Musculoskeletal problems and long-term muscle, bone and joint problems plague many of us. Yet there are few efficient and affordable solutions for assessing people’s joint movement health or related muscular activities. “Showmotion is an anatomic motion analysis system. It performs 3D motion capture on patients, identifying any issues due to injury, musculoskeletal deficiency or impairment in less than 10 minutes,” says Matteo Mantovani, coordinator of the EU-funded SHOW MOTION project.
Functionally evaluating the upper or lower body
Patients wear up to eight wireless inertial sensors which generate raw data from an accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope. They are also fitted with surface electromyographic (EMG) probes to correlate kinematic and muscle activity. Software performs biomechanical analysis and compares patients’ movements with reference values. Clinicians can objectively assess any shift from normality and measure patient progress. When assessing a subject’s shoulder problems, a key application for Showmotion, an on-screen avatar, represents movements of the left and right shoulders. This allows direct comparison with previous data, with other patients and with the population distribution. “Thanks to motion-tracking and superficial EMG analysis, our system can monitor motion patterns and how the patient’s muscles are working. This offers real-time measurement of joint movements, enabling deep analysis of the muscles involved in each specific movement,” adds Mantovani, technical director and CEO at NCS Lab in Italy. Showmotion faced some usability and user experience challenges, as Mantovani observes: “We had to comply with clinicians’ expectations and habits for patient diagnosis workflow, especially their requirements for consistency, reliability, ease of use and effectiveness.”
Massive market potential
The global physiotherapy market was valued at around EUR 14 billion in 2016 and should enjoy steady growth. Showmotion’s speciality, the global 3D motion capture system market, is projected to be worth EUR 155 million by 2022, up from EUR 91 million in 2017. Showmotion has three target niches, the first being ‘in-depth movement understanding’, such as physiotherapy, rehabilitation and orthopaedics. The other two are ‘movement comparison’, which is ideal for sport analysis, plus ‘ergonomic studies’ on for example product design and risk prevention. “We have already promoted the system by approaching the sports world – including soccer, volleyball, running and baseball. Several professional teams have also successfully trialled Show Motion on their players. Over 90 % of potential customers introduced to our motion tracking technology say they see its value and want to test it,” notes Mantovani. Showmotion is today used by clinics in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and the United States (US). Mantovani expects more customers soon, aided by the project-developed business plan: “We estimate sales of over 400 Showmotion systems within 5 years after this project, equivalent to 1 % of the EU and US markets. We also expect to turn a EUR 16.5 million profit, generating a return on investment of 6.2 %.” “Showmotion has the potential to change the orthopaedic world for the better,” concludes Mantovani. “We provide an easy, affordable and fast way to track a patient’s progress. It validates the efficacy of the applied treatment, as well as enabling doctors, therapists and patients to compare and select multiple treatment options.”
SHOW MOTION, 3D, motion analysis system, anatomic, clinicians, EMG, motion tracking, musculoskeletal, patients, physiotherapy, sensors, sport