With injury in sports like football rising on a daily basis, it is no surprise that more money is being spent in sports science to seek ways of reducing injury problems that affect players from time to time. For example, during the 2009/2010, Arsenal FC manager, Arsene Wenger, is reported to have had to contend with as many as 12 injured players at the same time, in the Barclays English Premier League (EPL). When such injuries occur, the effects could be crucial, particularly if it happens to important players such as Cesc Fabregas, Lionel Messi or Wayne Rooney, and at important periods of the season such as during the knock out stage of the champions league campaign or relegation battle. Take for example, the possible cost that premiership clubs such as West Ham or Blackpool might have to play if Scot Parker (England) or Charlie Adams (Scotland) were injured, at this point in time, for the rest of the season or even Major League Soccer’s (MLS) LA Galaxy missing an important player like David Beckham.
So then, the introduction of new technology that can monitor players’ fatigue levels, in clubs such as Arsenal is a welcome development. In a bid to prevent injuries at all cost, the GPS system tracks training movements of every single player on the field and produces a huge amount of data relating to how far players are running and their levels of intense activity during training sessions. Furthermore, it measures ‘the load’ i.e. the amount of time a player’s foot is on the ground while he is running so as to show if a player is at high risk of injury in the next game. Players at high risk will be indicated if their work-rate goes down in training or their “load” increases. However, to get the full benefit of the system, a long record of individual players’ are needed and this usually takes quite a long time so clubs taking advantage of this cutting edge technology may not begin to see the results for a while yet.
What role should medicine play in sports?