The Faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences at UHasselt can now use the high-tech movement lab GRAIL. The lab consists of an advanced treadmill with a platform that measures step strength, among other things, a screen on which a virtual environment is projected, and numerous cameras that meticulously record and analyze the subject's balance and every movement. "With GRAIL, we can simulate lifelike situations, allowing us to research and develop new rehabilitation techniques for all kinds of patient populations," says Prof. Pieter Meyns, coordinator of the movement lab.
GRAIL - which stands for 'Gait Real-time Analysis Interactive Lab' - contains an advanced treadmill consisting of two separate step surfaces, allowing lin k and right foot to move at different rates. The treadmill can not only move uphill, downhill or sideways, but also simulate tripping, for example.
"Particularly interesting for our research, because in this way we can start to make sudden disturbances in our patients' walking trajectory and we can see what happens when the patient loses balance for a moment, for example," Meyns explains. "That way you find out a lot of interesting things that you can use to develop new rehabilitation pathways for specific patient groups."
After UZ Gent, UHasselt is the second institution in Flanders to have a GRAIL movement lab. "In addition to our own research projects, we will also work with UZ Gent on motion analysis and new rehabilitation applications within all kinds of patient populations," Meyns said. "We are thinking of children with developmental disabilities, individuals with MS or people with low back pain who would benefit from very specific rehabilitation exercises."
Furthermore, UHasselt wants to use the infrastructure for services through the RELAB platform and research collaborations with external partners, such as sports shoe manufacturers and orthopedic producers, or pharmaceutical companies. Collaborations with local hospitals for research and clinical applications for patients are also among the possibilities.