Digital avatars helping athletes perform better

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by KING 5 HealthLink

KREM.com

Posted on December 2, 2013 at 10:29 AM

When you think of an avatar, you probably think of the movies or video games.

But now, they've taken on a different meaning. Avatars are helping athletes play better than ever before.

Jake Murray has always dreamed of playing in the big leagues. But elbow pain threw him a curveball. \

Now 3D biomechanical imaging is helping Jake develop a training program that will help him pitch without pain.

"It gives us an ability to look at forces and torques, and position of the body," said Donna Moxley Scarborough, Clinical and Research Director at the Massachusetts General Orthopedics Sports Performance Center.

Each set of reflective markers placed on patients like Jake create measures of speed and force across the joints of the body. Twenty motion capture cameras track the position of each marker, creating a 3D avatar.

The avatar is synced with two high-speed video cameras to provide an ultimate view of the athlete. The 3D imaging lines up the action from all angles at the same time, making it easier for trainers to help players like Jake.

"We noticed that he had some limitations in muscle length and some strength issues," Scarborough said. 

That lead Jake to change some of his pitching mechanics, as well as his workout program. Now, he's back in the game and ready to compete at the next level.

Researchers are also using this technology to help golfers get a stroke up, and for runners to improve their form.

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