See your spine move in real-time motion at AECC

The Centre for Biomechanics Research (CBR) seek volunteers for their latest research study, find out more about how you can get involved.  

Message from CBR Studies

We are currently looking for volunteers to help us with our latest piece of research into understanding the back in motion. We need over 100 volunteers to come forward to take part over the next few months to ensure the project is a success so we can establish a database of spine mechanics of the low back in healthy adults. This is the biggest study of its kind and those who volunteer for this research study will get the chance to see their spine move in real-time and get a free DVD of their spine motion. At this stage, we are focusing our recruitment for a sub study in which we need 15 female volunteers to take part.

Who are we looking for?

For this research study, we are looking for females who:

  • are over 30 and under 70 years of age
  • have not had low back pain that has prevented normal activity for at least 1 day in the past year
  • have not had an abdominal/pelvic/lumbar spine surgery in the past 2 years

What will I need to do?

You will be needed for around 1.5 hours. For this study, you will be asked to complete 2 forward and 2 backward bending tasks. First you will be asked to lie on your side on a motion table. The upper half of the table will swing slowly forward and back and fluoroscopic images (video x-rays) will be taken, showing the movement of your vertebrae as you bend. Then you will be asked to move to an upright motion table and stand against it. Again, the table will slowly move while you bend, following a moving arm rest, while the fluoroscopic images  are taken simultaneously.

Before we take the fluoroscopic images, we will find the range of bending that you are comfortable with. After the lying down part of the fluoroscopy procedure, you will also be instrumented with 3 motion sensors and reflective markers. These will be attached with hypoallergenic tape on your back between the bottom of your ribcage and the beltline. You will then complete the standing up part of the fluoroscopy study, during which your back motion will also be measured with both the video x-ray and the sensors on your back.

After all the imaging is over, we will ask you to perform some simple forward and backward bending tasks without fluoroscopy - to calibrate the motion sensor and reflective marker systems. After this we will gently remove the tape from your back and you will be free to go. After the study you will also be able to receive your own free DVD of your spine in motion.

Next steps

If you are interested in being involved in this project please download the pre-study form here. You can also learn more through the participant information booklet here.
For any questions, please contact us at

The Background:

Through establishing an understanding of normative spine kinematics, improvements in the diagnosis and management of low back pain could be developed. Treatments for low back pain are often based on improving the functional mechanics of the spine, which is reflected in the patterns of inter-vertebral motion. However, until now it has been impossible to measure these in living people accurately without invasive procedures. This study will use a novel and innovative diagnostic x-ray technology called Quantitative Fluoroscopy (QF) developed at the AECC.

Further, through an international collaboration with the Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada) and Bournemouth University, the AECC Centre for Biomechanics Research is investigating whether skin markers, usually used to measure gross spine movements (motion sensors and reflective markers), can also be used to measure intervertebral kinematics as measured in QF. This study known as the “Back Motion Study” would not only allow us to make a diagnosis without specialist fluoroscopy equipment and would provide a cheaper alternative to QF.

This study has received a favourable ethical opinion from HRA South West - Central Bristol Research Ethics Committee. REC reference: 10/H0106/65.