Preventing Sports Injuries: Science-Based Video Technology Making Strides

Anthony Luke, MD, assesses the running biomechanics of Harold  Guzman, a client
Anthony Luke, MD, assesses the running biomechanics of Harold Guzman, a client at the UCSF RunSafe Healthy Runners Clinic.

By Kate Rauch

It is the same technology that allows people to sweat out a game of tennis, master new dance steps, or stretch in a yoga pose at their TV screen.

Anthony Luke, MD, MPH, a runner himself and UCSF associate professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, is using 2- and 3-D video game technologies for injury prevention. He developed UCSF’s RunSafe injury prevention clinic, where videos of runners are analyzed for safety recommendations. The images allow specialists to analyze the gait, posture and other body mechanics of runners, observing patterns that may cause injury.

Now, thanks largely to a unique T1 Translational Catalyst Award, offered by UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), Luke can pursue his efforts to fine tune RunSafe’s methodology, so that the program can bring the most benefit to the greatest number of people. The goal is a state-of-the-art, cost-effective model that can be easily replicated in clinics worldwide.

With an estimated 30 million runners in the world, there’s keen interest in preventing costly and debilitating injuries, Luke said. RunSafe clinics could potentially create a large data base of valuable information.

The CTSI’s T1 Translational Catalyst Award is designed to help drive promising research through the complexities of early stage development by connecting UCSF scientists to customized expertise and capabilities outside of UCSF and the traditional academic realm. The phased award offers up to $100,000 of funding but more importantly, customized consultation and support for medical and health product development including legal, financial, and regulatory issues.

The granting process is phased, with each level providing customized support from legal, financial, and regulatory experts in medical and health product development.

Luke received the highest award level which includes one-to-one expert consultation, and $100,000 in funding. He was teamed with Peter Berger, entrepreneur, attorney with a background in biotech and the current CEO of “This is why this grant makes a difference. It combines the business and research aspects to help promote a product as opposed to general NIH funding.” Luke said. “

Luke is comparing 2-D with 3-D imaging, and scouring other technologies with his eye on the R&D hotbeds of the gaming industry, especially the motion sensor systems found on the Microsoft Kinect and Wii.

“Our consultant, Peter, understands the gaming world, and the new technologies that could really help, and he brings a lot of expertise to planning the next steps,” Luke said.

The appreciation is two-way, Berger said. “The program provides a unique opportunity to be a part of the development of new and groundbreaking ideas. The most rewarding part of T1 Catalyst is its focus on making an improvement in human health and wellness, the 'the next big thing'."

CTSI at UCSF is a member of the national, NIH-funded CTSA network focusing on accelerating research to improve health. TheT1 Translational Catalyst Award is among a wide range of CTSI resources and services that support research at every stage.

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