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.
The 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.