Cyberspace is a term created by William Gibson in
his novel, Neuromancer, to represent a universe sustained by a vast network
of computers and telecommunications lines. Gibson's fantasy universe became a reality with
the Internet which provides access to a worldwide collection of information resources and
services is a window on the ever-expanding world of online information. The new
communication links afforded by rapid satellite/computer exchanges will enable the field
of Biomechanics to advance into a new age of technology, resources, research, data base
development, as well as interaction among Scientists.
Utilizing the tools available in Cyberspace, the
Biomechanist can retrieve and display data as well as documents from virtually anywhere on
the planet. Studies can be conducted at multiple locations and data rapidly exchanged
among these sites. Application of multiple media sources is possible within Cyberspace and
is referred to as hypermedia; Thus, with the Internet's hypermedia-based interface,
documents can include color images, text, sounds, and animation. As a hypermedia
technology designed for searching and retrieving, Internet provides a unified interface to
the diverse protocols, data formats, and information archives appropriate for
biomechanical endeavor. Furthermore, most of the documents are hypertext; which is a paper
containing links to other text, media, and/or information. In other words, electronic
links known as Hyperlinks - can provide specified information within a document by
embedding full color images, sounds, graphs, bibliographies, supplementary resources, data
bases, etc. located within that text or at some distant site. This interface allows
information located around the world to be interconnected in an environment that permits
users to travel through the information super-highway merely by clicking on hyperlinks;
Similarly, complex biomechanical research segments at different research sites can be
tethered; through these hyperlink; phase. Biomechanical research and subsequent reports
become virtually three-dimensional with this multiple level access.
The present study was designed to test the efficacy
of acquiring data at a host; site with simultaneous online interaction with a second
location. The following Internet tools were selected as appropriate for the study:
- FTP (File Transfer Protocol) - to transfer large
video and document files from site to site.
- Gopher - To retrieve and post research finding and
- (World Wide Web) - To hyperlink documents with video
images and sound.
- HTML (Hyper Text Mark-up Language) - To create the
The study's purpose was to test the capabilities of
the Internet in conducting a Biomechanical study. The subjects performed an arm
flexion-extension exercise in two minute bouts on a specialized device which controlled
and recorded the force for each repetition. At the completion of each bout, the Subjects
performed a five second isometric contraction during which both the force exerted and the
EMG signals from the biceps and triceps brachii were recorded. A simple movement task,
pointing to a target, was performed and captured on video by two cameras. There was a one
minute rest following the isometric test and then the next flexion-extension exercise bout
was begun. Modem connections for the computers which controlled and recorded data for the
exercise, EMG, and the isometric contraction were established prior to the initiation of
each subject's first bout of exercise. Baseline and test measurements were secured for the
maximum voluntary isometric contraction and EMG signals and immediately transmitted via
Internet to the remote site for quantification. Transmission of the video from each camera
view followed for subsequent quantification. The goal was for the scientist at the remote
site to receive and quantify the force and EMG data using the fatigue formula presented by
Basmajian and De Luca (1) for determining the point of fatigue. Following this
fatigue-induced failure point determination, decisions regarding the continuation or
cessation of exercise could be made.
The study was conducted between two locations within
the United States. A computerized exercise device was employed for the arm
flexion-extension task with the subject's arm stabilized in an effort to restrict
extraneous bodily movements. The exercise conformed to a predetermined acceleration
pattern throughout the entire exercise. Software regulated the iso-acceleration pattern
regardless of the level of fatigue in a manner which was transparent to the exercising
subject. The investigator was situated in an appropriate position to monitor the subject's
performance and to regulate the timing sequence EMG data was collected simultaneously with
force data immediately before and at the end of each exercise bout.
Exercise data, isometric force values, and the EMG
signals were transferred from the Host site to the recipient site immediately following
the data recordings EMG and force quantifications were transferred from the recipient site
back to the Host as soon as the results had been calculated.
Figures 1 and 2 illustrate one of the video picture
transmitted and the associated digitized data, respectively. Figure 3 illustrates an
individual EMG signal.
Figure 1 -Transmitted Video Picture
Figure 2 - Digitized Data
Figure 3 - EMG data - raw signal in the top curve, processed in remaining three curves.
Following repeated bouts of fatiguing exercise, the
Subject results demonstrated remarkable similarity for the time required to reach the
failure point. This was an unexpected finding despite the effort to find subjects who
represented a homogeneous population, in this case, volunteer weight xxx. Following the
data collection and Internet calculations between sites, subsequent kinematics, force,
EMG, and fatigue level determinations were calculated and reported in documents at each
site. Hyperlinks were embedded in the graphic documents to link the video images with the
associated kinematics parameters such as position, velocity and acceleration. In addition,
the EMG data was hyperlinked with the kinematic parameters from the video analysis and
kinetic data from the computerized exercise device.
Although the Internet electronic linking
capabilities allow more elaborate and exotic research protocol, the efficacy of a simple
two site participation with nearly real time data transference and quantification was
deemed sufficient for this study. This study successfully demonstrated that biomechanical
research in the 21st century can utilize the power of the Internet when conducting and
sharing research between sites world wide.
1. Basmajian, John V. and De Luca,
Carlo J. Muscles Alive. 5th Edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1985.