How Technology Advances Improve Sports Injury Treatments

May 17 2017 - 11:59am
Soccer foot injury

Injuries are a fact of life for people who play sports, whether that is on a professional level or simply for fun. This is something that they have accepted, whether it is an injury gained through severe collision, or simply a misjudged kick.

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While the risk of injury remains very real, the recent advances in technology mean that our ability to treat injuries – returning people to their previous state of health – is improving at a very rapid rate. Technology has been used for several decades now when it comes to helping people to watch sports to their best effect – replays and close-ups come to mind – so it is only logical that technology be used in injury rehabilitation also. There are many ways in which technology can help with rehabilitation, but the most recent innovation has to be the use of robotics to help with specifically upper limb rehabilitation. The idea behind this use of robotics is to use the robots to help assist with movement, using micro linear actuators to guide limbs through a series of postures until they are strong to do so themselves.

It only makes sense that advancing medical technology would be used for sports injuries and for rehabilitation in general. The overall bill for sports medicine is set to grow to nearly ten billion dollars within the next few years; using all the available technology possible makes perfect sense from that perspective, particularly when taking into consideration how much money sports brings in in general.

Digital Modelling

This new technology allows for a greater insight into the extent of sports injuries, which allows us to gain more knowledge than the technology we currently have. Digital modelling is something which can be used in a variety of ways – it can show arm and hand injuries in sports players, allowing for treatment to be tailored more extensively towards the actual injury in question, while also reducing the possibility that the treatment will do harm to other injuries which may or may not have been picked up.

The digital modelling technology can also be used for picking up injuries at an earlier stage – there has been some success in using the technology to find concussions earlier than we have been able to before, for example. This earlier detection will allow for earlier treatment, which will in turn hopefully reduce both the trauma of the injuries, and the amount of time spent in rehab.

Where digital modelling is also helpful is in building up a picture of what a healthy player looks like, to give a better basis of comparison when injuries happen.

Wearable Monitors

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Something which may end up working hand in hand with digital modelling is the use of wearable monitors in sports. The monitors themselves don’t even need to be separate – they can be built into existing equipment, allowing for the capture of data about sports players as they go about their daily business of training and playing. This technology is tipped to be helpful in gathering information about brain injuries gained during playing, both how they are gained, and what effects they have on a person, but there are a number of other uses for the technology as well.

One of those uses is Smart Socks, socks which are equipped with pressure sensors in appropriate spots to help people evaluate the possibility and extent of running injuries. This allows trainers and medical staff to give an appropriate rehabilitation regime when injuries occur, and perhaps also the means to prevent the injury from occurring in the first place.

foot treatment

Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy has been around for a while, and it has been used to treat injuries gained through sports for almost as long. The reason for this is that water acts almost as an anti-gravity field, removing a lot of our weight when we are submerged. Having the water hold a greater part of an injured person’s weight means that there is less risk of re-injury during the rehabilitation process. Using aquatic therapy may also help to speed the healing process, as the qualities of water mean that there can be less time spent in waiting for healing to happen.

Recently, aquatic therapy has been combined with technology in a bid to further improve rehabilitation and healing techniques. New recording technology is used to show people how the rehabilitation techniques are working, as well as allowing them to keep a closer eye on the injured party while they are undergoing treatment. The pool itself can be integrated with a floor which moves up and down, thus facilitating a wider range of exercises and regimens.
Surgery and procedures

While the vast majority of sports injuries do not require surgery, there are some cases where it is necessary. Badly broken limbs, for example, sometimes require surgery, whether that is to handle damage to the bones and surrounding tissues themselves, or to add in some materials (wires, plates) which will act as a crutch while the limb repairs itself.

Technology is something which is most obvious in terms of surgery, as our increasing knowledge in this area allows for better surgical techniques, better and less invasive surgery (meaning less healing time), and a better understanding of what needs to be fixed.

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