Technology is a fact of life, from the smartphone we carry in our pockets to the flat screen television you watch football on every Sunday. It is part of every industry today and none more so than the athletic industry. Over the years, modern medicine and technology have made significant changes in athletics and have literally changed the game for those who participate in sports.
One area where athletics and technology are connecting is through mobile and smartphone apps. Programs like Ubersense, an app that offers real-time video analysis so that coaches and players can see movements that could improve their game, identify how an injury occurred or compare changes in motion. AMPSports allows athletes to monitor heart rates and other physical changes while competing in order to improve cardio performance, diet and stress level.
Much of this data was previously collected and entered into spreadsheets, on paper and in other locations that had to be combed through in order to be of any value. Now, a simple app on a tablet, laptop or phone allows players and coaches to not only improve athletic ability, but also to watch for any medical issue that may develop as a result of the sport.
The NFL and many colleges are now using virtual reality to train athletes. In fact, there is evidence that the use of virtual reality helped the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals get to the playoffs last season. Quarterbacks are able to watch recorded drills as if outside their body so they can see movements and footwork while other players can break down the game film of an upcoming opponent.
Stanford, which used virtual reality in their last season, beat their opponents by an average of 22 points and their quarterback improved his completion percentage by almost 14 percent. Medically, virtual reality is now used in conjunction with cognitive-behavioral therapy for players who struggle with anxiety due to increased pressure.
Concussions in sports are still a leading topic of conversation. In 2013, the American Medical Society reported that almost four million concussions occur in sports annually, but as many as 50 percent go unreported. Playing rules, treatment and better equipment have made players and coaches more aware of the dangers of concussions.
Computer programmers in conjunction with data professionals with degrees from database administration colleges are working to develop technology that will help immediately diagnose when a player suffers a blow to the head. One device is a small, wireless sensor installed in a player’s helmet that detects when a player suffers a head injury.
The device originated as a military tool designed to measure invisible shockwaves from explosive blasts and their effect on soldiers. The device transmits data to an app that marks each blow on a scale of 1 to 99 with a lighting code similar to a traffic light. Green indicates a minor blow while red indicates a severe hit. In addition, medical science has created testing protocols to be used on the sidelines to better determine if a player has suffered a concussion as well as after-concussion protocols to allow the brain to heal.
These are just a few of the ways that medical science and technology have improved the sporting industry. As more technology develops, athletes may find themselves performing better and playing safer than they ever have before.