Technology on the Sideline – Player and Injury Management

I’ve read some interesting articles lately, and certainly the buzz over the past couple of seasons has been on concussion management.  At Baldwin Wallace University, we are fortunate to have doctors and trainers from the Cleveland Clinic, and they are on the cutting edge of concussion management.The past two seasons we have been helping with a program used to identify S-100B which is only present in the brain and not normally found in the blood.  If a brain injury occurs, it may show up in the blood.  Read more here

The ImPact test is something we have been using for a while now.  It gives a baseline for players on cognitive skills.  When a concussion is expected the trainers can re-administer the test to find deviations.  A player can be withheld from activity until the test shows that he is back to baseline results.  (I did have a linebacker who actually tested higher cognitively when he was concussed…sounds about right).

The Cleveland Clinic also uses an iPad testing application for concussion called C3. They are also developing a mouth guard that senses force and transmits it to the sideline to a mobile device and alerts medical staff.  A company called i1 Biometrix also has developed a mouth guard that wirelessly sends impact data to medical staff on the sideline.  A short explanation can be viewed in the video below.

A company called Statsport based in Ireland has developed a system that gives feedback on heart rate, distance run, effort exerted and a number of other performance indicators.  The Atlanta Falcons piloted this technology in the NFL this past season.  The information helps medical and training staff monitor effort and helps in targeting their training.

Igor Guryashki of ESPN explains how it works:

Here’s how the device works: 

• Customized: An athlete’s profile records every hit and every move of even an inch. A coach can also set workload targets for each player. 

• Advanced: The device, which includes a heart-rate monitor, gyroscope and accelerometer, can tell when a player is running on his heels or whether he has slowed down — both indicators of fatigue. 

• Instantaneous: A team can see a player’s data immediately. Is his heart beating too fast? Has he slowed since that tackle? An early shower now could prevent a groin strain later.

Read more here

The player is fitted what looks like a sports bra with the device positioned between his shoulder blades.  It weighs about as much as two AA batteries.

John Calipari uses something similar at Kentucky, though I am not sure if it is the exact same device.  Calipari writes in his blog:

“For the last few weeks, Rock Oliver has been sitting in front of the computer for every practice and workout so he can monitor our players’ heart rates and exertion levels in real time. At any point in practice I can look over to him and ask him what the rates are and he can give me the percentages. He can tell me if they’re going at 80 percent or 90 percent or whatever it is. If I think the rates are too low – if we are in the 70s or 80s – we get on the baseline and we run to get them back in the 90s.” read more here

I’m not sure how much players will appreciate the technology when potentially it’s putting them on the line to run sprints, though I don’t see it being used for that purpose in football where players work in short bursts.  It will be able to give a coach and trainer indicators on how hard a players is working.

I feel something like this would be outstanding in camp when we are constantly concerned with trying to gauge how much running we are putting our receivers through.  It certainly would be able to help us determine optimal reps for a player in a game based on the data which would tell us at what point he begins to show fatigue.  This is good for the player as well in helping prevent injury.


These seem to be huge advances in managing and preventing injuries.  Obviously much of the technology is in its infancy, so prices are very high.  Hopefully, these will become affordable enough to be able to move their utilization down the ranks.

My iBook available for purchase on the iPad from the iBookstore:


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