One of the most advanced, innovative and unique motion analysis labs in North America provides researchers with all the tools they need to succeed, and it can be found at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.
Dr. Usha Kuruganti and Dr. Victoria Chester, co-directors of the Andrew and Marjorie McCain Human Performance Laboratory, said both the university and the community benefit by having such a facility at their fingertips.
“We have a lot of highly specialized equipment which allows us to look at movement from a variety of perspectives,” said Kuruganti. “We can get a very accurate picture of what’s happening when people move.”
Kuruganti and Chester, professors in the faculty of kinesiology, are able to explore new research because of the large-volume lab fitted with equipment.
The Human Performance Lab at the Richard J. CURRIE CENTER features state of the art equipment, including a motion capture system, a Cybex isokinetic strength-training chair and two electromyography systems.
These elements combine to provide researchers with accurate readings for strength testing, muscle activity, ground forces and more.
Since opening in 2011, the lab has been one of only a few around the world.
Kuruganti said that while there are similar movement labs across the county, the Human Performance Lab remains unique because of the track that bisects the lab. Researchers can open the doors and allow participants to walk, jog, or wheel through the lab, which facilitates continuous motion during measurement.
“When we were building the Currie Center in 2009, we researched other movement labs and during that time I visited Duke University,” Kuruganti said. “They have a motion lab and do similar work, although they focus more on sports. They were shocked at what we were building here in Fredericton.”
Three primary researchers – Kuruganti, Chester, and Chris McGibbon – work in the lab, along with numerous graduate and honours undergraduate students.
The lab has also attracted national and international students and research assistantships from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Awards program and Mitacs.
Kuruganti said she’s noticed an increase in the number of students applying to work there. The international recognition is also growing, with three interns from India and one from Iran studying in the lab since it opened.
The lab and researchers provide an excellent training environment for advanced human movement studies, Chester said.
The combination of the lab’s size and bisecting track, as well as the researchers who have pooled their equipment together, means for the past five years they’ve been able to complete studies they couldn’t do before.
Recent studies at the lab include rehabilitation and strength training with elderly people and researching adults with Parkinson’s disorder. Chester has done a great deal of work studying strength in children with cerebral palsy and movement patterns in children with autism.
Researchers also collaborate with industry partners including Spielo, B-Temia and Sabian Cymbals. The lab is well positioned to help companies validate and test their technology, opening up partnerships.
Kuruganti believes the lab is special in New Brunswick and beyond – and is a huge draw for both students and industry partners.
“We should be extremely proud of what we built. The Richard J CURRIE Center and the Andrew and Marjorie McCain Human Performance Laboratory have opened new opportunities for us and New Brunswick.”
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