Our biomechanical lab uses virtual reality to better understand human movement and how to treat and prevent injuries.
The Computer-Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) is a cutting-edge facility that brings together biomechanics, computer science and neuroscience to analyse human movement and performance.
Using virtual reality to simulate the real world, the CAREN can produce real-time feedback on muscle and joint function to help us better understand how environmental stimuli can cause injury.
We collaborate with partners across a range of industries, from healthcare to defence.
For example, the CAREN has been used to:
- Optimise defence personnel using exoskeleton system and knee braces to carry load, preventing injury and enhancing their performance
- Research musculoskeletal injuries in sports, as well as how to prevent and accelerate recovery from these injuries
- Investigate the relationships between physical and cognitive performance, laying the groundwork for new interventions for older adults who are prone to falling.
We’ve also set ourselves a challenge to develop a digital human avatar – a virtual athlete, patient or soldier. It will combine models of cognitive, physical and physiological performance within integrated simulations, to help improve training and mitigate injuries.
Our lab features:
- An immersive virtual reality screen which surrounds a large ground-level platform that can be tilted or jolted back and forth in any direction. These can be configured to replicate different real-world environments (like a city street or a forest), including associated sounds, sights and other stimuli
- A treadmill on the platform, which has two belts that can be moved independently to simulate tripping and a harness prevents injury in the event of a fall
- Sensors, which are attached to the test subject’s body to provide feedback on muscle and joint performance. Muscle and brain activity can also be collected through methods like electromyography (EMG) and electroencephalography (EEG).
The CAREN can be used for a wide range of applications, including assessing how athletes injure themselves, tracking injury recovery and studying how real-world stimuli affect soldiers’ bodies under battle stress.
It’s used by University of Melbourne researchers and students in collaboration with our industry partners. We’ve worked with wide range of clients, including the Defence Science and Technology Group, knee brace development company, POD Active, and the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Contact us on the details below to discuss how this leading facility and our research expertise could help you.
First published on 24 May 2022.
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