Monday, 28 August 2017 11:42

Project uses motion capture to study cellists' injuries

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A research project has used motion capture to look at the movement patterns of elite cellists with the aim of gathering data to help in prevention and rehabilitation of injuries.

The project is a joint effort by the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, the University of Western Australia and the University of Sydney.

It builds on previous investigation by WAAPA post-doctoral research fellow Dr Luke Hopper who used motion capture technology to study dance.

“Dancers tend to get injured from the bottom up. However cellists are the opposite because most cello playing injuries occur in the upper half of the body,” Dr Hopper said. 

“Cellists tend to suffer from forearm, shoulder, elbow and lower back injuries, which are predominantly caused by overuse because they spend huge amounts of time rehearsing, practising and performing.”

cellistThe research paper on the subject appeared in Medical Problems of Performing Artists with the co-authors being Clifton Chan, Suzanne Wijsman, Timothy Ackland, Peter Visentin and Jacqueline Alderson.

Dr Hopper said the motion capture system worked by placing dots on the cellist and creating a virtual skeleton. This could be used to measure the range of movements while playing. 

“We looked at the normal movements a cellist would use when they are in good health, so if they do become injured clinicians have a baseline to work towards,” he said. 

A total of 31 Western Australian cellists with an average experience of 19 years participated in the study. They played a C major scale, at two volumes – soft and loud.

“Performing artists often don’t know how to manage an injury or they might try to hide it," Dr Hopper said. “There’s a bit of a stigma that if you can’t perform you’ve somehow failed, but a lot of injuries are preventable if they’re addressed at an early stage.”

Picture above right shows Dr Luke Hopper, WAAPA classical music student Miranda Murray-Yong and Associate Professor Suzanne Wijsman of the University of Western Australia. Courtesy WAAPA.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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