Siobhán Jordan: Feet first into latest bid to prevent injuries

3D gait analysis could help prevent injuries. Picture: Contributed
3D gait analysis could help prevent injuries. Picture: Contributed
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THREE-DIMENSIONAL gait analysis and helps offer the most cutting-edge treatments, writes Siobhán Jordan

What do feet, fitness and seaweed all have in common?

Starting with feet, StEPS podiatry, an award-winning private podiatrist clinic which works with professional footballers and athletes, wanted to provide a service to help prevent injury by using an in-depth study of feet.

Working with the University of Strathclyde StEPS podiatry owner Dr Vicki Cameron accessed highly specialised equipment including the Vicon Motion Analysis system, a 3D gait analysis machine which, in addition to video, uses micro cameras to create a highly detailed 3D image of the foot. 

A range of information obtained from the scan, such as arch height and the alignment of the Achilles with the leg, provided StEPS with valuable data which could be used in the development of Dr Cameron’s preventative screening equipment. Dr Cameron is one of the few independent podiatrists in Scotland trained in the use and interpretation of computerised three dimensional gait analysis and now offer the most cutting edge treatments, rarely available elsewhere, thanks to the collaboration with academia.

Fitness next. Scotlab Ltd, also worked with the University of Strathclyde and the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) to develop their demonstrator model of a portable breathing apparatus simulating altitude of up to 20,000 feet.

The first stage of the project used computer aided design and 3D printing to review their existing prototype and develop a portable version. The second stage of the project, partnering with academics from UWS, analysed the new prototype’s capabilities. Field tests were run on club level triathletes to provide data that would allow the academic team to produce an independent report demonstrating the performance capability and functionality of the device.  The resulting Altium-i10 is having a big impact on athletes, improving their performance in a timely and cost effective way.

Have you guessed the link yet?

Finally seaweed. Mara Seaweed, the UK’s leading culinary seaweed provider enlisted the help of Food Innovation @ Abertay at Abertay University where they were able to conduct microbiological and nutritional analysis and consumer taste testing to support them in their aim to communicate seaweed as ‘the superfood of the sea’. As a result, Mara have been able to promote their product’s nutritional values and have reached new markets, gaining access to some of the most prestigious high-end retailers and catching the attention of top chefs.

The theme linking these three very different companies is their use of specialist facilities within Scotland’s universities to create, develop, test and analyse performance and improve functionality. Another linking feature to these projects is Interface, which helped to connect each of the companies to the universities, their expertise and specialist facilities. For small companies where time, resource and budget may be limited, these specialist facilities can help to improve the performance, cost and quality of products or processes in a controlled safe and scientific environment. Interface have recently launched an online specialist facilities showcase to promote the types of facilities and equipment which are available throughout Scotland’s Higher Education Institutions to support commercial research and development activities.

This platform highlights many examples of the wide range of specialist facilities housed throughout Scotland from 3D printers to create products and prototypes to microscopy providing comprehensive analysis of materials, nutrition labs to support research into diet and ingredients, sensory suites to gain consumer feedback from evaluating products on taste, texture, colour and appearance, virtual reality for gaming, medicine and training, wave tanks to mimic aquatic conditions for product testing and strength testers to test whether products will withstand any forces they may be subjected to.

These are just examples of what is available - there is a huge amount of equipment and Interface can help to match businesses to the right facilities and supporting expertise.

And worry not, hiring these specialist facilities comes with a package of support including in-house experts who will provide training and the knowledge needed to get the best out of the facilities. Check out the new website http://www.interface-online.org.uk/how-we-can-help/specialist-facilities to see the range of specialist facilities available throughout Scotland.

• Dr Siobhán Jordan is director of Interface which she has led since it was set up in 2005