Qualisys Stories

The front line of Back to Sport operations

Institut für Funktionelle Diagnostik (IFD) Cologne was founded in 2014 as an initiative between Professor Peter Bruggeman, the Head of the Institute for Biomechanics and Orthopedics at the German Sport University – Cologne, and a group of doctors that have a strong connection to the analysis of elite athletes in Germany. The idea was to take methods which are typically used in research applications and use it towards patient assessment.

  • 3D Motion Analysis

    • 12 x Miqus M3
    • 2 x Miqus Video
  • Running Analysis

    • 9 x Miqus M3
  • Software

    • QTM
    • Running (module)

The imperial productivity behind the institute is driven by the intercommunication of various different departments, such as medical doctors and practitioners, diagnostic professionals, biomechanists, and physical therapists. These experts are all driven towards a common goal, which is to uncover the origin of the movement related problem in their patients.

A patient can be anyone suffering from joint pain, ranging from the common public to elite professional athletes. The assessment process is individualized for each patient due to the injury’s limitation, a history of physical ailment, physical aptitude, or motivational factors for quick recovery.

IFD Cologne - feature photo

To start, all patients go through a preliminary interview for the IFD expert to better understand what problems they are suffering from. The team then designs a plan which tasks will be performed for optimal analytical measurement of the patient’s limitation. The plan is constructed around the input of the patient as he or she expresses the activities that seem feasible.

IFD Cologne - feature photo

Next, testing is performed, which can incorporate strength tests, plantar pressure measurements, whole body scans, EMG measurements, and movement analysis. This is where the Qualisys motion capture comes into play, giving the team the ability to measure and analyze various different functional movements. These movements are individualized to the patient being assessed, for instance, elite football/soccer players perform more dynamic trials such as change of direction, stopping, and jumping tasks,  while elderly undergo slower movement assessment as in typical gait analysis.

IFD Cologne - feature photo

Data collected from all of the testing gives heed to what Dr. Steffen Willwacher (IFD Sport Scientist), refers to as “playing detective” – analyzing the results. An analysis is performed on all tested activities, isolating abnormalities and linking them to others which may cater to the overall deficiency of the patient.

IFD Cologne - feature photo

From there, recommendations are delivered, which are conceptualized in 3 different categories. The first is related to the way people move, in which movement training proposed to the patient and/or athlete, such as biofeedback assessment for input on how to adjust athletic form or movement patterns. The second recommendation is pertaining to the muscularity and flexibility of the patient, suggesting which muscle group to be stronger or more flexible. Lastly, and least frequently, is the recommendation to technological aids such as running shoes, insoles or orthotic devices

IFD Cologne - feature photo

Before IFD had acquired the Qualisys motion capture systems in the Summer of 2017, analyzing functional movements and limitation was a much more laborious task. Although Dr. Steffen Willwacher had developed a program within MATLAB to streamline data processing, improvements were still needed to support report comprehensibility for the patient’s understanding and continuous practice.

The purchase of 2 Qualisys systems was supplemented with a constructive relationship between the team of experts at IFD Cologne and the developers at Qualisys. The two groups collaborated for a number of years, building a module and beta testing its reporting process, which incorporated the Dr. Willwacher’s initial programming schema as a baseline. The team at IFD assesses functional performance to designate a pathway to rehabilitation, a concept often referred to as “Back to Sport,” therefore, the collaboration between IFD and Qualisys was aimed at the delivery of immediate and comprehensive results to patient.

The outcome is the new Functional Assessment Module, released by Qualisys in April 2020. The Functional Assessment Module allows users to improve communication between the diagnostic professionals, medical doctors, and the Physical Therapists so that the outcome for the patient is optimized. It minimizes the processing work from several days to less than 30 minutes, and it provides an interactive data-driven web report, which is fully comprehensible in the eyes of the patient.

The Functional Assessment Module is now a product that others can use when working with injured and rehabilitating patients, for efficient occupational practices and a faster means of getting an athlete Back to Sport.

We do believe that motion capture can help to identify the origins of movement related problems. Our work serves medical doctors and physical therapists to help patients overcome their injury related restrictions as fast as possible.

Steffen Willwacher PhD,
IFD Sport Scientist
Steffen Willwacher