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Local Therapist Uses Motion Capture App to Help Athletes

Spine & Sport's Fred Shonkwiler's job is made easier by some new technology that tracks athletes' movements.
(ST. JOSEPH) An injury to an athlete is something no one likes to see, but the truth is: it does happen. 

However, some budding technology is making the job easier. The mobile device movement has given birth to motion capture apps, like Spark Motion, which help physical therapists like Spine & Sport's Fred Shonkwiler track parts of an athlete's body post-injury.

"The athlete, the parent, the coach, it slows it down and lets them see it," Shonkwiler said. "It makes it much more fun as well because you they can see what they're working toward rather than just trying to tell somebody."

"It's really allowed us to slow the motion down. When you're working with athletes at high speeds, it's sometimes faster than you pick up with your eyes. Maybe I test them early on and I see an angle that shows some instability. Then I work with them for three or four weeks and we go back to the video and put it frame by frame right next to each other to show the improvement."

Shonkwiler has used this technology to help former Missouri Western football standouts Greg Zuerlein and David bass and former Missouri tight end Martin Rucker, but he gets his share of high school clients as well. Central sophomore Maggie Lawrence injured her knee playing volleyball this fall and is trying to make it back for the second half of the Lady Indians' basketball season.

But she's never been examined quite like this.

"He kind of dumbs it down for me so I know what's what, then helps show me that what we're doing is helping me get better," she said. "I can see my progress." 

"There is that nervousness, but he's reassured me that what I'm doing is going to help me in the future."

"If you're post-ACL or post-ankle sprain, now, when you're going back on the court, you can have more confidence that you're not going to re-injure it." 

There are several levels of motion capture apps available to any with an iPad. The Spark Motion Pro version is listed at $5.99 per month. 
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