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Research project: The development and validation of a kinematic model for the measurement of scapular kinematics

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Measuring movement of the shoulder, particularly the scapula (shoulder blade), is difficult due to its gliding nature beneath the surface of the skin. This project aims to develop a suitable method to overcome these problems using a sophisticated system for analyzing movement of the body. Reflective markers are attached to the participant and are tracked in 3-dimensions by infra-red motion capture cameras. Through the use of a mathematical model (kinematic model) it is possible to determine the movements of the scapula very precisely. This will potentially enable clinicians to assess and describe the abnormal movements of the scapula in patients with shoulder problems, such as pain and abnormal movement

To overcome the problem of the scapula gliding beneath the skin surface during measurement of scapular kinematics, various methods have been used including open Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), adopting a quasi-static approach of manually digitising scapular landmarks or using a scapular locator (SL) device.

These methods are limited by cost and, perhaps more crucially, not providing dynamic movement data. In order to measure dynamic movement, a method was developed where an electromagnetic sensor is attached to the flat portion of the acromion. The acromion provides a flat surface with which to attach a sensor, or marker set, which has the least amount of skin movement artefact compared to other sites on the scapula. This method, however, has rarely been used to track dynamic movement of the scapula when using a passive-marker based motion capture device.

Such devices are common relatively in research environments due to their widespread use for gait analysis. Before the acromion technique can be used with these types of motion capture devices, the validity of the measurement must be examined. Assessing the validity of the measurements involves comparing measurement to an alternative generally accepted measurement technique, in this case static measurements, and assessing the reliability of the measurements.

The project aims to assess these potential sources of error and determine how this may impact on the outcome measure used to describe scapular movement. Through development of the kinematic model, which defines the scapula, the project aims to reduce the potential errors and provide clinicians with an easily interpretable outcome measure which is both reliable and valid.

Project team

Stokes M, Chappell P, Humphrey V, Warner M (PhD student),

Project funder

Vicon (Oxford) Ltd

Associated research themes

Health Technologies
Motion Analysis
Shoulder movement

Related research groups

Active Living and Rehabilitation

Conferences and events associated with this project:

S Mottram, M Warner, P Chappell, D Morrissey, M Stokes (2009) Impaired control of scapular rotation during a clinical dissociation test in people with a history of shoulder pain. In, 3rd International Conference on Movement Dysfunction, Edinburgh, UK 30 Oct - 01 Nov 2009

M Warner, S Mottram, P Chappell, D Morrissey, M Stokes (2009) Use of a passive marker motion capture device for measuring scapular kinematics: a feasibility study. At XXII Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, Cape Town, South Africa 06 - 09 Jul 2009.

4th UK Shoulder Biomechanics Group meeting, Newcastle, UK 21st January 2010-07-13

8th Meeting of the International Shoulder Group, Minneapolis MN, USA 25th – 27th July

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