The Karabots Junior Fellows at National Biomechanics Day 2018

A Drexel graduate student attaches a motion sensor to a student's arm during National Biomechanics Day 2018

National Biomechanics Day is a global initiative that aims to introduce high school students and teachers to the field of biomechanics. Celebrated on April 11, organizations all over the world take part in hands-on activities to demonstrate the concepts of biomechanics and its diverse applications. During this year’s program, the fifth cohort of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program traveled to the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences at Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions to learn the ways scientists are using biomechanics to assist in physical therapy and recovery.

Breaking into small groups, the students met with Drexel graduate students, who oversaw interactive activities using mechanical sensors and detection equipment to map the way human bodies move, valuable information when monitoring a patient’s recovery and identifying potential mobility issues. At one station, students made use of MOCAP equipment to map out leg movement. Short for “motion capture,” mocap involves using a system of sensors to digitally record a person’s movement; popularized in video game design, mocap has myriad practical applications, including in the field of physical therapy. At another station, the students donned special sensors on their arms to record and monitor arm movement while performing simple tasks, such as lifting small weights and push-ups. The final station sought to transform physical therapy into an interactive game (game-based learning is no stranger to the Karabots Junior Fellows Program). Graduate students utilized a Microsoft Xbox Kinect, a motion-capture sensor designed for specialized video games (although it also has been used for scientific and medical applications) to map a players physical movements in order to play the arcade classic Pac-Man.

A student in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program jumps as he plays Pac-Man using a motion-detecting sensor at National Biomechanics Day

By jumping, flexing, and moving around, our students learned the different exciting ways biomechanics can be used to help patients recover from trauma and strengthen their mobility. We are thankful to Clare Milner, PhD, FACSM, Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University, and the rest of her time for an exciting event.

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