Every contact sports fan knows that on any given day, an injury can happen. One bad movement or one high-energy collision and that player from your favorite team is going to be out of the game – which can lead to stress, anxiety, and in some cases even depression. These injuries, aside from the burden of seeing your team without that player, they cost a lot of money. One star player injured means not only having your team decrease its performance, but in some cases, it also means that you cannot be absolutely sure if this player is going to be back on the same level of form before the injury.
Because of it, a medical specialty known as Sports Medicine (also known as Sports and Exercise Medicine) was born. Sports Medicine is a relatively new discipline, with the American College of Sports Medicine being founded in 1954, it includes a wide range of medical disciplines, allied health professions, and scientific disciplines that specialize themselves on bringing the best attention to improve the performance of the athlete. All of this is done while also creating strategies, diagnostic and therapeutic methods in order to prevent sports injuries and if they occur, treat them in the shortest time possible, allowing 100% recovery for them. As part of a multi-million-dollar industry, this is a specialty that really invests a lot of resources into medical research; take for example the NFL. RFID tracking, bio patches, and helmet sensors, – there are a lot of wearable devices being used to track every single movement or impact on the field, which is amazing, but which is the best way to interpret all of this data?
That’s where Augmented Reality breaks into the picture, because you could receive a lot of statistical data during training or during a match, but there is nothing like a device that allows you to SEE what is happening with the player in real time. Artanim is a company founded in 2011 by three motion capture experts, and they are based in Geneva, Switzerland. Artanim has developed this app called HoloMed. What is Holomed? It is basically an anatomical see-through app that uses the power of Microsoft HoloLens to capture the movement of any individual and convert it into visual information of bones overlaid into the patient. HoloMed was designed initially to provide med students and healthcare physicians with the means to observe the kinetic functioning of the joints in real time, and a different method to study anatomy or to show an abnormality of this joints during a medical consult.
What if this kind of technology was applied to the sports medicine field? We have all the sensors to perform motion tracking on any athlete, we have the application (or at least an early iteration of it) to watch the collisions happen in real time – what else is missing? The future could have one of the sports medicine doctors right on the bench checking the collisions in real time, assessing the impacts and probably, all assisted by an AR program, making the decisions on when a player should be taken off the field. This could be used for training or for a match, but it could also be used to detect a trend in the athlete’s movements, or to assess their biomechanics. Maybe it could even help in making decisions before the athlete even knows that he is going to be injured.
We believe this technology is something that should be worked on for every sports discipline, competitive or not. It could help prevent injuries, and even gain some insight at the mechanism probably extent of the injuries even before the first scan is made. This could be very well, the future of sports medicine with Augmented Reality!