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What Is Motion Analysis?

Motion analysis might focus on a baseball batter's swing.
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  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 31 July 2014
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Motion analysis is a process that films and documents sequences of images in order to study the movements presented in them. It typically uses a video camera to record a movement and computer software to store the recorded data for further analysis. Sometimes, a person or a model is required to wear a type of body suit or have some wires attached to different parts of the body to capture each movement more accurately.

Video cameras that are especially created for motion analysis work by “remembering” the still image in front of them. They can also be programmed to distinguish the main object apart from the background. In this way, when the object moves, both the camera and the computer software would know how to get rid of the unnecessary background image and isolate the moving object by itself. In many cases, several cameras are used and placed in different angles to get a more accurate feed, or to get a three-dimensional (3D) recording of the motion. The recorded motions are then merged by the software to make a 3D simulation of the movements.

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Many industries and fields of study use motion analysis to further knowledge and research. One is the sports industry, particularly for studying the human anatomy. Many sports and martial arts such as baseball, footballs, and judo have athletes who use their bodies in ways that a normal person could not. Through a motion capture analysis, each motion, such as throwing a baseball or doing a high kick, will be recorded and studied in order for athletes to improve their “game.” The analysis also provides doctors with data on how injuries start and how they can be treated better.

Hospitals and physical therapy centers also make use of motion analysis to improve their manner of treatment and diagnoses. Patients would undergo a series of tests that record all the movements of their muscles and joints. By studying the recorded video, physical therapists would know the primary cause of the injury, and surgeons would be able to decide on the best kind of operation. Through human motion analysis, doctors can give more accurate diagnosis, provide better post-surgery treatments, and cause fewer casualties and medical errors.

Manufacturing industries also use motion analysis to make sure all products conform to quality and safety standards. Vehicles like cars and motorcycles go through videotaped crash tests that would usually involve a crash test dummy inside the car. Engineers and designers would then examine the tape to see how the dummy will be affected by the car crash, thus estimating if the car is safe enough for humans to use. Motion analysis is also used in many types of sporting equipment such as baseball bats and tennis rackets to examine their strength, especially in high-impact motions, such as in hitting a ball.

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