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Tracking head movement - summary

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  • Tracking head movement - summary

    Thank you to all who so promptly replied to my queery concerning tracking head movement. The information was very helpful. The following is a summary of replies.

    1. I've tracked head movement in more than 20 subjects (gait and various
    balance tasks). I use Richard Baker's marker placement: mastoid
    processes and glabellum. These three landmarks are easily and
    repeatedly located and define a triangle with the centre of mass of the
    head at its centre. I know the animation people usually use four markers
    on a headband, but I think this is unnecessary and unrepeatable.

    Dr. Chris Kirtley MD, PhD
    Assistant Professor
    Department of Rehabilitation Sciences
    The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
    Hung Hom
    Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of
    Tel.: +852 2766 6755 Fax +852 2330 8656

    2. This is a stretch, but there is a guy in New Jersey that says that he can teach you to determine head movement (and scads of other body actions) by looking at a barefoot print made in sand. See .

    Del Morris

    3. If you don't mind having a tethered system and your setup does not have
    too much electromagnetic interference from other equipment, you may want
    to look into a device made by Polhemus that can track fixed markers. It
    works well for static tasks, but for gait it may be tougher since there is
    a wire attached to the "marker".

    Edward Auyang ||
    Department of Environmental Health
    University of Cincinnati Medical Center

    4. References

    J Vestib Res 1997 Mar-Jun;7(2-3):161-77
    Locomotor head-trunk coordination strategies following space flight.
    Bloomberg JJ, Peters BT, Smith SL, Huebner WP, Reschke MF

    Exp Brain Res 1990;82(1):97-106
    Head stabilization during various locomotor tasks in humans. I. Normal
    Pozzo T, Berthoz A, Lefort L

    These papers should give you references for a marker set in tracking the
    movement of the head during gait. Essentially the marker set we use in the
    Neurosciences Motion Lab here at JSC, NASA to study Head, trunk motion
    during gait includes three markers placed on a helmet (light weight pulled
    out of a welders hat) such that one coincides with the vertex of the head,
    another near the occipital area and the third lines up just above the right
    ear. You can possibly rearrange the markers as a matter of convenience for
    your camera placement or other biomechanical calculation constraints.

    Ajitkumar P. Mulavara, Ph.D.
    Neurosciences Section,
    Wyle Laboratories
    1290 Hercules Blvd, Suite 120, MC: NL/B37
    Houston, TX 77058

    5. Try contacting Roni Cromwell, PhD at Temple University. She has been doing work looking at head on trunk movements during gait. She may have some ideas and I believe she is a member of the listserv. Her e-mail address is

    Bob Wellmon

    6. References
    Woltring, H.J., Long, K., Osterbauer, P.J., Fuhr, A.W., 1994. Instantaneous
    Helical Axis Estimation from 3 D Video Data in Neck Kinematics for Whiplash
    Diagnostics. Journal of Biomechanics 27, 1415-1415.

    Winters, J.M., Peles, J.D., Osterbauer, D.C., Derickson, K., Deboer, K.F.,
    Fuhr, A.W., 1993. Three-dimensional head axis of rotation during tracking
    movements. Spine 18, 1178-1185.

    Peter Cripton, MSc (Eng)
    University of Bern
    Mueller Institute for Biomechanics
    P. O. Box 30
    Murtenstrasse 35
    3010 Bern, Switzerland

    7. We did something similar but found it much easier to put a 3D accelerometer on the head, and calculated the displacements from the signals. In the end this proved much simpler.

    8. In a trial we recently performed tracking head movement,
    although it was a seated trial. We identified and tracked the following
    left and right acromium
    left and right zygomatic arch
    tip of the nose.
    The acromiums gave data relating to head orientation in comparison with
    the body. Whilst the remaining points relate to head tilt, rotation and
    directional aspects. Obviously this would only apply to tracking the
    forward area of the head but it produced the relevant data about head
    orientation etc.

    Simon Wickes

    Centre for Human Sciences
    DERA Farnborough
    Tel: (+44) 1252 392660
    Fax: (+44) 1252 392097

    Pozzo and Berthoz and their colleagues carried out a series of
    experiments to investigate the stability of the orientation of the
    head in space during various modes of locomotion. The first study is
    a truly original piece of work, which was based on Muybridge's
    studies: The Human Figure in Motion (1955). To summarise their
    method: they placed their markers on: 1) the outer
    canthus of the eye and 2) the auditory meatus. The angle between the
    head "cantho-meatic" line and the earth vertical, as well as linear
    and angular velocity was then used for further analysis.

    9. References:

    Berthoz A. & Pozzo T. (1988) Intermittent head stabilization during
    postural and locomotory tasks in humans. In: B. Amblard, A.
    Berthoz & F. Clarac (Eds.), Posture and gait: development, adaptation
    and modulation (pp. 189-198). Elsevier Science Publishers B.V.
    (Biomedical Division)

    Pozzo T, Berthoz A., Lefort L. (1989) Head kinematics during various
    motor tasks in humans. In: J. H.J. Allum & M. Hulliger (Eds.).
    Progress in Brain Research (pp. 377-383). Elsevier Science
    Publishers B.V. (Biomedical Division).

    Pozzo T., Berthoz A., Lefort L. (1990a) Head kinematics during
    complex movements. In: A. Berthoz, W. Graf & P.P. Vidal (Eds.)
    Head-neck sensory-motor system. New York: Wiley & sons.

    Pozzo T., Berthoz A., Lefort L. (1990b) Head stabilization during
    various locomotor tasks in humans. Experimental Brain Research 82,

    Berthoz A. & Pozzo T. (1994). Head and body co-ordination during
    locomotion and complex movements. In: S.P. Swinnen, H. Heuer, J.
    Massion & P. Casaer (Eds.), Interlimb co-ordination: neural, dynamical
    and cognitive constraints (pp. 147-165). San Diego: Academic press.

    This marker placement was also used in the following study which
    investigated head-eye co-ordination during locomotion:
    Van Wijck F. (1995) Watching your step: A literature and empirical
    study into the co-ordination of gaze and foot movements duriing
    stepping. Masters Thesis, Perception and Action Laboratories,
    Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh.

    10. I used markers on the forehead, chin, and in front of the ears to track the
    motion of the head when I did my research...I don't remember if I got that
    from a reference or just decided to use them.

    "Nichols-Ketchum, Martha"

    11. If you are interested in 2D analysis, one suggestion would be the placement used by Pozzo and colleagues in a number of papers--one is in Progress in
    Brain Research (1989) 80:377-383. If you are interested in 3D analysis I
    would suggest work done by W.G. Darling in the 1990's using the Watsmart

    "Jan M. Hondzinski"

    12. We are a Gait laboratory interested in all segmental movements during
    walking. Recently, we have added head postion (tilt, lateral flexion,
    and rotation) to our list. We are using a Motion Analysis 3-D
    high-speed video system with 6 cameras operating at 60 Hz to capture a
    full body set of retro-reflective markers. We use 3 markers arranged
    on a baseball cap: one anterior, one top, and one posterior on the
    midline of the head. We align the hat so that when the patient is
    relaxed and looking forward, the line formed by the anterior and
    posterior markers is parallel to floor. We call this neutral position.
    We then create a coordinate system from the 3 markers and reference the
    orientation of this system to our room system and the local system fixed
    to the trunk.

    We are using a program called Orthotrak 4.1 (Motion Analysis Corp.),
    which automatically performs the above calculations.

    Patrick W. Castagno
    Manager/Biomechanist - Gait Analysis Laboratory
    duPont Hospital for Children
    1600 Rockland Road
    Wilmington, DE 19899

    Robin L. Marcus, MS, PT, OCS
    Clinical Assistant Professor
    University of Utah
    Division of Physical Therapy
    phone 801.581.4813
    FAX 801.585.5629

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