EDC workshop at the ISB2013 congress in Brazil

Posted on September 27, 2013

A participatory approach to promoting biomechanics in Economically Developing Countries (EDCs)

In order to identify, address, and ultimately overcome the challenges in expanding biomechanics in EDCs, we invited ISB members who were currently or had been previously engaged in biomechanics work in developing countries to participate in an ISB-EDC Workshop during the ISB2013 Congress. By cooperatively developing capacity-building strategies, we hoped to find new opportunities to support our EDC members in their research and teaching related endeavors, and ultimately increase the impact of the ISB-EDC Program. Of the 37 ISB members who were invited to attend, eleven were able to participate in the morning event.

The time available for the workshop – 3 ½ hours – was limited considering what we wanted to achieve with participants from all over the world, many of whom had never met one another before. I felt confidant that we would realize our specific goals for the workshop, however, since these individuals has previously demonstrated their dedication to the ISB and to the promotion of biomechanics in EDCs.

pagesI began developing ideas for the workshop a year in advance together with the EDC Committee. A month before the ISB congress, I asked those taking part to outline specific issues on which they wanted to focus during the session. Four central themes emerged from these suggestions: insufficient biomechanical skills and knowledge in EDCs, the shortage of resources, a lack of awareness both in developed and developing countries about the issues, and government policy affecting the ability to develop biomechanics programs.

Our workshop was designed to create an environment in which participants could converse openly about matters concerning specific projects and the ISB’s involvement, identifying both challenges and opportunities for EDC biomechanics.  Individuals were encouraged to conceptualize future breakthroughs in biomechanics development, which then enabled them to pinpoint promising initiatives that could contribute to this vision. Idea generation techniques such as SCAMPER (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Reverse) were used to evaluate and refine potential proposals while incorporating contingency plans to avert possible risks.

During several of these activities, discussion among group members became quite animated; they had come up with innovations that seemed truly feasible in terms of their implementation and potential for success. Some of these promising initiatives included:

  • Regional networking through open educational courses to accompany equipment donations.
  • Practical, applied short courses or internships (in addition to graduate courses) designed to educate and prepare students for research or specific projects.
  • Web-accessible education with the ultimate goal of a “virtual university” with globally recognized qualifications.
  • A virtual lab with a centralized database that could be accessed even by those who have no physical lab space of their own.

Towards the end of the session we were able to prioritize tasks according to importance and degree of difficulty after which participants committed their support towards specific projects of interest to them personally. Individual contributions towards future EDC initiatives converged upon accessible education and strengthening regional networks.

As workshop designer and facilitator I was thrilled to hear not only the enterprising ideas emerging from group members’ conversations, but also the enthusiasm with which they were being discussed. A number of positive comments were made after the workshop, including that “great ideas had surfaced which we don’t want to lose” and that participants felt a shared sense of community. These accomplishments in a relatively short period of time made me feel the workshop was a success and that we had made significant progress with the development of our EDC program. It was inspiring to then attend the EDC Meet & Greet luncheon open to all ISB members to tell them about our evolving program and introduce many of its contributors. I look forward to continuing our work with this dedicated group in the aims of achieving our long-term vision to promote biomechanics in EDCs.

A participant’s perspective on the ISB-EDC workshop

I was very happy when I received the invitation to join the EDC workshop during the ISB Conference in Natal, Brazil. I know that support to EDC regions can change people and the places where these people are working. The support of ISB for EDC regions makes the society very different from others where these opportunities do not exist. The activities in the workshop were a great opportunity to share ideas, problems and possible ways to overcome difficulties when working in EDC regions. In particular for me, to participate was very important to meet people from the ISB council and colleagues from others universities (including from Latin America) that I did not know before. I am looking forward to keep in touch with these colleagues and think together about possibilities to develop the area as well as to create a network of biomechanics in Latin America. The students of our group are also very motivated to share experiences with other students as well to organize small workshops, summer and winter schools to bring Latin American students and professors together to discuss and develop biomechanics in the EDC regions. Together with my students, I am trying to make a first step towards the dissemination of biomechanics in Latin America. Once a month we run a web-based seminar where researchers are invited to talk while online people can join the conference using the Internet. For now most of the lectures are in Portuguese, but we are organizing to have international speakers in 2014 and therefore provide a chance to non-Portuguese speakers to participate in the lectures. I would like to thank ISB for the invitation and also register here the acknowledgement to all my students for sharing with the me love for the biomechanics and who do not hesitate to work hard, not only to learn and research biomechanics, but also to provide the possibility for other people to learn and research in this beautiful area of knowledge.

Felipe P Carpes, Professor at Federal University of Pampa in Uruguaiana, Brazil, Research Group on Applied Neuromechanics -



ISB-EDC Workshop Participants. Back: Ton van den Bogert, Rafael Torrealba, Carmen Müller-Karger, Nicholas Tam, Bart Koopman, José Acero, António Veloso. Front: Andrea Hemmerich, Rajani Mullerpatan, David Karpul, Veronique Feipel, Felipe Carpes.


A complete report documenting the outcomes of the ISB-EDC Workshop will be available for download from the EDC information page.

Special thanks go to all of the participants, in particular Veronique Feipel for her ideas and feedback towards workshop development.

Andrea Hemmerich, EDC Project Officer.


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