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Force Plate Measurement System for Physiotherapy using NI Hardware

*As Featured on NI.com

Original Authors: Karina Taylor, EnvisEng Pty Ltd

Edited by Cyth Systems

Force plate in use at St. Vincent hospital's physiotherapy uses NI CompactDAQ and LabVIEW to acquire pressure data.
Force plate in use at St. Vincent hospital's physiotherapy uses NI CompactDAQ and LabVIEW to acquire pressure data.

The Challenge

EnvisEng set out to provide a system that consistently measures and analyses human balance on one leg to assess the progress of patients under their rehabilitation treatments to regain mobility.


The Solution

Utilizing NI’s compact and modular CompactDAQ platform, EnvisEng delivered a custom-built hardware and software analysis system to St Vincent’s Hospital Physiotherapy Department at a lower price point than any off-the-shelf force plate measurement system.


EnvisEng is an NI Partner in Sydney, Australia, that specializes in scientific and medical applications of LabVIEW-based data monitoring, analysis, and control. The founder of the company is a Certified LabVIEW Architect, a Certified Professional Instructor, a physicist, and an electrical engineer with many years of experience in project management and software development.

The Musculoskeletal Outpatient Physiotherapy Department at St Vincent’s Hospital provides rehabilitation treatments to its patients. Physical therapists needed a method of consistently measuring human balance on one leg, over multiple physiotherapy sessions, to assess patients’ responses to their prescribed exercise programs. Off-the-shelf force plate measurement systems were prohibitively expensive to St Vincent’s Hospital, which needed only a subset of the features in these systems. St Vincent’s had a small but specific list of requirements that could easily be met using a simple NI data acquisition solution.

Left: Force Plate System in Use at the Hospital, Right: LabVIEW user interface giving balance monitoring feedback of the force-plate sensor in real-time.


Application Overview

EnvisEng designed and built a custom hardware and software analysis system for St Vincent’s Hospital using the NI cDAQ-9181 single-slot Ethernet chassis with an NI 9237 four-channel bridge/strain measurement module. This compact, Ethernet-connected DAQ product provided the most simple, accurate, and cost-effective solution for the customer.

The 750 x 750 mm force plate itself was fabricated out of steel. A load cell was placed in each of the four corners of the force plate. The top plate that the patient stands on was covered with a non-slip flooring laminate for safety and aesthetics.

The NI data acquisition hardware and power supply were housed in an electrically safe enclosure adjacent to the instrument, which was connected to the main power and monitoring PC via Ethernet. The whole setup is like an accurate, industrialized Wii-fit-style balance board.


Original Authors:

Karina Taylor, EnvisEng Pty Ltd

Edited by Cyth Systems




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