Everyone on the MD+DI editorial staff is a sports nut. We love it when we can equate some idea in the medical device world to basketball, baseball, football, tennis, you name it. We particularly like it when our job coincide with sports, so that we can tell you about it.

December 21, 2010

1 Min Read
Medical Devices in Sports: Cuffing the Competition

A few years ago, its was big news that football players were suffering serious short- and long-term effects from head injuries. We covered a cool device that enabled sideline diagnoses of concussions.

And more recent news from the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise has me intrigued.

A study published by the journal demonstrates that highly trained swimmers that used a blood pressure cuff to restrict blood flow to their arms a few minutes before maximum-effort time trials improved their performance in a 100-meter race by 0.7 seconds. The study team was led by Greg Wells and Andrew Redington at the the University of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

Basically, in a few minutes, athletes were able to significantly boost their performance, making gains that—according to the authors—would normally take an average of two years of intense training to accomplish. Wired magazine covers the story here.

The idea is based on ischemic preconditioning, whereby limiting blood flow to the heart strengthens the muscle to endure more serious events. The authors set out to prove that athletes could essentially train other muscles to perform in a similar manner during exercise. 

The initial results seem to have succeeded. Using a group of 16 to 18 swimmers, the research team devised a double-blind crossover study where the same athletes swam mid-intensity and maximum-effort trials, but on two different days. The athletes bettered their personal records by 1.1% on average. Wells and Redington think that altered metabolism of mitochondria may contribute to more energy available for exercise.

 —Heather Thompson

Sign up for the QMED & MD+DI Daily newsletter.

You May Also Like