Groundbreaking surveying technology to assist in the accurate identification and monitoring of scoliosis

A University of Newcastle (Australia) engineering researcher has been awarded for developing groundbreaking surveying technology, based on techniques used to measure and map land, to assist in the accurate identification and monitoring of scoliosis.

Dr Harvey Mitchell, Senior Lecturer in surveying from the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, won the award in the 'Extra Dimensions' category at the annual Institution of Surveyors NSW, 2004 Excellence in Surveying and Mapping Awards.

Working with medical clinicians in Canada, Dr Mitchell has developed surface shape analysis computer software, which is capable of accurately matching and comparing the back measurements of scoliosis patients.

Scoliosis causes a sideways curve in the spine and affects around 50 per cent of the population. Scoliosis generally does not require specific treatment. However, severe scoliosis can be progressive and treatment required.

Dr Mitchell says, "Monitoring the back shape of scoliotic patients at consecutive clinical visits, can be difficult. In some clinics, back shape measurement can be carried out, but comparisons must then be made visually."

"By applying techniques based on those used to measure and map land, mathematical measurements can be taken from three-dimensional surface maps to increase the accuracy in identifying any degeneration."

"We are looking towards the implementation of the computer software in Canada to assist the medical practitioners in the monitoring and treatment of scoliosis," says Dr Mitchell.

The automated matching is based on a mathematical surface mapping technique which has previously been used in a dental study, by Dr Mitchell and a team of researchers in the UK, to examine the relationship between tooth erosion and dietary behaviour in children.


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