Current medical imaging technology misses important data regarding muscle contraction, including the ways in which a muscle's shape changes when it contracts, how the muscle bulges, and how its internal fibers become more curved ... or at least, so Simon Fraser University (SFU)'s associate professor James Wakeling tells us. In order to remedy that situation, he has developed a new method of imaging contracting muscles, that he claims should allow researchers to observe never-before-seen details of muscle activation.

The system combines ultrasound imaging, 3D motion-capture technology and - most importantly - proprietary data-processing software. Together, these technologies are able to scan and capture three-dimensional maps of muscle tissue within just 90 seconds. Conventional methods take up to 15 minutes to do the same thing, which is too long to expect a test subject to be able to hold a contraction.

Wakeling hopes that the SFU system could be used to improve muscle models used in musculoskeletal simulation software, particularly as it applies to predicting the outcome of orthopedic surgeries such as tendon transfers in children with cerebral palsy.