Biomechanics rock Calgary

By Bonnie Leung

The University of Calgary Faculty of Kinesiology is sponsoring the xvii Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics. Taking place Aug. 8–13 at the Telus Convention Centre, the congress will explore issues including muscles and bones, sports, aging, and posture. Biomechanics is the examination of forces that act on and in the human body.

According to Director of the U of C Human Performance Laboratory and Congress Organizing Committee Chair Dr. Benno Nigg, the conference is being held in Calgary because U of C offered to organize it.

"Biomechanics is a very important aspect of the U of C," he said. "And the field has been defined by the U of C. Internationally, Calgary is one of the strongest places in the world in the field of biomechanics."

Nigg hopes this conference will accomplish two things.

"The first thing we want to do is to serve the national biomechanics community," said Nigg. "The second one is that the biomechanics community sees Calgary and the fantastic research that’s going on in Calgary. We organized the conference to help the international biomechanics community to meet and exchange ideas."

Congress speaker and former U of C researcher Dr. Jack Engsberg believes the congress is the fastest way to exchange current research.

"Any publication that you’ll read is, at minimum, a year and a half year old," he said. "So [at the conference] you find out exactly what the people in the area are doing right now."

Five main topics will be discussed at the conference. The topics include locomotion (the study of human movement), clinical rehabilitation (cases of hindered movement), orthopedics (which include bones, tendons, and ligaments), sports, and muscle.

"It’s four parallel sessions," said Nigg. "The topics are used at different days. You are working in one area, but you go to another area to listen."

There will be one keynote lecture per day, with a total of 30 invited speakers. Fourteen awards will be presented on Thursday.

"[The awards are] a competition between the participants and there are certain rules and guidelines," said Nigg. "In some cases, the winner has been chosen and in some the winner will be decided Thursday night. It depends on the research they present."

Funding for the conference is paid mostly by the participants’ registration fees.

"In addition to that, we have about 15–20 per cent from industry," said Nigg. "And about five per cent from grant agencies, such as the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, the Whitaker Foundation and the National Science and Engineering Research Council Canada."

Engsberg feels the conference will be a success.

"It’s only the first day," he said on Monday. "But to this point it’s been very good. The opening ceremonies were very nice."

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