Penn State researchers are investigating the use of micro-doppler radars for use in clinical settings to predict injury risk and track recovery progress. The ability to detect subtle differences in human movement would enable health care workers to more accurately identify individuals who may be at risk of injury or to track progress precisely while individuals are recovering from an injury. College of Engineering and College of Medicine researchers teamed up to develop an accurate, reliable and cost-effective radar in front of which athlete study-subjects could jump.
"My students and I designed and constructed the radar system to characterize the micro-Doppler features of human gait, developed and tested various classification algorithms to separate patterns from different gait types and validated our hypothesis using measured data from athletes mimicking different gait patterns,” said Ram Narayanan, professor of electrical engineering in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Relying on the Doppler effect the radar provides precise information about the movements of the target, in this case, the athlete. This radar system could be a cost-effective, portable and scalable alternative to motion capture systems, which are currently the most accurate system for showing subtle movements. However, they are too expensive, large and time-intensive with use to be a viable option in most situations.
"The micro-Doppler radar has not been used in health care to this point and is a novel way to look at human movement," said Dr. Cayce Onks, associate professor of family and community medicine and of orthopedics and rehabilitation in the College of Medicine, and physician at Penn State Health.