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At the conclusion of this chapter, the student should be able to:

  • 1. Identify and discuss instrumentation for the collection and analysis of kinematic data in human movement.
  • 2. Identify and discuss instrumentation for the collection and analysis of kinetic data in human movement.
  • 3. Discuss the limitations of biomechanical instrumentation.
  • 4. Critically examine the research literature in the field of human movement with an understanding of the methodologies used.

The scholarly study of people in motion has interested scientists for centuries, and their contributions have established the foundation for the advances that continue to be made in kinesiology and biomechanics research in the twenty-first century. Methodology has progressed from exclusive dependence on observations by the naked eye to the use of sophisticated photographic and electronic equipment for analyzing and quantifying the anatomical and mechanical nature of human performance. Although the student in the undergraduate course in kinesiology is not expected to have much experience using some of the more sophisticated equipment and methodology, much of the technology used in movement analysis is readily available. Because of this increased availability of analysis technology and the increased interest in undergraduate research, the student should be aware of the available instrumentation and more advanced approaches to movement analysis.

There are two broad areas of study in the field of biomechanics: kinematics and kinetics. As noted in Chapter 10, kinematics is the description of motion without consideration of the forces involved. Kinematic variables include position, displacement, time, velocity, and acceleration—all of which are discussed in Chapter 11. Kinetics is the study of the forces that produce motion. Kinetic variables include force and torque, among others. Kinetic variables are the focus of Chapters 12 and 13. Information about each of these variables is gathered through the collection of data. There are three primary categories of biomechanical data collection. The first of these is motion capture data, which are valuable for the study of kinematics. Commercially available motion capture systems vary widely in complexity and cost. Motion capture may be based on video, electromagnetic systems, or electrogoniometry. In kinematic studies, measures of position and time are used to calculate the derivatives velocity and acceleration (Chapter 11). Kinematic data from motion capture systems may be linear or angular or both. The second primary category of data collection includes force measuring systems. Force measures are collected through the use of force transducers that convert pressure, stress, or energy to a digital signal. Finally, muscle activity is measured through the use of electromyography (EMG), as mentioned in Chapter 3. Electromyography measures the minute electrical signals generated by active muscle and can provide information on the contraction state of muscle.

Kinematic data, or data that describe a motion, are collected with a variety of instruments ranging from still cameras through high-speed film and video to sophisticated motion-tracking systems. The primary purpose of all such instrumentation is ...

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