The use of motion capture cameras could be a way to assess athlete performance and injury risk, researchers suggest in a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise.

In their study, investigators assessed 542 athletes, ranging in skill from beginner (youth or recreational) to professional (NFL, NBA, FIFA, and MLB players). Each athlete completed seven movements while being filmed by motion capture cameras.

These cameras are like those used to bring life-like movements to Gollum in The Lord of the Rings movies and to players in sports video games, according to a media release from the American College of Sports Medicine.

By combining the athletes’ camera data with computer-based artificial intelligence, the investigators were able to classify athletes as elite or novice based on how they moved. For a more detailed outcome beyond this basic classification, the athletes also were scored on a scale from 0% (moves like a novice) to 100% (moves like a professional).

This method could offer a breakthrough in movement assessment that may reduce the need to rely on human observers, as well as improve consistency of classifying athletes in movement evaluations by coaches/doctors. In addition, it may be used for sports training and rehabilitation purposes, the researchers suggest.

The investigators’ next step will be to use this method to identify those athletes who are more likely to sustain an injury.

[Source(s): American College of Sports Medicine, Newswise]