Postgraduate Profiles

Denny Wells

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Thesis: Modelling the Upper Limb: An Investigation into Current and Potential Modelling Practices

There exist many different methods for modelling the body. The lower limb is widely researched and documented, however the upper limb - due to increased complexity amongst a number of other reasons - has not been investigated as extensively.

I aim to add to the existing upper limb modelling knowledge through a series of research projects:

1) Comparing two common modelling methods: two common direct kinematic methods will be compared to establish within subject differences and inter-session repeatability. Both methods rely on kinematic marker data but utilise that data for different purposes: one has pairs of markers placed either side of joint centres; the other uses clusters of markers to create technical co-ordinate systems, theoretically combating soft tissue movement around joints. Of the methods currently used for calculating kinematics of the upper limb, what are the differences between them and how repeatable are they between different sessions?

2) Compare two marker-based kinematic analyses: direct kinematics is the current gold standard for calculating kinematics from marker data. Another option is inverse kinematics, which has several features which make it potentially more appropriate for modelling the human body. It has not been extensively used in upper limb analyses and very little validity data exists on its use in the upper limb. Can inverse kinematics offer an alternative to direct kinematics that addresses several identified shortfalls of the latter's methodology.

3) Investigate alternative technologies in their potential to measure upper limb kinematics: inertial and magnetic sensors offer a relatively inexpensive alternative to marker based systems. Commercial sensor systems are now available but their accuracy and ability to define human kinematics is scientifically unproven - especially during high velocity sporting movements. Could magnetic and inertial sensors provide an inexpensive, more widely available and easier to use alternative to marker-based motion tracking systems?

Why my research is important

To expand our current knowledge of upper limb modelling techniques and expanding the reaches of such technology to a wider community.


Feb 2012

Feb 2015