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Imbalances found in all riders in study using motion-sensing suit

Data gathered from the motion-sensing suit can be used to create avatars of the riders and reveal their flaws in the saddle.

Data gathered from the motion-sensing suit can be used to create avatars of the riders and reveal their flaws in the saddle.

Innovative body suits used by movie makers and the video game industry could be a useful tool in helping horse riders improve their balance and posture, British researchers suggest.

A preliminary study involved 12 riders and found all participants showed some assymetry in the saddle.

The suits, which work with inertial motion sensors, could be used to help riders improve their balance and symmetry, and improve poor posture in the saddle, said Elizabeth Gandy, a senior lecturer in the University of Sunderland’s Department of Computing, Engineering and Technology.

Gandy said the Xsens MVN body suit was now showing promising results as a method of assessing rider asymmetry and lower back pain, as well as injury risk.

“Lower back pain affects around one-third of the UK adult population and studies have reported that some of the highest injury rates are to be found in equestrian sports,” she said.

“Despite this, limited scientific research has been carried out into the effects of asymmetry and poor posture on rider health.”

She said the use of motion sensors in a body-worn suit was an emerging technology, which provided a non-constraining alternative to video capture for motion analysis.

Elizabeth Gandy: "The technology could potentially provide a tool to meet the needs of riders and coaches."

Elizabeth Gandy: “The technology could potentially provide a tool to meet the needs of riders and coaches.”

To evaluate the potential of the technology for rider assessment, Gandy and her colleagues, in collaboration with research associates from the Saddle Research Trust, carried out a postural analysis of 12 riders wearing the motion capture suit.

Hip angle rotation was measured and software developed to customise the processing of the data for rider analysis.

Results revealed the presence of asymmetry in all of the 12 riders studied, with a difference of up to 27 degrees between left and right hip. Eighty-three percent showed greater external rotation of the right hip.

Gandy said the preliminary study showed the potential value of a motion sensor suit in providing an efficient and practical method of assessing riders across a range of movements.

“The technology could potentially provide a tool to meet the needs of riders and coaches, for assessment within training and competitive environments,” she said.

The MNV Biomech is a 3D human kinematic, camera-less measurement system, with integrated small tracking sensors placed on the joints, which can communicate wirelessly with a computer to capture every twist and turn οf the body. The resulting information can be displayed as an avatar and a 3D set of data on screen.

Biomechanics, sports science, nurse training, rehabilitation and ergonomics are just some of the areas the University of Sunderland’s researchers and students are now exploring since investing in the hi-tech suit in 2011, developed by Dutch company Xsens.

The suits were used to create the animated alien in the science-fiction movie, Paul.

The research by Gandy and her colleagues has been supported by funding from the university’s Faculty of Applied Sciences Digital Innovation research beacon.

The findings have been published in the Sports Technology journal. The study is titled, “A preliminary investigation of the use of inertial sensing technology for the measurement of hip rotation asymmetry in horse riders”.

A presentation on Gandy’s study will be given at the second Saddle Research Trust International Conference, in Cambridge this November.

Details and the full conference programme can be found here.

 

 

Horsetalk.co.nz

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Comments (2)

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  1. admin says:

    I would love to try this!

  2. Eliabeth Llewelyn says:

    I want one!

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