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Touch and Go

Computer science and biomechanics create a 3D-printed 'motion sculpture' to help athletes assess their performance and avoid injuries

12 November 2018

Touch and Go

Athletes work hard to tune their muscles to work efficiently. Yet technique is just as important as fitness to their overall performance. From sprinters to dancers, golfers to javelin throwers – a vital part of training is re-watching hours of their own events – looking for the slightest area for improvement. Here, computer science and biomechanics combine to turn a 2-dimensional video of a sprinter into a 3D-printed ‘motion sculpture’, tracing graceful movements between frames as red waves. Handling these objects may give sportsmen and women a fresh perspective on their own performance, but also help to prevent injury – avoiding habits that might eventually cause orthopaedic injury to muscles and bones. Medical professionals are also interested in applying the techniques to videos captured inside the body – printing sculptures of beating hearts, or bending spines to guide future surgery.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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