XROMM puts biomechanics on the fast track

A team of neurosurgeons from the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) recently stepped into CAVE2--a next-generation, large-scale, virtual environment--to solve a vexing problem that presented itself in the arteries of the brain of a real patient. The method they used could someday benefit hundreds of thousands of Americans who fall victim to brain aneurysms and strokes, the third leading cause of death in the United States. For years, Andreas Linninger, professor of bioengineering and lead researcher of a project that measures and models blood flow in the brains of patients with stroke, and neurosurgeons had painstakingly used laptop and desktop computers to evaluate patient-specific images, which had been interpreted by computer algorithms to represent the brain and its blood flow in 3-D. But because of the limited image spatial-resolution of the day’s best-quality laptop and desktop computers, there was something the neurosurgeons couldn't see. That is, until they stepped into an automatic virtual environment, also known as a "CAVE"--a room in which images are seamlessly displayed so as to immerse an observer in a cyber world of 3-D data. "We had been looking at computer models of a particular patient's brain for several months," said Linninger, "but within five minutes of putting the model into the CAVE2, the chief endovascologist said we had connected certain arteries in a way that was inconsistent with anatomy." With that revelation, their model could be corrected. The use of UIC's virtual reality system to make the discovery could help change the way surgeons are trained and greatly improve patient care. CAVE2 combines the benefits of scalable-resolution display walls and virtual-reality systems to create a seamless 2-D and 3-D environment
Aches and pains got you down? The way you walk could be wearing out parts of your body. With support from the NSF’s Human-Centered Computing Program (HCC), Stanford University mechanical engineer Mark Cutkosky and his team are using volunteer test subjects to find out about one of the major problems at the root of knee pain–uneven wear and tear on the knee cartilage, which leads to arthritis. Cutkosky’s research, known as Movement Retraining, focuses on alleviating pain by analyzing and possibly changing a person’s stride. The goal is to slow the rate at which arthritis progresses and thereby delay or even eliminate the need for surgery. The research team outfits test subjects with sensors and then directs them to walk on a treadmill where custom software precisely calculates forces on the joints. That data helps the team determine if a gait change might help reduce pain. Find out more in this Science Nation video.
Credit: Science Nation, National Science Foundation

New biomechanics visualization technology can be shared among scientists in open source database

The protective shells that have helped keep turtles around for millions of years have also kept scientists guessing about just what’s going on inside.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), biologist Elizabeth Brainerd and her team at Brown University have developed X-ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology, or XROMM, a new technology that combines CAT scan and X-ray technology for visualizing bones and joints in motion, in both animals and humans. Brainerd incorporates MAYA, the same animation software used to create high-end Hollywood special effects, to layer the XROMM images together to create 3-D visualizations.

XROMM has already transformed studies of vertebrate animal motion. In fact, the technology has proved such a useful tool that other labs are ramping up their own XROMM capability, and Brainerd is designing better software to meet the new demand. Her team is also putting together an open source database so researchers can quickly and easily share their visualizations.

A team of neurosurgeons from the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) recently stepped into CAVE2–a next-generation, large-scale, virtual environment–to solve a vexing problem that presented itself in the arteries of the brain of a real patient. The method they used could someday benefit hundreds of thousands of Americans who fall victim to brain aneurysms and strokes, the third leading cause of death in the United States. For years, Andreas Linninger, professor of bioengineering and lead researcher of a project that measures and models blood flow in the brains of patients with stroke, and neurosurgeons had painstakingly used laptop and desktop computers to evaluate patient-specific images, which had been interpreted by computer algorithms to represent the brain and its blood flow in 3-D. But because of the limited image spatial-resolution of the day’s best-quality laptop and desktop computers, there was something the neurosurgeons couldn’t see. That is, until they stepped into an automatic virtual environment, also known as a “CAVE”–a room in which images are seamlessly displayed so as to immerse an observer in a cyber world of 3-D data. “We had been looking at computer models of a particular patient’s brain for several months,” said Linninger, “but within five minutes of putting the model into the CAVE2, the chief endovascologist said we had connected certain arteries in a way that was inconsistent with anatomy.” With that revelation, their model could be corrected. The use of UIC’s virtual reality system to make the discovery could help change the way surgeons are trained and greatly improve patient care. CAVE2 combines the benefits of scalable-resolution display walls and virtual-reality systems to create a seamless 2-D and 3-D environment

Brainerd’s project will substantially enhance the cyberinfrastructure for comparative biomechanics research and increase U.S. economic competitiveness through technology development and advanced training of the scientific workforce.

The research is this episode was supported by NSF award #1262156, Collaborative Research: Advances in Biological Informatics (ABI) Development: Integrated X-Ray Motion Analysis Software and Video Data Management for the Comparative Biomechanics Community.