Aches and pains got you down? The way you walk could be wearing out parts of your body. With support from the National Science Foundation’s Human-Centered Computing Program, Stanford University mechanical engineer Mark Cutkosky and his team are using volunteer test subjects to find out. One of the major problems at the root of knee pain is 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. Cutkosky and his team developed a biofeedback device for treadmill walking that vibrates when there is a misstep to help test subjects learn their new gaits. Movement Retraining isn’t just for people in pain. Cutkosky says athletes could improve their moves with this biofeedback technique – everything from golf swings to jump shots.
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Stanford engineer Mark Cutkosky's team believes patients can slow the progression of arthritis by consciously adjust their stride. Outfitting treadmill-walking subjects with sensors lets custom software pinpoint pain for reduction.

Credit: NSF - Science Nation

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