Each year, millions of people are treated in emergency departments because of injury and fractures from falls (most often because of a broken hip or head injury). In combination with aging populations and osteoporosis, this is growing to be a major healthcare problem and drive massive costs to society. As examples:
Hip fractures are among the 20 most expensive medical conditions, and e.g. in UK total hospital costs of new hip fractures in is estimated to be £1.1 billion / year.
In US alone, more than 300000 suffer from incidents of hip fractures every year, causing individual suffering and pain.
Work on how to improve the healing process and reduce risk of relapse for senior patients recovering from hip and femur fractures, is one of many areas where Lund University Hospital is in the research forefront. One approach is to use very targeted and refined movement exercises (as defined in the “Balance Enhancement Exercise Program”), which helps to build balance and strength in the injured areas. To measure the effect of the program, e.g. sophisticated ultrasonic 3D positioning methods with markers are typically used. While this gives very accurate and high quality results, the problem however is that it is not something easily accessible for the patient. It has to monitored and operated by a professional physiotherapist or technician.
By instead using advanced computer vision and typically a standard iPad/tablet, Spiideo in close collaborating with Lund University Hospital is now creating a more accessible and easy to use solution, that would allow the patients themselves to perform the excersises and measuring (tracking and comparing postures, movements etc.). This gives better support for continuous data collection, which allows for much more efficient measuring of changes over time.
Needless to say, this type of approach to follow up repeated targeted exercises for building a specific strength, balance, posture set up etc., with continuous adjustments based on the measured result, is applicable in a wide range of areas. Sports is one of them, where a fundamental component for excellence is to be able to perform repeated execution of precise, effortless and effective movement patterns requiring a combination of perceptual and motor skills. In addition, many sports requires at least a basic understanding of biomechanics, the forces involved, center of gravity etc.
So, while this project mainly strives to address some of the healthcare challenges of an aging population, it is also an exciting journey to understand what new exciting possibilities this type of research can and will provide back to the sports community.