In recent years, wearable technology such as Fitbits and Apple Watches have been increasing in popularity. In addition to allowing users to see in real time their activity levels and track heart rate, steps and quality of sleep, people now have access to information they could previously only garner in a lab or healthcare setting.
The use and application of that information to find solutions to real-world problems is currently being addressed by the Simulation and Applied Informatics Lab at Case Western Reserve University. Partnering with Case Crew, the rowing team, they are tracking whether data analytics gathered with wearable technology could be used to prevent injuries caused incurred during training.
Headed by Dhruv Seshadri, a second-year doctoral student, biomedical engineering students outfit the rowers with VivaLNK Vital Scout sensors to track bodily responses to physiological determinants. These include sweat rates, stress levels, heart rates and the intensity of the workout.
Samantha Magliato, a fourth-year student on the rowing team participating in the study, hoped the data could be used to find the area of peak performance for each athlete, preventing injuries such as soft tissue tears.
The rowing team’s structured training program and disciplined 6 a.m. practices allows for standardized data that can be widely applied outside of just their specific sports team.
The overarching goal of the data collection and research, Seshadri explained, is to eventually apply the findings to the context of more contact-based sports, in addition to those concerning youth and professional teams, so that it can be catered to individual athletes in safe and efficient ways.
The research team hopes for successive research to uncover applications beyond just those of athletics. Ideally it could also be applied to help those people who are not at the peak of their athletic abilities, unlike athletes. From those with cardiac conditions to high-risk pregnancies and end-of-life management, Seshadri said “the findings of such studies with wearable devices are incredibly clinically relevant.”
No matter what applications result from this research, this program shows the importance of collaboration between medical professionals and engineers, so as to be able to best augment the strides made in each field.