Health Beat: Avatars helping athletes

Health Beat

BOSTON - When you think of an avatar, you think of the movies or video games, but now avatars are helping athletes play better than ever before.

Jake Murray has always dreamed of playing in the big leagues, but elbow pain threw him a curveball.

However, 3D biomechanical imaging is helping Murray, 19, develop a specialized training program that will help him pitch without pain.

"It gives us an ability to look at forces and torques, and position of the body," said Donna Moxley Scarborough, clinical and research director, Mass General Orthopaedics Sports Performance Center.

Each set of reflective markers is placed on Murray, and it creates accurate measures of speed and force across the joints of the body.

Twenty motion-capture cameras track the position of each marker, creating a 3D avatar. The 3D avatar is synchronized with two high-speed video cameras to provide an ultimate view of the athlete.

The 3D imaging lines up the real-time action from all angles at the same time.

"We noticed that he had some limitations in muscle length and some strength issues," Scarborough said.

Murray has changed some of his pitching mechanics as well as his workout program. Now, he's back in the game and ready to compete at the next level.

Researchers are also using this technology to help golfers get a stroke up.

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DOWNLOAD and VIEW the full-length interview with Donna Moxley Scarborough about avatars helping athletes

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