Human-Performance-Lab-TreadmillThe Human Performance Laboratory (HPL) at Des Moines University is located on the 8th floor of the Des Moines University Clinic at 3200 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa, and it is functioning in its current form since 2001. The laboratory staff participates in scientific research in addition to teaching and service activities.

Mission Statement: The human performance laboratory is a state-of-the-art research, education, and service facility of Des Moines University. The mission of the HPL is to ascertain, publish, and put into practice knowledge in the field of biomechanics of human movement. The HPL is committed to serving the faculty and students of DMU, the local community, as well as the broad scientific community.

HPL Overview: Instrumentation and computing resources in the HPL allow for multiple configurations of six main data collection systems. The laboratory has: Four AMTI force platforms three of which are embedded in a floor raised walkway, the fourth is portable for on-site data collection; An AMTI on force plate mounted 3 step stair system; A 16 channel preamp telemetry Motion Labs, Inc. EMG system; A Tekscan in-shoe and platform plantar pressure measurement system; and A ten high-resolution camera Motion Analysis Inc. motion capture system. The HPL computers and electronic peripherals allow for synchronous measurements from the above systems.


  • Julian Rivera, BSc; Research Assistant


  • Jim Choi, MD
  • Craig Mahoney, MD
  • John Nettrour, MD

Current Research

The research conducted at the Human Performance Laboratory focuses on the structure and function of the human body by means of mechanics. The specific area of research “Biomechanics” requires expertise from a number of other disciplines: Anatomy, Physics, Engineering, Medicine, Rehabilitation, Orthopedics, Sports Sciences, and others.

Sample Recent and Current Projects:

  • “Comparison of Outcomes Following Total Hip Arthroplasty: Anterior vs. Posterior Minimal Invasive Techniques” Vardaxis, V.; Covill, L.; Mahoney, G.; Nettrour, J.
    It is the intent of this project to evaluate the short and long-term functional performance, physical activity level, health status, radiographic outcomes and physical outcomes of toat hip arthroplasty (THA) patients receiving total hips through one of two commonly used MIS either the posterolateral (PLA) or direct anterior (DAA) surgical procedures and contrast these measures to those of a gender and age matched control group.  The functional performance evaluation will include objective assessment of everyday activities (walking, balance, curb - step up and down, stair ascend/descend, and sit-to-stand), the physical activity level will include assessment of the everyday activity maintained (using portable wearable activity monitors), the health status assessment will be done using patient-reported and physician completed survey tools (WOMAC and Harris Hip Score, respectively), radiographic outcomes will be assessed using measures from the pre and post-surgery X-rays, and the physical outcomes will be assessed by a licensed physical therapist (manual muscle strength and ROM).
  • “Using Ultrasound Imaging to Assess the Lisfranc Ligament Role in the Foot.” Vardaxis, V.; Frush, K.; Graves, N.; Rettedal, D.; Marshall, J.; Ibrahim, N.; Ryba, D.; Jaramillo, T; Choi, J.
    The purpose of this study is to assess the dorsal Lisfranc ligament strain under clinically relevant loads, assess its bilateral symmetry in structure and function to relate it to using the opposite side for control purposes, evaluate the reliability of measurement using ultrasound imaging and assess gender differences in the function of the Lisfranc Ligament.
  • “Effect of Low Dye Taping on Arch Deformation of the foot.” Yoho, R.; Rivera, J.; Renschler, R.; Vardaxis, V.; Dikis, J.
    The purpose of this study is to determine at what point in time the Low-Dye taping loses its ability to control the arch deformation after its application.
  • “The Association of the Metatarsus Adductus angle with the Jones Fracture and its healing process.” Yoho, R.; Carrington, S.; Dix, B.; Vardaxis, V.
    The purpose of this study is to seek for potential differences between individuals with proximal fifth metatarsal “Jones Fracture” and controls in the metatarsus adductus angle (MAA) and investigate the effect of the MAA on the time to heel.
  • “The flexion-rotation test performed actively and passively: a comparison of range of motion in patients with cervicogenic headache.” Petersen, S.; Vardaxis, V.
    The purpose of this study was to compare ROM during the active and passive flexion rotation test in patients with cervicogenic headache and asymptomatic participants and to determine if the active test can be used to identify side-to-side differences in ROM in patients.
  • “Neutral Position of the Subtalar Joint During Gait Using 3-D Motion Analysis” Mahoney, J.; So, E.; Renner, K.; Puccinelli, A.; Vardaxis, V.
    To further understand the function of the subtalar Joint during gait, we compared the average subtalar 3-D position during the midstance of gait at self-selected and fast walking speeds to various clinically identified subtalar joint neutral positions weight and not-weight bearing.

Research Posters

  • Education in the HPL
    All Physical Therapy and Podiatric Medicine students have laboratory experiences in the Human Performance Laboratory. These experiences are designed to enhance their understanding and observational skills of healthy and pathological human movement. Observational movement analysis skills are taught and the computerized system is used as the objective gold standard the students’ observations are contrasted against. This process augment’s the subjective expert/experience based ability of the student of evaluate movement deficits and assists in the development of this valuable skill earlier in their clinical career.
  • Student research mentorship in the HPL.
    Multiple students from the three DMU colleges, as well as, undergraduates participate in student research experiences in the HPL. These students take research elective courses; participate in various HPL funded projects and/or in the DMUs student research mentorship program; or undertake optional clinical rotations in the lab.

Student Research Opportunities

Multiple forms of research opportunities are available all year round in the HPL. Interested students can get in contact directly with the HPL director or via the Des Moines University Research Office.  More information.

Service in the HPL:

The Human Performance Lab combines diagnostics and expert assessment to evaluate and treat human movement deficits and physical conditions. The lab uses computerized motion analysis to assess movement problems related to muscles, joints and nerves. More information.

In collaboration with Iowa industry the HPL has been providing services in detail product analysis aiming at better understanding of sitting and workspace/workstation mechanics for industry office product enhancement needs. Three-dimensional analysis and mathematical models are used to measure body segmental position orientation, muscle function and joint load during office space related activities.

Scroll to Top