Three-Dimensional Motion Capture Technology Benefits Patients and Athletes


(Bangor, Maine) – Clinicians at Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) and researchers at the University of Maine (UMaine) are using motion capture technology to develop precise three-dimensional images of the human body for the benefit of patients and athletes. The technology, which is similar to what is used to track actors’ movements and create animated three-dimensional video in movies, allows doctors to assess a patient’s physical capabilities, better manage the risk of injury in seniors, and reduce sports injuries. 

EMMC’s Human Performance Lab is located at Cutler Health Center on the UMaine campus. Six cameras hanging from the ceiling follow light emitted by dozens of reflective markers placed on the body to create videos and images of the body’s every movement. The information gathered by the system can be reviewed in real time, recorded for later use, or put into a patient’s chart for analysis by healthcare providers. 

The work being done at the lab is applicable to several medical disciplines, including occupational medicine, sports medicine, orthopedics, and rehabilitation medicine. By carefully analyzing the body’s movement, providers can measure a patient’s range of motion before and after an injury, determine to what extent a patient regains normal capabilities post-surgery, and help athletes avoid incorrect body mechanics that can lead to injury.

According to W. Andrew Hodge, MD, EMMC chief of Orthopedic Surgery, the uses for the technology are practically limitless. “The technology has many different uses in orthopedics, rehabilitation medicine, sports medicine, and beyond. The work we’re doing in the Human Performance Lab is a unique synergy between engineering and medicine that will benefit our community and lead to greater understanding of the complexities of human movement. We look forward to exploring new ways to use this exciting technology.”

The Human Performance Lab is currently used for clinical research and sports medicine, and providers have used it to evaluate several patients. The technology will be rolled out to many different EMMC service lines this year.