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Open-Source Software in Biomedical Education: From Tracking to Modeling Movements

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Research in Biomedical Pedagogy

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.956.1 - 24.956.10



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Paper Authors

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Jennifer Rae Papich

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Christian James Kennett Gannon University


Davide Piovesan Gannon University

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Davide Piovesan received his M.S.M.E. in 2003 and D.Eng. in mechanical measurement in 2007 from the University of Padova, Italy. His dissertation presented a set of experimental and analytical validation techniques for human upper-limb models. From 2004 to 2008 he was a visiting scholar and postdoctoral fellow at the Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Lab at Brandeis University under the supervision of professors Paul DiZio and James R. Lackner. There, he worked on the mechanics of movement adaptation in non-inertial environments as part of a NASA extramural funding program. He joined Northwestern University in 2008, working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago under the supervision of Prof. Ferdinando (Sandro) Mussa-Ivaldi. Davide is currently an assistant professor in the mechanical engineering department at Gannon University and director of the biomedical engineering program. His main interest is to gain insights on the role of biomechanics in the neural control of movements, with applications to rehabilitation engineering.

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Open-source software in Biomedical Education: from tracking to modeling movementsMovement analysis is one of the most important topics in biomechanics especially when gearedtoward identifying sport specific movements or specific impairments after injuries orneuromuscular diseases. Unfortunately, the acquisition of a commercial motion captureapparatus is quite expensive, and prohibitive for many small educational enterprises. We developa session of the bioengineering laboratory course dedicated to motion capture and modeling ofhygienic movements using simple low-cost digital cameras and a suite of open-source free-waresoftware. This solution provides all the technical aspects of motion capture practice allowing fora full “hands-on” experience without investing in expansive equipment. We here present theacquisition and analysis of two hygienic movements such as combing and feeding oneself.Two digital camcorders were positioned at 45º to the sagittal and frontal plane, making sure thatthe focal distance and the field of view with a common reference point was the same. We chose adistance of 1.5m between subject and camera as a compromise between spatial resolution andvisual prospective distortions. Both videos were synchronized and processed with open-sourcevideo-editing and motion-tracking software. Even though the system could be marker-less, wedesign our instrumental setup using fluorescent, spherical markers to enhance the contrast ofbony landmarks in the movies.The data acquired was used to model the movement in an open-source multi-body simulationsoftware which allowed for the calculation of joint angles and muscles’ forces during themovements.The motives to use open-source software go beyond the economical aspect and promote a deeperunderstanding of the technical procedure, encouraging cooperative-learning and the respect ofsoftware license.

Papich, J. R., & Kennett, C. J., & Piovesan, D. (2014, June), Open-Source Software in Biomedical Education: From Tracking to Modeling Movements Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22889

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