Haid Thomas, M.Sc. (Dipl.-Ing., Ph.D. student)
Annual Report 2016 (pdf)
Annual Report 2015 (pdf)
Research into movement variability and into the coordinative structure of movement patterns has gained momentum in recent years as the significance of these aspects of human movement for important functional characteristics, such as motor learning, balance and stability, situation adaptability, or coping with pathologies become more and more apparent.
Our research group investigates sensorimotor integration. We analyse movement variability; the coordinative structure of movement patterns (PCA; “principal movements”); how muscles are activated and how muscle activation is coordinated between muscles (EMG, muscle synergies); and we monitor brain activity (EEG) to link phenomena in the EEG with aspects of movement control.
One focus of our group is postural control research. The ability to accurately control ones movements and posture is relevant in all stages of life. It’s one of the first things an infant learns and it determines to a large extend health, independence, and quality of life in old age. In sports, balance is highly relevant for performance and for injury prevention. It seems obvious that postural control is related to the coordination of the movements of different segments, however, how exactly does this coordinative structure manifest itself? Is better balance associated with faster, stronger, or better coordinated reaction to perturbations? What exactly changes in the movement characteristics during balance training? Do movement patterns differ between stable and unstable or between young and old subjects? How does fatigue affect balance and coordination? - Our group develops and applies methods examining covariation in segment kinematics to approach questions about balance and coordination from a new angle.
A second research focus is technique analysis in sports. The technique of an athlete is the specific coordinative whole-body movement pattern that the athletes exhibit in standard situations of their sport. On the one hand, the technique of an athlete depends on highly specific factors such as the specific body shape, motor learning history, and abilities of the individual athlete; on the other hand, there are common features in the techniques of athletes that allow an experienced coach to characterize, evaluate, and even suggest improvements to the specific techniques of athletes. Scientifically it is challenging how the techniques of different athletes can objectively be compared and how suggestions for improvements can be derived. We quantify the underlying coordinative structure of movements to quantify and compare the techniques between groups of athletes.