Using Tech to Fight Sports Injuries

Technology is sweeping into every corner of soceity, and the sports industry is no exception. Scientists, doctors and engineers are constantly creating technology and methods to limit injury and or injury timespan. 

Darthmouth football has been at the forefront of sports science. Photo by Wikicommons

According to Industry Tap, a technology and engineering based online news service, “At a rapid rate, sports teams are using technology and emerging methods to improve injury prevention and recovery. In the global sports medicine market, which is anticipated to grow to $8.3 billion by 2019.”

In sports, injury is inevitable, on average there are, “12,500 injuries per year,” and “that number has been relatively consistent over the years,” says the Live Strong Foundation for healthy lifestyles. Therefore, the goal is not to rid sports of injuries, but rid it of long-term injury. 

At Pac-12 powerhouse Washington State University (WSU), the football program has invested in the latest technology to help train and care for athletes. For instance, hamstring injuries are common in athletes, WSU, has technology in place to increase the turn around speed on hamstring injuries.

Greg Hoyd, a junior defensive linemen at Washington State, experienced, what seemed to be major, hamstring injury, however technology at WSU sped up his recovery.

“I had a hamstring injury a year ago, and I was playing again in like a week, that’s usually a four week injury. They used the underwater treadmill, and hamstring lamp,” he said. Former 2007, college track and field runner, Jeff Sejour, experienced a hamstring injury in his career.

“For a hamstring to feel a hundred percent when I was playing, it would take at least six weeks,” he said.

WSU also addresses concussions in football.

"Washington state uses technology to help make the football players helmets as safe as possible. They use the helmet test to see how much impact a football player receives from a helmet-to-helmet hit. This helps players stay healthy so they can make the best out of each game of the season,” senior cornerback Treshon Broughton said. 

 Melvin Lewis, a former starting defensive end for Kentucky, and NFL prospect, suffered a knee injury in his career that was treated by Kentucky with Hydroworx Pool technology. 

“This pool is used for any injury that hinders you from walking and running. Machines such as the pool make recovering from injury twice as fast as previous decades. The Hydroworx is a pool with a treadmill in it and cameras for team doctors to watch your ankles/knees to see if they are moving fluently, and make adjustments if they aren’t,” Lewis said. 

Notre Dame provides the latest in treatment and drill technology to their athletes. Standout Notre Dame wide receiver, Equanemious St. Brown, said trainers often use, “laser treatment,” to treat injury, referring to low-level laser therapy, which is a fairly new method. 

 Also at Notre Dame, they utilize, “dummies that are controlled by a remote, similar to an RC car,” Brown said. The dummies Brown is referring to, are tackling dummies; their official name is Mobile Virtual Player (MVP). They are used for in practice tackling drills.  "(These dummies) allow you to tackle without making contact with another person, which is less stressful on the body,” according to Dartmouth University, defensive line coach, Duane Brooks. Dartmouth University graduate students created the Mobile Virtual Player, along with head coach Buddy Teevens.                         

Since the creation of the Mobile Virtual Player, over five years ago, it has taken off within the football world. “Notre Dame purchased four, and we have the Packers, Panthers, Cardinals, Steelers, Lions, and more. We have over 100 sold now,” Teevens said. The success of the, MVP, can be credited to Dartmouth football only having “one defensive concussion in two seasons,” Teevens said. Dartmouth’s injury rate in totality, “dropped 80%,” since they implemented the MVP.