Iowa City Press-Citizen and National Associated Press: http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/education/university-of-iowa/2016/02/15/uis-virtual-solider-program-help-prevent-injuries/80423478/
Medical Design Technology: http://www.mdtmag.com/news/2016/02/simulation-program-predict-and-prevent-injuries-us-marines
The Virtual Soldier Research Program at the University of Iowa has been awarded a $2.6 million grant from the Office of Naval Research to create a simulation program to predict and prevent musculoskeletal injuries in U.S. Marines – one of the leading medical problems hampering military readiness.
Using UI’s virtual human model, named Santos®, the researchers will develop software allowing the U.S. Marines to use an individual soldier’s characteristics -- such as height, weight, strength and aerobic capacity -- to complete virtual simulations in different training environments. The program then will accurately predict injuries and recommend training modifications based on the individual soldier and activity.
"Typically you would have to test hundreds of Marines to get that kind of data,” says Kevin Kregel, UI professor of human physiology and co-principal investigator on the project. “Using our innovative approach, we can do the modeling and predictions by testing a lot fewer human subjects, saving money and time.”
Santos® and his female counterpart, Sophia, are part of the UI’s Virtual Soldier Research Program, established in 2003 by Karim Abdel-Malek, professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering and principal investigator on the project.
Since the program’s inception, Santos® and Sophia have attracted partnerships with U.S. military and private industry, generating $38 million in external research funding for UI.
“Being at the University of Iowa is wonderful because we have an amazing pool of talent and very high ethics of work,” Abdel-Malek says. “Our history of partnering with the U.S. military is evidence that they trust our work, and continue to build upon the Santos® capabilities.”
The Virtual Soldier Research team for this project includes Abdel-Malek; Kregel; Jasbir Arora, professor of civil, environmental and mechanical engineering; Rajan Bhatt, associate director of VSR; and Landon Evans, assistant strength and conditioning coach for UI Olympic Sports. For the first time, this interdisciplinary group will give Santos® and Sophia new capabilities in strength and conditioning, such as the ability to grow stronger over time or to experience less muscle weakness with sustained activity.
“With these individualized simulations, the soldiers can become more resilient because we know that if they can mitigate themselves against the risk factors of training, the likelihood of reducing injuries increases,” Evans says.