Monday, February 12, 2018

Innovations in Sports Science

Over the course of the last couple of years, I have been blessed to be asked a lot to present at sports medicine conferences on the use of technology in sports medicine.  When I first started practice back in 1997, I never would have imagined that this would become an area I had so much passion about or that it would be the main focus of my job or career as a physical therapist.  But it has and is becoming such a critical part of what we do in the treatment of the injured athlete, prevention of injuries and improvement in athletic performance.  During a recent presentation, I came to the realization that this might be something worth sharing with wider audience and hence, why I decided to do this blog series.

Before I begin, one thing we all need to keep in mind when it comes to technology is that most of the time this is being presented to us, it is being presented by a technology company and by IT people.  These are not clinicians.  Sometimes we forget this when we are presented with technologies that are so cool and have the potential to really alter the way we look at things.  Somethings to keep in mind:

  • This is a tech company trying to sell you technology.  They are not clinicians so we must critically analyze what we are looking at by applying some of the foundational science and some common sense.  They will not offer up the error rate their technology has nor the fact that most of that has been programmed out so that you, the user, never realize it.
  • As a non-clinician, you should question:
    • Ease of implementation into your clinical practice.  How easy is it to implement into your patient flow and does it have the efficiency to allow for use in everyday busy sports medicine practice.
    • Validity of the clinical measure - Does this technology truly measure what it states.  If you have an IMU embedded into clothing, does this truly measure joint motion.  Or do the materials move around on the skin and give you false readings.  Are the angles that you place on 2D video accurate or are they truly 15+ degrees off a Viacom system?  Does the Kinect based measurements truly provide accurate joint movement or is this 20%+ off of true motion?
    • Billing - do they really know how you can bill for this technology.  THIS SHOULD BE THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATED.  There are several technologies that tell you how you can bill that DOES NOT fall within ethical or legal billing compliance.  In addition, if you are billing only 4 units during a patient visit and if you are billing 97530 (Ther Act) does this add any additional revenue to your business?  Or, is this adding an expense on top of what your existing net revenue per visit is?
    • Is it truly HIPAA Compliant - there are a lot out there that DO NOT understand the level of security that must be put in place to protect patient information.  At the end of the day, it is the clinician that is held responsible for this.  For the athlete is entrusting you with this information.  
Now that we have that bases, there are several innovations that I would like to speak to in sports medicine.  These are not all technologies but innovations that we can use to assess, treat and help our athletes avoid injuries and perform better.  These would fall in the area of:

  • Innovations in exercise - here we will discuss some of the innovations in theraband technology and integration of apps for training.
  • Innovations in recovery - this section we will discuss some of the advances in recovery science and certain products that are being utilized to help in the recovery process.
  • Innovations in assessment - here we will discuss the use of 3D wearable technology and how this is being leveraged not just to assess athletes but also to provide mass data.  This amount of data allows for mining of trends we never knew existed.
  • Innovations in athletic telehealth - how telemedicine is allow us to have interactions with athletes much early in the process and speed their road to recovery.
During this series, I will discuss a series of different products I have come across and some which I use.  This is by no means meant to be an endorsement but rather sharing of my experience with.  Each product should be thoroughly evaluated by those interested prior to purchase or use.

Dr. Nessler is a practicing physical therapist with over 20 years sports medicine clinical experience and a nationally recognized expert in the area of athletic movement assessment.  He is the founder | developer of the ViPerform AMI, the ACL Play It Safe Program, Run Safe Program and author of a college textbook on this subject.  Trent has performed >5000 athletic movement assessments in the US and abroad.  He serves as the National Director of Sports Medicine Innovation for Select Medical, is Vice Chairman of Medical Services for USA Obstacle Racing and movement consultant for numerous colleges and professional teams.  Trent is also a competitive athlete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

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