Motion Analysis Research Center

The Motion Analysis Research Center (MARC) is a premier, interdisciplinary laboratory created for students and faculty to collaborate on evaluation and research related to human motion and kinesiology.  

Evidence-Based Education 

The MARC is a state-of-the-art research and teaching facility offering immersive and dynamic learning experiences for students in kinesiology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, podiatric medicine, physician assistant, and nursing programs at Samuel Merritt University. 

Students, faculty, and health care professionals can study biomechanics, balance, gait, upper and lower body movement, and the effect of athletic training, clinical intervention methods, and wearable technology—valuable evidence-based findings that can then be applied to client services and patient care. 

The MARC also allows students and faculty to work side-by-side on significant research initiatives and clinical trials to find solutions to movement challenges impacting people’s lives. 

What Happens at the MARC?

Each year, students and faculty members team up to learn, discover, and share findings related to human motion, many of which could lead to improving the quality of life for those with movement disorders. Below are a few examples of recent projects and studies.

  • Maximalist Shoes — Podiatric faculty research studies of highly-cushioned, maximalist shoes. One SMU-funded study measured the walking and running of 20 subjects, while an industry-funded study compared two different models of maximalist shoes (neutral vs. motion control) recruited nearly 40 subjects. These studies included 3D dynamic gait analysis and in-shoe pressure mapping profiles.
  • Influence of Speed and Incline on Walking — Control of balance during dynamic activities like walking is crucial and particularly challenging for persons with disabilities. Faculty from the MARC and Physical Therapy (PT) are conducting a study of treadmill walking at different speeds and inclines to understand how people adapt to these conditions. Results including interesting findings related to margin of stability, work done during push off, and mechanical energy generation, absorption, and transfer amongst segments.
  • Three-dimensional Kinematic Analysis of Circus Arts Performers —  A joint MARC-PT project where 14 highly-skilled aerial artists performed inversion maneuvers on hoop, trapeze, silks, and rope.  Their motion was captured using a 15 inertial mornitoring unit (IMU) system.  The next phase of this research program will add electromyography (EMG) to better understand how elite artists  perform and how injuries may be prevented.
  • ACL Injury Prevention—A joint University of California Berkeley-SMU project supervised by MARC and UCB faculty and which includes three M.Eng. capstone students.  This initial phase study intends to determine if ACL kinematics can be modeled using 3D motion capture data.  Future studies will include modeling ligament forces and the potential of custom orthotics to reduce the risk of ACL non-contact injuries in young, female athletes.

MARC researchers also partner with other academic institutions and medical facilities.

  • University of California Berkeley/UC San Francisco's Ergonomic Research and Graduate Training Program—Expanding research capabilities in occupational and environmental health
  • University of California Berkeley College of Engineering - Master's of Engineering Capstone Industry Partner

More on the MARC

Andrew (Drew) Smith, B.P.E., M.H.K., M.Ed., Ph.D., Professor and MARC director, has nearly 45 years of experience in the field of human movement analysis, clinical and sports biomechanics, and kinesiology.  He has worked internationally in academic and clinical settings, and research labs in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and now, the USA. His primary areas of research are posture, balance, and gait, in particular, the neuromuscular control of motion across a wide spectrum of movements. Before coming to SMU, Drew was an associate professor and associate head of the Department of Health and Physical Education at The Education University of Hong Kong.  Drew holds adjunct appointments in the College of Health Sciences departments of Kinesiology, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy, as well as the College of Podiatric Medicine.  He is also an affiliated faculty member of the joint University of California Berkeley/UC San Francisco's Ergonomic Research and Graduate Training Program and is an Industry Partner in the University of California Berkeley's College of Engineering MEng Capstone Program.

Bob Baker, PT, Ph.D., MARC clinical assistant professor. Baker has 30 years of blended experience in orthopedic physical therapy and clinical research. He writes and publishes on lower extremity biomechanics, including best practice Iliotibial Band Syndrome. His research interests have focused on the biomechanical investigation of lower extremity running injuries. Other research interests include motor control and functional testing related to orthopedic and sports injuries.

MARC is well-equipped and continually updated with the high-tech tools needed to study movement and collect data. Hardware includes:

  • Motion Analysis Corporation 12 Kestrel Camera Motion Capture System, featuring Cortex software

  • Xsens MVN Analyze Inertial Monitoring Units (IMUs) for camera-free, full-body 3D motion capture

  • C-Motion Visual 3D, advanced research software for biomechanical analysis of 3D motion capture data

  • AMTI Floor-Mounted Force Platforms (x 6)

  • AMTI Instrumented Treadmill with two force platforms

  • Delsys Trigno and Avanti Wireless Electromyography (EMG) Systems (32-channels)

  • Novel EMED and PEDAR Pressure Mapping Systems

  • Tekscan F-Scan Pressure Mapping System

  • Protokinetics Zeno Gait Walkway

  • Natus Smart Equitest Balance Manager

  • Cosmed K5 Wearable Metabolic Testing System

  • Lumbar Motion Monitor

  • Aretech Zero-G Passive Gait Training System

  • Biodex System 4 Pro Isokinetic Dynamometer

  • APDM Mobility Lab Comprehensive Gait & Balance Analysis

Here's Some of the Activities in the MARC:

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