A fractal analysis of human locomotion in water

Project Number
RI 11/13 TB

Project Duration
May 2014 - November 2016


The main aim of this research is to investigate the fractal properties of human locomotion in water. Fractal analysis has recently been applied to study a wide range of objects/systems in Biology and Medicine. This approach has been carried out to study locomotion of several specimens including fishes and even human gait on land. To the best of our knowledge fractal research was never attempted before with human locomotion in water. Human’s swimming patterns are highly complex and cannot be characterized only with the tools of classical kinematics, as they may exhibit nonlinear properties, such as persistence, redundancy and scale invariance. Since human swimming is a non-linear behavior, new tools as the fractal analysis can be a useful approach. A local and overseas research team will be assembled to develop this research project. Local team (from NIE-NTU) will include as PI one of the international leading researchers about aquatic locomotion and swimming. As co-PIs, two researchers with a large expertise on biomechanics and locomotion. Overseas team will comprise international recognized researchers from different counties and continents (i.e, US and Portugal) with research interest on the topic of locomotion and/or swimming. The main objective of this research is to investigate the fractal properties of human locomotion in water. The following research questions will be addressed: i) Does human locomotion in water presents fractal properties? ii) What are the differences in the fractal properties of the four main human locomotion techniques in water (i.e., swimming strokes: front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly stroke)? iii) What are the differences in the fractal properties of subjects with different expertise levels (i.e. highlyexperts vs expert vs non-expert swimmers)? iv) Are the fractal properties of human locomotion in water affected by fatigue? A speedo-meter cable will be attached to the swimmer’s hip. The speedo-meter is placed on the forehead-wall of the swimming pool, about 0.2 m above water surface. Bio-signal is acquired on-line at a sampling rate of 50Hz. A LabVIEW® (v. 2009) software’s interface is used to acquire, display and process pair wises speed-time data on-line during the trials. The box-counting method will be adopted to compute the fractal characteristics of the human swimming from the speed-time graph with specific software.

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