As the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar this week, Nick Bolton, CEO, discusses how early detection and rapid treatment of injuries is vital to ensure a swift and lasting return to form for the athlete
21 November 2022 - Injury poses a significant risk to elite athletes and sports teams, both in terms of their success and, at a club and individual level, financially. Early detection and rapid treatment of injuries is vital to ensure a swift and lasting return to form of the athlete. As we enter the Augmented Age, more and more sports teams, trainers, and physiotherapists are turning to motion measurement technology, which has the capabilities not only to provide highly specific data, which is crucial to bespoke recovery plans, but also to identify potential injuries before they impact performance.
As the men’s FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar this week, FIFA president Gianni Infantino predicts as many as 5 billion people worldwide will be watching the players as they compete. As excitement builds, so too has the speculation surrounding which players will not be playing due to injury, with elite players including Argentina captain Lionel Messi commenting that he is “more afraid” going into the World Cup, after seeing teammates pick up injuries.
What the increased adoption of motion measurement technology in injury rehabilitation and research studies shows, is that preventing catastrophic injuries is not a pipe dream...
The impact of injury on individual and team performance can be the difference between winning and losing. Despite strict diets, fitness regimes, and access to the best medical care and technologies, elite athletes can never be immune to injuries. This summer saw Germany’s top scorer, Alexandra Popp, miss out on the Women’s Euros Final 2022, which was won by England’s inspirational Lionesses, after injuring a muscle just eight minutes before kick-off. While in the 2020/21 Premier League, league winners Manchester City lost a cumulative total of time-loss absence due to injury equating to 96 games, compared to Liverpool’s equivalent 243 games missed due to injury, finishing third in the league having won the previous year.
The impact of injuries can be the difference between victory and defeat, but glory is not the only factor at stake. At a commercial level, the significance of injury cannot be overstated: the data from the English Premier League in the month of January 2020 shows 95 reported injuries, which cost clubs a collective £16.5 million. Preventing these costly, potentially career-threatening injuries, and optimising recovery is paramount for sporting success.
What the increased adoption of motion measurement technology in injury rehabilitation and research studies shows, is that preventing catastrophic injuries is not a pipe dream, but a reality made possible by motion capture technology. Auburn University uses Vicon motion measurement cameras and software capable of capturing the most intricate and exacting details of athletic movement to identify the warning signs of future anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, which afflict as many as 200,000 athletes at all levels each year.
At an elite sports level, Vicon customer, Red Bull, whose athletes include England World Cup Squad player, Trent Alexander-Arnold, has athlete performance centres around the world, which rehabilitate and train their world-class athletes. Similarly, The London Podiatry Centre, who have worked for the England international football team and Arsenal FC, use Vicon technology in their premier sports injury gait assessment, to provide the most advanced gait analysis when assessing the cause of injury. While Sports Surgery Clinic has garnered an international reputation for sports injury management, diagnostics, and rehabilitation and has treated world-renowned athletes to improve injury management outcomes, using Vicon to measure joint relationships, forces, peak torques and angular velocities in high-speed cutting, jumping and landing.
Vicon’s new Valkyrie solution, can capture the fastest moving athletes, in and outdoors in any weather, more accurately than ever before...
These sense and analyse capabilities, at the cutting edge of developments in sports biomechanics, can not only be deployed in laboratory settings to achieve this, but also integrated into outdoor training sessions, enabling athletes to be tracked in their ‘real-world’ training environments. Liverpool John Moores University is already utilising Vicon motion measurement in biofeedback training geared towards injury management and skills development in football players. And now, Vicon’s new Valkyrie solution, can capture the fastest moving athletes, including even gymnasts, in and outdoors in any weather, more accurately than ever before, without the need for further processing, allowing real-time analysis of performance. The data removes the guesswork from training sessions and standardised treatment plans, enabling them to be adapted to best improve the athlete’s performance, whilst protecting them from injury and develop skills.
Motion measurement and the use of this data is already woven into the fabric of sports, now it is time to leverage existing technologies both reactively, in injury recovery, and proactively, in the earliest possible detection of pain points. The technology is ready - it is for the sports clubs, national teams, coaches and physiotherapists to incorporate its capabilities into the foundations of their programmes and training sessions, so that elite athletes can reach even greater sporting heights, uninhibited by preventable injuries.
i Sports Pro Media, Qatar 2022 to be watched by 5bn people, says Gianni Infantino, 25th May 2022
ii The Week, Pre-World Cup injuries: the ‘fear’ of missing out on Qatar, 24th October 2022
iiiSport.Optus.Com, Germany superstar Alexandra Popp ruled out of Euro 2022 final eight minutes before kick-off, 1st August 2022
ivPremierInjuries.com, 2020-21 Premier League Season Injury Review: Time-loss Absence, 8th June 2021
viVicon.com, Auburn Uses Vicon Mocap to Stop ACL Tears Before They Happen, 20th March 2018
viiThe London Podiatry Centre, Gait Analysis UK, Premier Sports Injury Gait Assessment
viiiSports Surgery Clinic, 3-Dimensional Biomechanical Testing
ixLiverpool John Moores University, The Football Exchange
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