What wearable technologies can prevent sports injuries?

What wearable technologies can prevent sports injuries?

By Anu Antony

This article covers the various injuries that athletes may incur during their professional career and the available wearable technologies that help prevent or protect from such injuries.

The impact of wearables in the sports industry:

For athletes who have to test their physical strength, endurance and speed on a daily basis, identifying basic facts like heart-rate, diet, weight or sleep patterns is not quite enough. For different kinds of sports, there are different injuries that develop. An enormous advantage in terms of medical expenses and financial losses lies in detecting injuries early while making sure that these athletes do not suffer from similar injuries in the future.

There are various kinds of sports injuries depending on the type of sport. Cycling injuries happen on short notice, while injuries due to running develop slowly. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in American football or hockey players develops over time. In a paper by Gil D. Rabinovici, about 87% of 202 American football players were found to be affected by CTE. So monitoring the athlete’s data can help coaches or trainers to diagnose and treat any anomaly before it turns into an irreparable injury.

However, it needs to be noted that not all data is useful to every athlete. For example, monitoring anomalies in data like pronation/pronation velocity can be helpful to prevent injuries before-hand in running sports. Wearables that help detect the intensity of the concussion and the impact level of damage on a football or hockey player can be used to determine whether they need to continue playing or be taken out for early treatments in rougher sports.

Types of wearables:

OptimEye S5

The most popular and leading company in wearables is Catapult Sports which identifies and monitors the strains and stress endured by players or athletes during competition. For example, their fifth generation wearable OptimEye S5 tracks and analyses all inertial movements (such as acceleration/deceleration and the influence of landing/jumping) of players who wear it under their jersey. It tracks and records 1000 data points per second which are visible to the coaches/trainers. It also provides information on distance moved, speed as well as their health data. This data can help the trainers to determine whether the players have reached their exhaustion level, the impact on their existing injuries or even new information on inhibiting injuries.

FIT Guard:

Force Impact Technologies has produced a novel wearable mouthpiece called FIT Guard worn under the teeth, used in evading head injuries. It is achieved by a series of sensors that determine the impact and severity of the collision through a display of coloured lights. FIT guard can also be customised to extract and visualise the data that the players and trainers are more interested in.

Zephyr Performance Systems:

A bio-harness sensor by Zephyr Performance Systems allows trainers/coaches to visualise the player’s heat stress, fatigue level, dehydration, exertion and maximum effort level. This data allows the trainers/coaches to identify and moderate the stress extenuated on the players during practice in real-time.

The Q-Collar:

The Q-Collar developed by Q30 Innovations is a collar worn around the neck to protect the internal structure of the skull in order to reduce the impact of brain injuries which is not fulfilled by a mere external protector like the helmet.

Threshold limit sensors:

A survey among athletes, revealed that knowledge of the threshold limit is very important to athletes and this can be detected by finding the level of lactic acid saturation and thus preventing over exertion and further injuries. Humon achieves this by a wearable that is strapped around the quad of the working muscle in order to determine the oxygenated level of blood in the skin with the help of an optical sensor. A similar wearable which can be used is BSXInsight, however it does not generate real time lactic acid data curve, but only provides quarterly curves annually.


Another upcoming technology in developing stages useful for prevention of injuries is a smart-foam developed by Jake Merrell that can be worn within helmets to determine the impact of the hit. The data can be accessed on a smart device or computer wirelessly which includes information like acceleration, impact of the energy and velocity to prevent persistent head injuries.

Wearable footwear and accessories:

Every running athlete’s performance is determined by their running form and this can be monitored by a wearable called Sensoria socks that detect foot strike, weight distribution, and rhythm of movement to find out any variation from usual data which can used for early injury detection. Runscribe which is embedded in the shoes can be used to generate a stress record for each player based on 13 parameters which can be used to each athlete’s advantage. Stridalyzer is a smart-insole that is to be worn inside the shoes of the player that identify force and pressure in order to prevent injuries before it happens.


Thus, wearables can help in identifying factors that can be potentially used to prevent sports injuries and can be a great asset if used to its full extent.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

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