Most of the Biomechanics Research Lab’s human testing is performed in the laboratories in the G.G. Brown Building. Some testing is also carried out at the U-M Medical Center in clinics and operating theaters.  

Motion Analysis Equipment: The Biomechanics Research Laboratory (BRL) maintains a fully-equipped state-of-the-art motion analysis laboratory. It has a Northern Digital Certus and two Optotrak® 3020 systems for measuring human movement, with access to two other Certus cameras. Up to 256 small infrared markers may be tracked at rates up to 4 kHz, with RMS error in 3D space of less than 1 mm.

Myoelectric Measurement Equipment: A 16 channel Delsys system is available along with several custom units.

Supported Surface Reaction Measurements: Eight 3-axis AMTI 1000 or 2000 lb capacity force plates are available with signal amplifiers.  A Novel in-shoe and platform foot-floor contact pressure mapping system is  available.

Drop Tower:  A 16′ drop tower is available for impact and materials testing.

Other Equipment: Microstrain microminiature DVRTs, Schaevitz 1000 LVDTs, Entran ELW 500N washer load cells, rotary encoders ranging from 1k to 6k lines, Entran linear and angular accelerometers; and power supplies, analog filters, Tektronix analog and TDS 220 digital oscilloscopes, function generators, multi-channel amplifiers, and other electronics test equipment are available. Machining: The BRL has a few common machine shop tools and many hand tools. Its electrical and computer engineers design, construct, and develop prototype instrumentation for many medical applications. Three patent applications are currently in process. Comprehensive machining, electronics, rapid prototyping and photographic services are available through the Department of Mechanical Engineering facilities.

Computing: The BRL has many PC computers for data acquisition and processing connected to a dedicated server, with full back-up capabilities, run by the Department of Mechanical Engineering.  The computers are also networked to a Hewlett Packard 2300 Laserjet printer, a number of other Laserjet printers, a HP flatbed scanner and a Nikon Slide scanner. Students, staff and researchers have a wide range of software available to them ranging from scientific programs to desktop publishing packages. Six of the laboratory computers are equipped with National Instruments 12 and 16 bit, 16 channel A/D and several DIO channel boards. ADAMS, LABVIEW, MATLAB, and Borland C++ libraries of routines for data analysis are in daily use. Engineering analysis software for analyzing the kinematic and kinetic aspects of human motion is developed in house. Additional software includes Office, EndNote, AutoCAD, SCRC IDEAS, Systat, Adobe Illustrator, PhotoShop, Portfolio, and so on. With these resources, excellent signal processing, data analysis, graphics, simulations, and other applications are able to be done. In addition, the University’s central computer system and many hundred workstations of the Computer Aided Engineering Network CAEN of the College of Engineering are available for use. They offer a variety of services including current high performance workstations and the latest engineering software.

Personnel: The BRL has three faculty (Ashton-Miller, Art Kuo, and Kathy Sienko) and a part-time technician responsible for human subject testing and safety.  Up to nine doctoral graduate research student assistants (50% effort) and three masters students work in the laboratory, along with up to 10 undergraduate hourly-paid students.

Human Subjects: Human subjects are available through the University’s Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC) – this is because the Laboratory serves as the core Biomechanics laboratory for that center. The OAIC Human Subjects Core currently has nearly 1600 subjects over age 60 years enrolled. A database on the demographics, functional status, medical status, medication usage, and other self-reported health-related information is maintained by this core.

Biological Tissue Testing (BSL2) Laboratory: The laboratory has a custom-built bi-axial tensile testing machine for small soft tissue samples.  It also houses the world’s first test apparatus for measuring anterior cruciate ligament strain in human knee joints, preloaded with representative knee muscle forces, and loaded under 3-D compound impulsive loads consistent with landing a jump.   Impulsive loads can be applied in compression, flexion, internal or external axial rotation, and/or varus or valgus.

Bibliography: The laboratory has biomechanics texts, reference books and other materials for students to use. 

MRI and Ultrasound Scans:   Once properly trained and granted appropriate human use permissions, students can access one of the world’s best organized and largest research data bases of MRI scans and ultrasound scans.