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Fund for Experience One Makes Motion Capture Research Possible for UMW Students

July 12, 2021

Last fall, the University of Montana Western Foundation awarded the Department of Health and Human Performance financial support from the Fund for Experience One to purchase Innovision’s Motion Capture Package for use in kinesiology courses at Montana Western. This innovative collection of technologies, often used in advanced scientific, private industry, and military research, represents the pinnacle of two-dimensional movement analysis and is used in a variety of medical assessments to predict and prevent injury and to assist in rehabilitation.

The Motion Capture Package includes multiple components that allow for precise analyses of human movement that can exceed the speed and sensitivity of normal cameras and the human eye. The department integrated the infrared, high-speed, high-resolution camera system, retro-reflective anatomical markers, and automated tracking software MaxTRAQ for the first time during the spring semester in Kinesiology 325: Biomechanics, an upper division analytics course that serves as one of the scientific cornerstone courses for Kinesiology and Physical Education and Health majors.

“Without the Foundation’s support, students would not have had the opportunity to learn about and employ these technologies themselves; with its support, students now graduate from the degree programs with practical experience that benefits them in both successive graduate programs and in their career positions,” said UMW Assistant Professor and Kinesiology 325 course instructor, Dr. Mitchell Stephenson.

Mitchell Stephenson

Through a problem-based learning approach, students in the Biomechanics course become familiar with the benefits and restrictions of kinematic technology and approaches, and then employ them in student team-designed research projects. In comparison to previous projects, the Motion Capture Package has expanded the types of research questions students can pursue to include significantly higher precision and movement speed.

“The camera is six times faster than the human eye. It captures movements that we can’t even see, which makes it easier for us to make recommendations to increase athletic performance and potentially reduce an athlete’s injury risk,” one student said.

This gift from the Fund for Experience One will benefit multiple groups of students as the course is offered by the HHP department every semester. Its integration into Kinesiology 325 has also inspired two students to design capstone research projects for Fall 2021 to investigate ligament injury risk and prevention strategies in two underserved, high-risk populations.

“The Department of Health and Human Performance cannot thank the Foundation and its benefactors enough for this gift,” said Stephenson. “This funding allows every student to become an expert in technologies and techniques that are rarely available outside of graduate school.”

For more information about the Montana Western Foundation and the Fund for Experience One, please visit

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