Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Cleveland Browns point way to remote monitoring of athletes

Steve Rogerson
March 2, 2016
Research conducted by the Cleveland Browns gridiron team is showing how wearable technology could serve as an invaluable tool that lets athletes, sports teams and physicians monitor key metrics such as functional movements, athlete workloads and biometric markers.
University Hospitals Sports Medicine physicians published a review article based on the research in the multi-disciplinary scientific journal Sports Health outlining the usage of wearable technology in sports.
Sports medicine physicians have long looked for clues, subtleties and tendencies in their athletes trying both to prevent injury and increase potential but have struggled how to quantify it all. However, wearable technology monitoring affords the individual wearing the technology the ability to increase performance while reducing injury.
The research was led by James Voos, the Jack & Mary Herrick director of sports medicine at University Hospitals and head team physician of the Cleveland Browns, who examined all forms of the technology from pedometers and accelerometers to global positioning devices.
"Wearable technology provides a method of monitoring real-time physiologic and movement parameters during training and competitive sports," said Voos, who is also associate professor of orthopaedics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "These parameters can be used to detect position-specific patterns in movement, design more efficient sports-specific training programmes for performance optimisation, and screen for potential causes of injury."
Physiologic sensors that monitor heart rate, sleep and body temperature as well as other integrated sensors were reviewed. The purpose of the article was to familiarise team physicians as well as a wide array of health care professionals with the various types of wearable technology available, their use and potential future applications in sports medicine.
The sensor, half-dollar in size and shape, is worn during all aspects of training and physicians receive live feedback on a monitor as the athlete completes the workout. It allows the doctors and trainers to customise daily routines safely and effectively while avoiding potential injury and over-exertion.
Cleveland Browns head athletic trainer Joe Sheehan was a co-author on the paper. Sheehan has implemented the use of wearable technology during training with his athletes. Sheehan and Voos are using this technology to identify risk factors which will likely aid in preventing injury and assist both the team and individual athletes in improving their performance.
"Wearable technology represents a new frontier in the world of sports," said Sheehan. "We are extremely excited to partner with University Hospitals as we look to maximise the benefits of this new technology."
The UH Sports Medicine research team has identified key data points using GPS sensor technology that are potential indicators for risk of injury throughout a typical season.
"We are very excited to be one of the first teams to publish scientific data on the use of wearable technology in professional football players,” said Voos. “The end goal is to provide our athletes with a safe, predictive model for injury prevention."
The UH Sports Medicine research team is now in the process of initiating a study on male and female youth athletes to assess energy expenditure and injury rates using wearable technology devices.
"We are utilising our experience with wearable technology devices in youth athletes across north-east Ohio to promote a healthy sports participation environment," said Voos.
Additional members of the UH Sports Medicine research team and Cleveland Browns medical staff include Michael Salata and Sean Cupp. Moving forwards, Voos and Sheehan are excited to incorporate recently hired Adam Beard, director of high performance for the Cleveland Browns, in the pursuit of future projects surrounding sports performance with the Browns.