2 studies find video game tech accurate in patient motion capture

Researchers from the University of Missouri believe depth cameras from video game consoles could provide additional insight to physical therapists, clinicians and athletic trainers. Findings are published in Journal of Applied Biomechanics and Sports Health.

Current motion laboratories are a costly investment in analyzing how patients move, so researchers in these studies evaluated the feasibility of using the depth camera included in the Microsoft Kinect video game system to capture patient movements at a low-cost.

"In testing the system, we are seeing that it can provide reasonable measurement of hip and knee angles," said Trent Guess, associate professor of physical therapy and orthopedics at the University of Missouri. "This means that for only a few hundred dollars, this technology may be able to provide clinics and physical therapists with sufficient information on the lower limbs to assess functional movement."

In the studies, researchers evaluated participants' movement with the Kinect while doing vertical jumps and lateral leg raises. Participants also were measured using conventional motion-capture technology, which required markers to be placed on the skin, to compare results.

Results of both studies showed the Kinect gaming system to be accurate with 95.8 reliability.

"Assessment of movement is essential to evaluating injury risk, rehabilitative outcomes and sport performance," said Aaron Gray, a sports medicine physician with University of Missouri Health Care. "Our research team is working to bring motion analysis testing—which is expensive and time consuming—into orthopedics offices, physical therapy clinics and athletic facilities using inexpensive and portable technology. Our research has shown that depth camera sensors from video games provide a valid option for motion assessment."