Space Grant is and educational program sponsored by NASA to help prepare young engineers for the workforce. The Colorado chapter of the program is headquartered in Boulder with several affiliate institutions across the state, including UCCS. Here at UCCS the Space Grant group works closely with the MAE Biomechanics Lab in Osborne A301.

In the Biomechanics Lab, we are focused on developing a low cost video capture system and analysis tools for biomechanics sudies. Traditional video capture systems and force plates cost something on the order of $20,000 which is prohibitive for most medical clinics, athletic trainers, veterinarians, prostheticians, etc. This work aims to develop an accessible system that will help these service providers be more effective in 1) diagnosis and treatment of injuries or other medical issues and 2) athletic assessment of gait, running stride, swing, etc. Often these two areas are closely linked. The system can also be used by engineers to help design more effect prosthetics and other equipment.

UCCS students have developed the video capture system and all the supporting software from scratch. On the left is a frame from a Kodak Sport video, where MATLAB code has been used to track the blue and green markers on the subject. The circles around the markers show the estimate of the centroid of the marker from the in-house tracking software. The figure on the right compares the vertical ground reaction force (i.e. the normal force) that is computed from the video data (green line) and compares it to the force measure from a digital balance (red line). With a very inexpensive system we are able to accurately compute this force, and also the internal forces in the joints of the subject. Check out the movie!

Current activities in the lab include 1) improving the computational efficiency of the tracking software 2) developing more robust/accurate markers 3) synchronizing data from multiple cameras to get (sagital plane) marker positions for all joints and 4) developing in-sole pressure sensors to help with ground reaction force decompostion during the double leg stance.

One application of this work we plan to pursue is identifying pain centers in horses. We hope to develop a video capture system and associated equipment that can be used to calculate joint and muscle forces during equine locomotion. We also hope to develop relationships between these forces and injury mechanisms in the horse.

The previous Space Grant project was on a laboratory demo for a mechanical sling that could be stationed on a moon or asteroid and used as a space transportation system. Check out the results which we presented at the AIAA Space 2009 Conference

See Prof. Steve Tragesser in Osborne A429 (stragess@uccs.edu, 719-255-3353) for information on how you can get involved.