With the support of the ISB travel grant, I travelled from Brisbane, Australia to present at the American Society of Biomechanics conference (Raleigh, USA) and then visited the Human Mobility Research Centre at Queens University, Canada to learn an innovative new method to investigate foot biomechanics.
Understanding the biomechanical function of the foot is difficult due to its complex structure. Currently, traditional motion capture is commonly used to describe the motion of multiple segments of the foot (Leardini et al., 2007). However even this level of detail is an over simplification of the actual joint rotations that occur within the foot. These estimates also suffer from poor fidelity of skin movement to underlying bone motion. Recent developments in 3D X-ray motion analysis allows non-invasive investigation of skeletal motion during dynamic activities such as locomotion (Astley and Roberts, 2012). The Human Mobility Research Centre at Queens University is setting up a laboratory using these novel videoradiography techniques. With the help of Assoc. Prof Rainbow, I was able to analysis data collected using these imaging techniques to gain a better understanding of the movement of the calcaneus and talus in the foot.
The visit was highly beneficial. I gained a lot of valuable skills including including segmenting bones from CT scans, creating partial volumes and surface areas of the segmented bones and subsequently tracking bones in high speed x-ray scans taken during walking. During the visit I also learnt how to fit objects to the articular surface of bones to create accurate anatomical coordinate systems and consequently calculate precise rotations between segments. To achieve these tasks, with my clinical background required a lot of upskilling in basic mechanical and mathematical concepts, knowledge that I believe will be invaluable as I continue to understand the mechanics of the foot after completion of my dissertation.
During my stay I also attended and presented at the American Society of Biomechanics Conference. I presented a study from my PhD thesis for the first time in a thematic poster session, which involved a short oral presentation followed by 10 minutes of group discussions. It was great presenting in this session, my research created some great discussion between several well renowned researchers in our field. The discussion led me to explore areas in my analysis I had not previously considered. During the conference I was mentored by A/Prof Greg Sawicki, who gave some great advice and encouraged me to be creative with research ideas. His suggestions and questions were thought provoking and invaluable.
I would like to thank the ISB for the travel grant and Assoc. Prof Rainbow and his lab for hosting and assisting me during my visit.
University of Queensland