3D motion capture, you’ve heard of it. You get the gist, but is it right for your clinic? Can you use it to treat any patient that walks through the door? This is the first installment of a three-part series exploring how 3D motion analysis tools can be used to treat various patients.

As physical therapists, a major issue that we face is demonstrating that while a patient’s pain may be in a particular specific body area, a contributing biomechanical issue in a different body area may be driving or maintaining their problem.

In this post, we will demonstrate how motion capture technology can be used to perform complex clinical reasoning and engage patients in their rehabilitation.

Case Study – Jamie

Meet Jamie, a 26-year-old basketball player complaining of right shoulder pain, aggravated by over-head activity.

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She had been to two other physical therapists, and while there was some change in her symptoms, she found that her pain never completely went away.

3D motion capture highlighted left shoulder elevation and a right shoulder roll forward during standing posture and shoulder AROM. Her previous PT had identified this symmetry issue, and this confirmed their analysis.

What had not been picked up was that during an overhead squat exam (a key functional movement during basketball), her pelvis was rotating forward and hiking on the left. Using the 3D motion analysis system, her PT was able to highlight this key movement fault.

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These movement faults lead the therapist to investigate imbalance in Jamie’s glute strength as a possible cause of pelvic rotation. It was confirmed that she had significantly reduced glute weakness on the right side compared with left. Her PT postured that this pelvic rotation was being compensated for in her trunk and the lack of stability lower down was interfering with the functional mechanics at her shoulder.

The information gained from digital motion analysis led the PT to include the movement faults in her pelvis to her treatment plan. Voila! With this new and more holistic view of Jamie’s functional movement, she recovered fully and has been maintaining for the past 4 months without pain.

Now let’s take a look at the 5 ways that motion capture was able to help Jamie’s’ PT to assess and treat her shoulder pain.

#1 Identifying Movement Faults

Our markerless movement system automatically evaluates functional body motion in 3D. There are 3 key movement faults that our system analyses – AROM, instability, and functional asymmetry. With no post-production work required by the PT, the system identified 6 major movement faults across these categories in a couple of minutes.

The symmetry analysis identified pelvic rotation forward on the right, and a right-sided hip hike. During static postural analysis, the program identified a left shoulder hike and right shoulder roll forward. AROM results identified a restricted end of range right shoulder AROM. The stability analysis identified that she was compensating for reduced shoulder AROM with a right shoulder hike during over the overhead squat.

#2 Assessing Complex Cases

Clients love when you uncover and treat the root cause, as well as symptoms. Motion capture is a way to clearly and objectively show the patient which body areas are not functioning optimally and develop a tailored treatment program to suit their needs. Identifying and treating biomechanical faults in a remote body area can address important underlying contributing factors to the patient’s problem, and prevent recurrence. Your patients will love you for it!  

#3 Engaging Your Clients

One issue physical therapists face is getting the client on board with the idea that the area where they are experiencing pain may not be the only area that needs to be addressed.

Motion capture shows the clients an objective finding of what is going on with their specific biomechanics. When Jamie’s PT first mentioned to Jamie that her problem may not be primarily coming from the shoulder, she was understandably skeptical, but happy that they were taking a different approach.

#4 Staying The Course

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Motion analysis can be an important tool for patient retention. When Jamie saw her specific movement analyzed in an objective way, she could see a movement issue with her pelvis there despite there being no pain. Explaining to her that the rule that every action has an equal and opposite reaction applies to her body, and using the easy to understand results helped to get Jamie on board, speed up her recovery, and ultimately improve her movement efficiency.

Then, once she was able to see her movement charted over each session and visually see as well as feel the improvement, she became one of the clinic’s biggest advocates, recommending the clinic to her peers, friends, and colleagues.

 #5 Differentiate Your Clinic

Movement analysis can be the ‘secret sauce’ that distinguishes your clinic above the rest as a center for excellence and a place where people can find concrete answers to their movement problems. Getting patients better and keeping them healthy. Jamie was excited to see that her PT was able to treat her shoulder from a whole-body perspective, with concrete evidence of her problem and its’ resolution.

#6 Expand Your Prehab Options

Human motion analysis tools allow PT clinics to market themselves as experts in prehab and injury prevention. Shoulder and body preventative check-ups may flag inefficient and unsafe movement patterns, and prevent issues down the road.

Many physical therapists struggle to communicate to potential patients the important role of PT in preventing injuries. Motion capture technology allows patients to visually see their movement faults, often before they ever report a symptom. This objective representation of what they are needing to work on to prevent injuries captures patient’s attention and helps them to understand the importance of prehab.

Summary

In this post, we’ve looked at how 3D motion capture can be used with a patient complaining of shoulder pain. By using EuMotus AROM, stability and symmetry analysis, physical therapists are better empowered to identify their patients’ movement faults and tailor a program to suit their needs. The result of this is a more successful PT clinic, engaged staff and patients and a bodies moving as they should.

Considering integrating 3D motion capture into your clinic? Fill out the  form on the right of your screen or send us an email at hello@eumotus.com.

References 

[1] Photo by paul wallez on Unsplash

[2] EuMotus Hip Symmetry Measure

[3] Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash