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System Provides Real-Time Look At Human Muscle Movement

February 10, 2009

Dutch researchers have developed a digital imaging system they hope to use to shorten the rehabilitation period for people who have sustained an injury or suffered from a stroke.

Owned by Dutch firm Motek Medical, the system gives doctors and patients a real-time glimpse at the human body while highlighting muscle movement.

“Forces are invisible to the eye. HBM changes that and allows forces to become visible to the eye through color space changes in the muscle model representing the patient immersed in the system,” Motek explains on its Web site.

“Much like an X-ray system can show the bones in the body, HBM will be able to show the transference of forces in the body as they occur.”

“It’s like we’re stripping off the skin and helping the doctor to see more clearly than they have before,” said Michiel Westermann, chief executive of Motek.

The system uses infrared strobe lights and eight cameras to track muscle movement in patients while they wear reflective suits during exercise.

Dutch researchers said the system could help doctors analyze the conditions of their patients more effectively, which would also speed up rehabilitation time and get them back on their feet sooner.

Other applications of the system include: explorations of the muscle force interactions with spatial environments, better understanding of sensory inputs & motors in posture and motion, identification of “wasted” muscle force, and identification of muscle force related lower back pain complaints.

“Usually when patients are requested to activate a muscle, they will have a problem to understand which muscle, and the therapist will have a problem verifying the patient understood. With this they have immediate feedback,” said Westermann.

Westermann said the system is being tested in hospitals this year and should be ready for use by the beginning of 2010.

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