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St Mary’s University extends the use of affordable PASCO force platforms by integrating them throughout their Undergraduate and Postgraduate Sports degrees*

St Mary’s University extends the use of affordable PASCO force platforms by integrating them throughout their Undergraduate and Postgraduate Sports degrees*. Whilst complementing existing lab equipment, PASCO force plates support the freedom to capture data in a range of applications both in the lab and in remote locations, and offer their students an unrivalled introduction to the study and understanding of force plate data.

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St Mary’s University is located in Twickenham in South West London, and boasts a rich history with Sport, in addition to having an extensive partner network with professional sports teams. In 2007, the University created the UK’s first undergraduate Strength and Conditioning (S&C) degree and is now internationally recognised as a leading S&C education provider.

St Mary’s has outstanding teaching facilities for their Sports degrees, and has invested significantly in industry-leading Kistler force platforms. However, exceptional data comes at exceptional prices, and student-to-equipment ratios did not support a uniform teaching delivery. Furthermore, force plate data was limited to what they could collect in the lab as Kistler platforms are embedded within the floor, and despite having a portable Kistler plate, its manoeuvrability is hindered owing to its large size and mass. This fuelled the search for a more affordable, lightweight, portable force platform. With a price that is orders of magnitude cheaper than the Kistler system, and with an established presence in peer-reviewed journals, the PASCO force platform was a clear choice for St Mary’s.

Before committing to a purchase, St Mary’s wanted to trial the equipment to ensure that it would be fit for purpose, and scope precisely what teaching content they could cover with the kit. SciChem facilitated a free trial which allowed the University to make an informed decision, and provide complete confidence in allocating funds.

With a suite of PASCO force platforms, St Mary’s can now deliver more efficient laboratory classes where all students are using the same kit simultaneously. The plug-and-play nature of the equipment and the intuitive software meant that the equipment could be implemented quickly within the labs, and both students and staff find the system easy to use. The portability of the platforms offers the freedom to collect data anywhere, both in the lab and externally – which is ideal for the MSc S&C students who are often based remotely. PASCO plates are so affordable that it is commonplace for the MSc students to have a pair for their independent research projects: two force platforms are favoured to allow for bilateral asymmetry assessment, by placing two plates side by side. Many professional sports clubs are using the PASCO system for their own S&C activity, and exposure to this technology at University level offers valuable employability skills.

“My favourite feature of the PASCO platforms is the screw feet – the threaded holes on the underside of the plates means that you can bolt them to anything. I’ve created several rigs for the plates to study force data within lots of applications, such as scrumming, rowing, punching and kicking. I’ve also been able to synchronise PASCO data with other external data streams through using the voltage sensor input in the SPARKlink interface. For example, we are able to integrate our Vicon motion capture system using a 5 V square signal TTL trigger – this voltage is also picked up by the SPARKlink and allows me to temporally sync data streams together. A basic circuit with an LED also lets us sync with 2D video capture, and the combined voltage and LED use allows us to synchronise the plates with almost any other (analogue) equipment within our laboratory. The versatility that PASCO offers us in experimental design is astounding, and at such a low cost the PASCO plates are excellent value for money. SciChem have been incredible and very forthcoming, and supported us at all stages of our investment.” – Jack Lineham BSc (Hons), Lecturer and Technician – Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at St Mary’s University

The sturdy, glass-filled nylon platform is supported by four force beams that measure the total force acting on the platform. You can use the Force Platform to measure the static weight of a structure or person, as well as the dynamic, vertical force created when moving or jumping. The platform can be placed on a floor or tabletop to measure vertical force, and mounted to a wall to measure horizontal force. Explore the PASCO Force Platform here.

*Sport & Exercise Science BSc, Sport Rehabilitation BSc & MSc, Physiotherapy BSc & MSc, Strength & Conditioning Science BSc, Strength & Conditioning (Distance Learning) MSc, Applied Strength & Conditioning Science MSc & Biomechanics MSc