task.