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System can improve exercise routines

Don Petersen, of Mitchell, works out with a movement analysis system Friday at the Mitchell Recreation Center. The system, essentially two cameras hooked to a laptop equipped with special software, was paid for by Avera Queen of Peace Hospital as a result of a partnership the hospital formed with the city last year. (Chris Mueller/Republic)

The Mitchell Recreation Center and Avera Queen of Peace Hospital are seeing the benefit of a partnership they formed last year — and they’re seeing it in slow motion.

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A movement analysis system, known as Dartfish, allows trainers to put anyone, athletes and non-athletes, through a series of exercises and then, using two cameras connected to a laptop, review the exercises frame-by-frame to spot any inefficiencies or imperfections in their movement.

One such system is available to any member at the Recreation Center, while another is shared between Avera’s Acceleration program and Avera’s University Physical Therapy, both in Mitchell. Avera paid for both systems at a total cost of about $7,500, plus another $8,400 to train more than 20 people — trainers and physical therapists — to use the system, according to Thomas Gulledge, the Recreation Center’s fitness coordinator.

“It’s definitely something we’ve never seen in Mitchell,” Gulledge said.

The system can be used to help athletes examine in great detail the way their body moves, and spot any problems that may hamper their performance.

“We have to make sure their form is right and make sure they understand what they’re trying to do too,” Gulledge said.

The process of being screened with the system can take less than 10 minutes, said Gulledge, who has performed more than 50 screens in the past four weeks.

Non-athletes could also benefit from the feedback the system provides, Gulledge said.

“If you don’t exercise the right way and you’re not doing things safely, then you’re putting yourself at a high risk for injury,” he said. “Not only that, but you’re not going to see the results you’re looking for.”

For trainers, the system could prove to be an extremely useful tool, Gulledge said.

“I can’t miss anything because you can slow it down millisecond to millisecond,” he said.

The partnership between the city and Avera began with some controversy when the city’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry Board initially chose to partner with Avera’s competitor, Sanford Health. The board changed course and went with Avera, which is more well-established in Mitchell, after input from city officials, including Mayor Ken Tracy.

“It’s been very good, the partnership,” said Scott Houwman, Avera’s performance and outreach coordinator. “I think it’s really productive forus to partner up when things are for the community’s benefit.”

Gulledge said the partnership, though brief, has already proved productive.

“Combined programming is always going to be good for both the fitness and the health care industries,” he said.