Bart van Trigt, PhD candidate in the field of biomechanical engineering at TU Delft is developing a measurement system to prevent overhead injuries in both baseball and tennis. He is working with colleague Ton Leenen, a PhD candidate at VU Amsterdam in the field of movement sciences.
“We want to design a shirt that measures the timing between body segments to help us understand and predict injuries,” says Van Trigt. “But at the same time, we also want to improve the performance of players.” The researchers are hoping to strike the perfect balance. “If you train too much, you get injured. But if you don’t train enough, your performance will not improve.”
To move the shirt’s design forward, they are experimenting in the field with real players. Leenen explains: “The shirt contains four different sensors that measure the position data via markers on our subjects. These sensors give us information about specific body parts which we use to measure how their position relates to other body parts such as the forearm, upper arm, torso, pelvis etc. In this project we mainly focus on the shoulder and elbow joints.” The sensors measure acceleration, angle velocity, and the direction and global orientation of the player in the field. The data generated allow the researchers to calculate the time between the peaks of the angular velocities of the segments related to the load on the different joints.
“What we expect from this technology is that we can use these high-speed sensors to capture the precise movement of the baseball and tennis players,” explains Van Trigt. He expects that a lot of players of different levels will use the shirt in the future to give them feedback to improve their performance and reduce injuries.
- Van Trigt and Leenen’s project is one of nine projects in an NWO programme launched in April 2018 to prevent sports injuries. Both researchers are focusing on tennis and baseball players as these groups have a relatively high risk of injury.