From wearable technology, like watches and sensors, to improvements in techniques and safety
equipment, like helmets and clothes, technology to keep athletes safe is always improving.
While there is tech out there that can be worn like skin and powered by sweat, according to the website Medgadget, technology is not the only thing that has improved over the years.
“The best technological advances is the people,” Jon Mitchell, the director of athletic training, said. “That might sound crazy to you guys because you're going to think computers and stems and modalities and all that stuff but I’m just going to say staffing.”
The technological advances that Mitchell sees are the ways in which athletes can communicate now, especially with an app called Siren MD. Mitchell said that the app allows for all of the student-athletes to be in the app and its is easy to tail an injury through the process of recovery.
Matthew Rogatzki, Ph.D in exercise physiology, has done research to look for biomarkers in blood that could signal a concussion. Rogatzki did his first study on a JV football team that involved taking blood.
Other technological advances help researchers and athletic trainers collect data and monitor the hits players are taking especially when it comes to football.
“I looked at two different proteins in the blood before the game and then after the game. I was hoping that somebody would have a concussion but nobody did,” Rogatzki said. “I could look at the data and see if it was indicating subconcussion injury.”
Rogatzki found that the protein did go up, but no more than it would be any other exercise. He did the test again but still found it was more of an exercise level of rising and not number of hits players were experiencing.
He hopes that his research will eventually lead to athletes being tested for a concussion with just a prick of the finger.
“The new technology that is coming out, and that we have, that assesses impacts to the head. So mouthguards that assess impacts, there's skull caps, there’s helmets that assess impacts,” Rogatzki said. “Those are beneficial simply because they are another set of eyes on the field.”
Maggie Berkowitz, head athletic trainer for the cross country team and women’s soccer, also believes that advancements in concussion based testing has been one of the major improvements.
She said that just in the past five years, the transition from the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 3 to the SCAT 5 has been huge.
Another big tool that is helpful to Maggie is a blood flow restriction training. BFR works by placing a cuff, on the thigh or upper arm depending on injury, to restrict the blood flow, according to an article on Sports Illustrated.
The person then does sets of exercises with a very light amount of weight. The mind believes that the body is working much harder than it is because of the blood supply being cut off. It triggers a response to begin repairing the area below the cuff.
Even with all the technological advances out there, Mitchell said that the top two things that help are sleep and eating right.
“You control those two things, it’s going to change everything up,” Mitchell said.
Photo Credit: Moss Brennan, Owens Recovery Science