New Technology Scans Whole-Body Posture in Seconds

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Non-radiographic spinal analysis provides rapid assessments of the entire body’s posture—without the potential negative effects of X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans.

Poor posture can cause a variety of health issues that can affect quality of life. Fortunately, anyone with posture issues can benefit from spinal analysis. Concerns about X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans can be alleviated with this non-radiographic technology, which incorporates a special camera and image processing software using AI-enhanced reporting. Posture and balance often decline as we age, leading to instability and falling. With this new technology, quickly evaluating posture early on could significantly change this dynamic.

New Posture Analysis Technology

The impact of poor posture on health and productivity is of national concern. Recent studies show a continued increase in musculoskeletal problems, mostly in the neck, shoulders, and lower back, related to poor posture, particularly from smartphone use.

In January, a new non-radiographic spinal analysis technology was introduced in the United States. Manufactured by Moti Physio, it uses a four-dimensional—red, green, blue, and depth (RGB-D) camera sensor along with interpretation from an AI database of over 370,000 spinal scans.

Julia Worrall, a medical practitioner specializing in craniofacial posture-related issues, is chief executive officer of 360° Health International, the healthcare group promoting this device in the United States. In my interview with her, Ms. Worrall revealed that “this is state-of-the-art non-radiographic technology that provides rapid assessments of the entire body’s posture. By integrating the Moti Physio into regular health assessments, we are not only addressing a prevalent health issue but also mitigating its substantial economic repercussions.”

Posture analysis equipment in the office.<br/>(J Worrall/360⁰ Health International)
Posture analysis equipment in the office.
(J Worrall/360⁰ Health International)
Early studies using RGBD technology show excellent intra-rater (repeated multiple scans) reliability, particularly for impaired or altered musculoskeletal, nervous, and lymphatic system functions.
Raster stereography scanning was introduced in 1996 as a radiation-free surface topography measurement that enables a 3D reconstruction of the spine. Because it measures variations in lines projected on the back, there are some limitations to frontal and side scans when imaging scoliosis patients. Further investigations and standard variance ranges need to be established for clinical use.

Benefits of RGB-D Posture Analysis

By focusing on posture and balance as part of routine screenings, practitioners can help decrease the incidence of falls and injury. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention records, about 36 million falls are reported among older adults each year, resulting in more than 32,000 deaths. Fear of falling as age and balance issues increase significantly impacts the quality of life. This fear keeps people from going out, participating in activities, and enjoying life with others.

According to Ms. Worrall, this new RGB-D posture assessment technology has the following benefits:

  • Non-radiographic
  • Patient remains clothed
  • Immediate understandable results while the patient is with the practitioner
  • A treatment plan can be designed on the first visit
  • Multiple scans show the effectiveness of treatment over time
  • Positive outcomes when a patient understands results and is involved in their treatment plan
  • Used by a diverse range of practitioners such as chiropractors, physical therapists, dentists, balance specialists, and fitness coaches
  • Excellent correlation with spinal X-ray images

Posture Defined

Posturology is the scientific and clinical discipline that studies posture from three perspectives: neurophysiological, biomechanical, and psychosomatic.

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The purpose of posture is to maintain equilibrium in both static and dynamic conditions while remaining upright against gravity. This is possible due to the interaction between the muscular and skeletal systems. Good posture helps keep bones and joints aligned properly. Correct spinal position decreases muscle fatigue and back pain while minimizing stress and strain on the spinal cord and nervous system, allowing for healthy bodily functions.

Many factors can directly affect an individual’s posture. These include gravity, genetics, occupation, lifestyle habits, activity levels, trauma, and chronic disorders such as scoliosis.

Trauma includes micro-events like repetitive habits, sleep positions, and how we sit at a computer or work on a smartphone. There are also macro events like falls, sports injuries, and accidents. Both types of trauma impact spinal alignment.

Poor posture can cause complications such as back pain, spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration, rounded shoulders, headaches, and a potbelly. The asymmetric imbalance it causes impacts the body’s muscular function and balance.

Connection Between Posture and Balance

Posture is the beginning and ending of any bodily movement. Balance is activated when there is a change in standing posture. The two are closely integrated—thus, a change in one affects a change in the other. Balance is necessary to maintain equilibrium during any movement.

The cerebellum manages both posture and balance. A weakness in posture indicates a neuromuscular imbalance. Balance is based on information from the central nervous system, which triggers an appropriate motor response aimed at restoring posture.

Two recent interesting studies indicate that the tongue and the jaw can each influence body posture. One hundred sixteen healthy adults were challenged by standing on an unstable surface with their eyes closed. Results showed that the tongue’s position against the upper incisors enhanced the postural stability and balance compared to the normal resting tongue position. Jaw position, especially clenching the jaw, similarly increased stability and balance.

Balance Defined

Balance is defined as the ability of the body to maintain the line of gravity with minimal postural sway.

To maintain balance, the central nervous system must coordinate multiple sensory channels, including vestibular sensations from the inner ear, vision, and tactile sensations, especially from the soles of the feet. Posture, body position, and awareness of the spatial location and movement of leg muscles, as well as the position of the head in relation to the trunk, also help to restore balance.

A literature review by UCLA Health found that balance issues may begin around age 50. Using the unassisted one-legged test, adults younger than 50 could stand on one leg for one minute or more. At age 50, the time was 45 seconds, and at 70, 28 seconds. By 80 and older, they lasted less than 12 seconds.

Balance Disorders

Balance can be affected by multiple factors that decrease strength and mobility or change the ability to walk and stand upright. According to Harvard Health, these factors include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Medications
  • Inner ear infection
  • Head injury or other central nervous system issues such as stroke
  • Tumors
  • Diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Other factors that can impact balance:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Knee or other joint problems
  • Back pain
  • Weight changes
  • Gait abnormality
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Lack of sleep

Symptoms of balance disorders include:

  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Unexplained fainting
  • Falling or feeling like you are going to fall
  • Staggering when trying to walk
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Emotions such as fear, anxiety, panic

Treatments Without Medication

Balance, strength, and endurance are essential for maintaining good posture. Attention to diet and exercise can significantly help.

A healthy diet that benefits the nervous system includes vitamins C, D, E, and the B group, along with minerals such as magnesium, zinc, iron, iodine, and selenium, as well as amino acids, including tryptophan and phenylalanine.
For muscle health, include carbohydrates and protein like lean meat, fish, eggs, whole grains, and beans.
To support a strong skeletal system, include calcium, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and potassium.

Gentle exercises, such as yoga and Pilates, for 30 minutes a day can help strengthen back, shoulder, and stomach muscles.

Stimulation of the deep peroneal nerve in the foot can help with peripheral neuropathy. This nerve is responsible for firing the little muscles in the foot, ankle, and lower leg that help prevent falling. This stimulation can be done daily at home using a “spiky ball” by rotating it on the sole of the foot. This stimulates the peroneal nerve to wake up, strengthens ankles and feet, and improves stability when walking.

Risks and Concerns

There are some drawbacks to the raster stereography method. Studies indicate that further evaluation of reliability is necessary. Standardized reference values are also needed to indicate postural change.

Radiographic testing is highly accurate when used for initial spinal evaluation but is not suitable for continuous evaluations due to radiation overexposure or cost concerns.

Since RGB-D posture analysis is newly available, continuously evaluating posture scans to add to the database will increase the validity and reliability of this new technology.

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