It’s not fair. We all want to be in great shape, but when we play we pay – with injuries, especially as we get older. Don’t panic. The Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable technology are here to help. In this case though, your body is the “thing.”
Wearable sensors can collect real-time data about your movement and send it to physical therapists, doctors and trainers who work to keep us pain free. Wearable treatment devices heal our bodies as we move. We can perform better, heal more quickly and play more often.
Healing with Advanced Technology
Sports physicians are partnering with tech companies to put new technologies like IoT, wearables, cloud computing and data analytics to work in diagnosing and preventing injuries. The process starts with a comprehensive athletic-movement database and smart-sensing wearables. Devices worn on the athlete’s body generate data for subsequent analysis, just like any other IoT sensor.
Sensors collect and track body movement and algorithms translate data. For example, a lightweight compression sleeve can house a dedicated Motus sensor to evaluate motion patterns. Detailed metrics, video and interactive tools, all connected to the cloud, allow customization of training and coaching.
Biomechanical calculations using collected data are valuable in understanding how movement impacts game performance in the lab and on the field. Take it from Dr. David Altchek, an orthopedic surgeon at The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York who serves as Medical Director for the New York Mets and medical consultant for the NBA. He explains, “The interactive technology from devices utilizes a monitoring sensor system that collects and estimates physical joint forces, which can now ‘measure across the joints’ in various activities. This has never before been possible. Motus technology has given us the first device that comes close to measuring joint forces during activity. It will benefit movement, injury prevention and performance. The new tech changes everything.”
He would know. Dr. Altchek is the go-to doc for some of the best athletes in the world, including former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, Pedro Martinez, Jason Kidd and Maria Sharapova.
It’s not just the pros experiencing injuries that the IoT can help heal. Many of Dr. Altchek’s patients are trending younger – female high school athletes. “Recent studies show they are four to six times more likely to present with a serious, non-contact ACL tear, from being pushed too hard, too early during training and competition.”
Speaking of Sore Knees
Sensor data from wearable devices is analyzed in the context of a large store of existing stress and injury data. Knee injury is a great example. “One of the biggest issues in sports medicine is atrophy of the quadriceps muscle due to arthritis, sports injury or any type of related knee surgery,” said Dr. Struan Coleman, Mets Team Physician and HSS Orthopedic Surgeon.
He continued, “We see many golfers with early arthritis, leading to joint instability. It can be subtle. When you come through on a swing, your knees can give way.” Not addressing hip or knee damage leads to trickier problems later on, so Coleman and his engineering team developed targeted, wireless devices with app-controlled muscle stimulation therapy. This push for innovation led to developing technology with CyMedica. Dr. Coleman adds, “Use of new wearable devices can give athletes a more stable knee and a better use of the body. We can treat every patient like a professional athlete.”
Dr. Coleman knows about why critical healing changes lives. One of his most notable patients is Johan Santana, the two-time Cy Young Award winner. “Professional sports teams are always early adopters of the best wearable tech. MLB, the NHL, the PGA and the NBA have been using wearables for efficiency of movement and accelerated healing,” said Dr. Coleman.
Connected Wearable Treatments
For anyone who has had arthroscopy or more extensive surgery for a torn ACL, meniscus, or full or partial knee replacement, restored strength and balance really take a while to kick in. A “Conductive QB1 Garment ” can provide muscle strength data for predictable healing outcomes. Dr. Coleman explains, “In real time, every patient is tracked by a team – the hospital, the surgeon who performed the procedure and a physical therapist.”
Patients are treated with precise muscle stimulation and monitoring, then data capture on an app connects the medical team through the cloud, speeding up healing and avoiding numerous, common complications.
So, the next time you tweak your knee golfing, running or at spin class, or your favorite star player is limping off the field, rest assured that wearables and the IoT are here to help.