Modern technology ensuring healthier sportspersons at Rio Olympics 2016
Injuries can destroy the career of a player and more so at physically intensive events such as the Olympics. Andranik Karapetyan, an Armenian weightlifter, was taken to hospital after dislocating his elbow during the men’s competition at Rio 2016. The weightlifter, barely 20 years old, was in the hunt for a bronze medal. He was attempting to lift 195 kg in the clean-and-jerk event. Halfway, his elbow got dislocated. He screamed in pain and was in tears as he saw his dream lying shattered in front of him. He is not alone; a number of injuries have already taken place, with broken legs, collarbones, broken backs and neck, etc. leaving fans disappointed.
With every successive event raising the bar, the competition is only getting stiffer. Consequently, probability of injuries grows multiple times. A recent study found that sportspersons lose around 20 to 35% of their resources due to injuries, with as many as 10% of the injuries categorized as serious and which cause long-term harm.
In an effort to ensure healthier players and sportspersons at Rio 2016, modern technologies, including Big Data, Analytics, and Internet of Things are being put to extensive use. They are helping sports teams avoid risk of injuries and have featured high on the Games' priorities.
Rio 2016: most data-intensive Games in history
Every aspect of the Olympics would depend, to some extent, on data capture and use. Sensors, heart rate monitors, GPS trackers, etc. are being prominently utilized. As the technology element of the Games gets more improved than before, intervention of modern technologies is only set to increase.
With more than 11,000 athletes taking part and with every one of them being the harbingers of their respective countries' hopes of sporting glory and excellence, one can very well imagine the level of physical fitness that would be required and consequently the need to keep players in their top form.
For example, Kitman Labs, a sports and data company, has been collaborating with Olympic teams to prevent injuries by leveraging technologies such as Big Data and Analytics. The company uses a unique Athlete Optimization System, which allows coaches and trainers to understand how athletes respond to physical and mental stress during training and competition.
Negative response can trigger adjustment to a player’s training program to avoid injury. CEO Stephen Smith said that the Big Data and Analytics technology is helping sportspersons prevent injuries during physical training and matches.
Echoing a similar sentiment, Somesh Misra, VP, Deskera, a leading Cloud-based Big Data company, said: “Big Data Analytics has applications across industries, with sports being one area where the potential of its applicability is jumping northwards day by day. With the Olympics getting stiffer at every subsequent edition, the technology can surely play a central role in ensuring healthy players,”
How Big Data Analytics is used to monitor players
Generally speaking, there are many factors that can result in sports injuries - exhaustion during practice, hydration levels, weather, age of player, along with technique. Data is collected from various sources such as training, fitness tests, matches, and location. Players wear a vest equipped with sensors. All vital parameters are recorded, stored, and analyzed. Actionable data is collected from diverse sources such as video, text, etc., producing real-time analytics useful for a physio. A mathematical formula is applied to calculate risk of injury. The risk element for a player is presented through simple representations to team coaches, trainers, and physiotherapists, so that appropriate measures can be taken timely. Simulation facility enables them to understand problem areas.
There is an injury catalog, which helps in managing injury and registers the data to help physiotherapists track critical health parameters. Sports bodies can identify weaknesses in performance early, maximize player availability, and prevent injury, providing greater visibility into players‘ health, including trends and risks.
Big Data Analytics predicts and monitors players’ health and can be used to implement intervention programs by analyzing historical as well as live data to help assess the possible risk of injury, yielding customized management of players' well-being.
Many injuries are non-accidental in nature and can be prevented if the risk is detected early. The new technology identifies the risks and on the basis of that Analytics, players can be placed in customized training programs. It also extrapolates patterns, with mathematical predictive models forecasting possibilities of injury. Unlimited number of factors can be analyzed and patterns culled from data. This helps physiotherapists identify problem areas and factors adding to risk of injury. Custom risk profiles are also generated for every sportsperson.
"It's a 3D analysis. We map the kinematics of the entire body and develop a performance profile including injury risk areas. Then sit down with the player and after evaluating their previous history of injury, work out whether any technical interventions are necessary," said Sydney University cricket biomechanics researcher Dr Eduard Rene Ferdinands in a news article. He specializes in motion analysis and dynamics modeling.
Technology is a boon and utilized in a judicious way, it can pave the way for a healthy playing environment and players, where every sportsperson can give their best shot and achieve the glory of their lifetime.
About the author
Technology Evangelist, avid blogger and enthusiast, and basically a storyteller at heart. With more than 10 years of experience in journalism, Muqbil Ahmar has enjoyed his stints with other media like TV, magazines, and Web. When not surrounded by startup and tech stories, he likes to dig for inspirational ones. He writes on Cloud, Big Data, IoT, startups, SMEs, Enterprises, Technology, ERP, CRM, and everything under the sun—viewed from the prism of new era tech. You can tweet him at @muqbil_ahmar or connect through LinkedIn and Facebook.