Four Ways Technology is Changing Athletic Training
Athletic trainers can now identify concussions, administer neurocognitive tests, perform specialized rehab and treat heat-related illnesses. Athletic trainers use to spend lots of time watching videos, taking notes and then charting results to illustrate the athlete's performance, but now wearable devices are changing the game.
New technology is becoming smaller, more resilient and less cumbersome for athletes to wear, so trainers can get real-time data. Here are four ways technology is revolutionizing sports training.
The massive adoption of mobile phones allows for quick messages between athletes, coaches and trainers.
For example, if an athlete goes out to dinner with their family, missteps and rolls their ankle; a quick text message can give their athletic trainer a heads up to start the treatment process the next day.
Watching video of previous games is still actively used by college and professional teams, but thanks to smart phones and smart televisions, it can now be viewed on numerous devices and even in the comfort of the athlete’s home.
There are also several fitness and diet trackers available to athletes to help them keep a physical record of their progress and their calorie intake. These programs are accessed through the Internet or mobile apps. Athletic trainers can utilize these journals to make sure athletes are eating properly as well as hold them accountable for their training.
Technology advancements have produced a variety of wearables to enhance an athlete’s performance.
Sensors placed on the body or in “smart clothing” deliver real time data to athletic trainers. Almost anything can be measured from these sensors including heart and breathing rate, hydration levels and core temperature.
Athletes have individual needs, so this specific data can help trainers decide when to give them a break or train harder, helping their overall performance.
Not only does this individualized data help performance, but it can also help prevent injuries.
With fatigue being one of the leading causes of injury in athletics, athletes can now wear sensors that alert athletic trainers and coaches when they have muscle fatigue. Another type of wearable is helping athletic trainers record whether a player is leaning a certain way when he cuts, jumps or lands, or if they are favoring one side over the other.
This data indicates early signs of injury, muscular imbalance or movement dysfunction which can be improved in training to prevent further damage.
NFL teams are also using chips in their player’s pads to record data on force and impact. These readings help determine which athletes are vulnerable to concussions. This data is helping athletic trainers and coaches decide when a player needs to come off the field and if they need to undergo additional neurological tests.
Once a player is injured or undergoes surgery to fix an injury, athletic trainers help them get back to peak playing performance.
Athletic trainers use body performance measurements to test an athlete and make sure they are ready to get back on the field. If an athlete goes back to practicing at full strength, or playing in a game too early, it can result in aggravating the injury or making it worse.
Today, athletes rehabbing lower extremities can use anti-gravity treadmills to get them up and moving quicker. These machines act as a brace around the waist of the athlete and have a vacuum sealed skirt that can reduce 20 to 80 percent of the athlete’s weight, minimizing the amount of stress exerted on the body.
Many trainers are also using pneumatic recovery units which wrap around the legs and are inflated with air. The athletes feel a massaging sensation as blood and lymphs are circulated throughout the legs.
While ice and tape will always be used by athletic trainers, technology has changed the way they do almost everything, from preventing injuries to rehabbing after surgery.
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