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Acadia gets funds for human motion lab


Dr. Scott Landry attaches reflectors to Acadia student-athlete Rebecca Slaunwhite’s knee that could be used by a motion capture camera to create a digital model of her movements.

By Jennifer Hoegg

Why do female athletes suffer more knee injuries? That’s one of several questions Acadia’s planned human motion laboratory could help answer.

Dr. Scott Landry, an assistant professor in the university’s kinesiology department, is spearheading the project, which will use similar technology to digital animation studios.

The biomechanics specialist had access to a similar lab at Dalhousie during his graduate research and creating one has been a dream since he returned to Acadia to teach in 2008.

Autism, aging, arthritis, asthma, athletic performance, injury prevention are among the subjects that could be looked at in a facility that promises interdisciplinary research possibilities.

Its work will go beyond the walls of Acadia, Landry said. The program will reach into the community through collaboration with medical providers and through SMILE and Acadia Active Ageing programs.

“I’m excited to be able to work with the community, with the Valley Regional Hospital, and with physiotherapy clinics in the area,” he said.

Acadia’s athletics programs, which Landry is involved in through the women’s varsity soccer program, will also benefit.

“With the importance of wellness and motion to our athletics programming – from community health outreach to extracurricular activities and our varsity athletics teams – having this laboratory in our complex will benefit the entire Acadia community,” athletics director Kevin Dickie said in a release.

“The driving force (of the project) is to keep people as active as possible,” Landry pointed out. 

He is involved with long-term Dalhousie studies on arthritis, measuring mechanical and neuromuscular changes and how to keep patients active longer.  “We’re trying to understand the disease process,” he said.

Landry has worked with the medical field and with commercial applications of research in the shoe industry. He is collaborating on research in obesity in females and higher prevalence of knee issues.

“What I really want go after is the sex bias in knee injuries,” said Landry, pointing out female athletes have a rate of ACL injury two to four times higher than their male counterparts.  

Why this occurs and what can be done about it are among his research questions. What is known is osteoarthritis and ACL injuries cost the health-care system billions of dollars.

“I’m interested in working with organizations likes Valley soccer and basketball and following kids as they grow up,” he said. “The goal is to help improve prevention programs that are currently out there.”

In addition to Landry’s work, two other professors already have uses for lab. Dr. Shilpa Dogra plans to conduct physiology research in the areas of cardiovascular disease, asthma and older adults. Dr. Roxanne Seaman, who runs Acadia’s S.M.I.L.E. program, plans to use the lab to help autistic children, among other projects.

“Her interests is in working with children and helping them improve their fundamental movement skills,” Landry said.

“Analysis from computer programming and mathematical side,” will be part of the lab’s work, he said, adding he hopes to “connect with other departments like computer science, biology, engineering and physics.”

Lab design

Acadia’s human motion laboratory, expected to be ready by the summer of 2013, will be located in the basement of the athletics complex. 

Landry describes the future, fully accessible lab as a large, open space with 10 to 12 infrared cameras, capturing hundreds of frames per seconds. The motion capture cameras are used in digital animation by picking up reflective sensors and transmitting “precise information on where limbs are in space.”

“There will be a series of computers along the walls collecting data,” he said, which “can be in the gigabyte range for one subject.”

Special in-floor sensors will be used to measure force in three-dimensional space – helpful in learning how joints and muscles move when subjects are running, jumping and walking. Other sensors for tracking muscular movements and tools like in-shoe sensors to pick up tiny movements will be available.

Part of the project will include creating experiments to replicate how athletes move in a game situation, complete with split-second decision-making.


The following are the funding partners of the Human Motion Laboratory

$322,291    Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Leadership Opportunity Fund

$322,291    Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust

$100,000    Private donation

$6,000        Acadia Kinesiology Society

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