Wearable technology holds the key to better performance

UH Case Medical Center, Cleveland Browns doctors to present findings at NFL Combine

Feb 25, 2016, 16:00 ET from University Hospitals Case Medical Center

CLEVELAND, Feb. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The ability to know your limitations is now a reality.

Sports medicine physicians have long looked for clues, subtleties and tendencies in their athletes trying to both prevent injury and maximize potential but until recently, have struggled how to quantify it all.

University Hospitals Sports Medicine physicians recently published a review article in the January issue of the multi-disciplinary scientific journal "Sports Health," outlining the usage of wearable technology in sports.

The development of wearable technology will likely serve as an invaluable tool that allows athletes, sports teams and physicians to monitor key metrics such as functional movements, athlete workloads and biometric markers. Such monitoring affords the individual wearing the technology the ability to maximize performance while minimizing injury.

The research was led by James Voos, MD, the Jack & Mary Herrick Director of Sports Medicine at University Hospitals and Head Team Physician of the Cleveland Browns who examined all forms of the technology from pedometers and accelerometers to global positioning devices.

Additionally, physiologic sensors that monitor heart rate, sleep and body temperature as well as other integrated sensors were reviewed. The purpose of the article was to familiarize team physicians as well as a wide array of health care professionals with the various types of wearable technology available, their utilization and potential future applications in sports medicine.

The sensor, half-dollar in size and shape, is worn during all aspects of training and physicians receive live feedback on a monitor as the athlete completes his workout. It allows the doctors and trainers to customize daily routines safely and effectively while avoiding potential injury and over-exertion.

"Wearable technology provides a method of monitoring real-time physiologic and movement parameters during training and competitive sports," said Dr. Voos, who is also Associate Professor of Orthpaedics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "These parameters can be used to detect position-specific patterns in movement, design more efficient sports-specific training programs for performance optimization, and screen for potential causes of injury."

Cleveland Browns Head Athletic Trainer Joe Sheehan is a co-author on the paper.  Sheehan has implemented the use of wearable technology during training with his athletes. Sheehan and Dr. Voos are using this technology to identify risk factors which will likely aid in preventing injury and assist both the team and individual athletes in maximizing their performance.

"Wearable technology represents a new frontier in the world of sports," said Sheehan. "We are extremely excited to partner with University Hospitals as we look to maximize the benefits of this new technology."

The UH Sports Medicine research team has identified key data points utilizing GPS sensor technology that are potential indicators for risk of injury throughout a typical season.

"We are very excited to be one of the first teams to publish scientific data on the use of wearable technology in professional football players. The end goal is to provide our athletes with a safe, predictive model for injury prevention," said Dr. Voos.  "This revolutionary research has been accepted for presentation at the NFL Physicians Society Annual Meeting at the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine in February in addition to five other UH Sports Medicine research studies."

The UH Sports Medicine research team is now in the process of initiating a study on male and female youth athletes to assess energy expenditure and injury rates using wearable technology devices.

"We are utilizing our experience with wearable technology devices in youth athletes across Northeast Ohio to promote a healthy sports participation environment," said Dr. Voos.

Additional members of the UH Sports Medicine research team and Cleveland Browns medical staff include, Michael J. Salata, MD and Sean A. Cupp, MD. Moving forward, Dr. Voos and Sheehan are excited to incorporate recently hired Adam Beard, Director of High Performance for the Cleveland Browns, in the pursuit of future projects surrounding sports performance with the Browns.

SOURCE University Hospitals Case Medical Center