Biomechanics Laboratory

The biomechanics laboratory Joel Lanovaz established in the College of Kinesiology uses technology to apply mechanical principles to biological systems in a variety of innovative studies. 

Biomech LabIt starts with a motion capture system. Small reflective plastic spheres attached to the subject’s body are picked up by special cameras equipped with LED lights. Because all the cameras see are the glowing white dots, they pick up the movement in three dimensions (3D). This allows for the observation and study of motion patterns.

Other equipment can be used in conjunction with the motion capture system that measures force and its impact on the body – also in 3D – and electromyography (the electrical impulses inside your muscles).

“We can collect all the data at the same time,” said Lanovaz of the integrated equipment systems. “From that we get a pretty good picture of what’s going on.”

An engineer by trade, Lanovaz was drawn to “the application of engineering principles to movement. It works much better when you have people from different disciplines working together.”

The range of studies that have utilized the lab are multi-disciplined and varied. For example, one current study is comparing movements with the Wii tennis game to real life tennis. Lanovaz explained that because the Wii controller is so different in weight and shape than the real tennis racket, it takes extra force to stop the movement, and this can cause muscle and tendon pain.

Funding Lanovaz received from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) has allowed him to begin a study of osteoarthritis in the knee in women aged 35 to 45. Women have a higher incidence of this disease than men, and Lanovaz plans to see how body types affect the mechanics of the knee. Ultimately, Lanovaz wants to look at orthopaedics and the biomechanics before and after knee replacements. 

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