Cross-Platform Comparison of Imaging Technologies for Measuring Musculoskeletal Motion

  • Richard M. Smith
  • Frances T. Sheehan
Reference work entry


Human movement is integral to daily life, it defines our species (the ability to walk upright and manipulate objects using an opposable thumb), and it is central to our ability to interact with our environment. As such, the study of human motion is dually important in our ability to optimize human functional ability. It provides a platform for understanding how pathology or injury affects human motion, so that we can both prevent and treat such pathologies. The earliest studies of human motion were mainly observational to qualify types of movements, while the current discipline and subdisciplines of human movement studies aim to quantify musculoskeletal kinematics, at times with submillimeter accuracy.

The aim of this chapter is to discuss invasive and noninvasive methodologies for studying human motion with a focus on the reported accuracies, advantages, and limitations for each technique. Accuracies are presented throughout this chapter if they were reported as maximum average absolute or root mean squared errors for accuracy data for translational (in millimeters) and rotational data (in degrees) in order to simplify the reporting of cumulative accuracies from relevant articles. Thus, this review will highlight the current state of each methodology, as a platform for future investigators to build on these technologies.


Validation Accuracy Magnetic resonance imaging MRI Cine MRI Cine phase contrast CPC motion capture Fluoroscopy Single-plane videoradiography Biplane videoradiography Ultrasound Muscle Skeletal Musculoskeletal Computed Tomography CT Motion capture Optoelectronic tracking system OTS Pose estimation 



We thank Judith Welsh for her help and support toward this project. This work was funded by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Bethesda, MD, USA. This research was also made possible through the NIH Medical Research Scholars Program, a public-private partnership (


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rehabilitation Medicine Department, Functional and Applied Biomechanics SectionNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • William Scott Selbie
    • 1
  1. 1.Has-Motion Inc.KingstonCanada

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