Algorithm to study injuries

The specialists claim that the technological solutions to avoid damage in the professional athletes are still in the embryonic phase. Actually, there are working with an algorithm to know when a player is going to be injured. 

Imagine: your team is in the finals of the Champions League, but your best forward of the team suffers a muscular injury two days before the key game. He will not be able to play. It is a risk that all coaches know perfectly and a nightmare for the fans, besides the potential financial damage for the club. But the technology, more and more present in the day by day of this sport, could offer surprising answers to the problem.

A group of Italian investigators has developed an algorithm based on the artificial intelligence able to foresee with great precision the risk of muscular injuries. The advance method represents a significant advance in respect to the previous technologies, they assure us.

 “Avoiding injuries is an urgent problem. The impact for the team is an important one”, assures Paolo Cintia, an investigator of the University de Pisa (Italy). ” There is much talk about money, both the one that is invested in the injured athlete recuperation because of the loss of income from the fans that want to see him play”, adds, Ismael Fernández, an expert in sport science, explains that injuries depend not only from physical factors but also from aspects such as quality of sleep, diet or the physiological situation of an athlete.

The traumatic injuries cannot avoid it and the high performance demanded from the professional soccer players adds one more risk factor, assures this specialist that has collaborated with teams such as Atlético de Madrid, the Villareal or the PSG.

Each time more frequently, the elite soccer teams rely on these new technologies to reduce injuries and optimize the performance of the players, assure us the experts. Cintia explains that since a few years back the professional teams accumulate a lot of data on the activity of the player’s thanks to GPS. “All movements are a register of an athlete during training; parameters such as accelerations, distance traveled and speed”, assures us.

But so much information is not easy to manage, according to Cintia. “A physical trainer has to analyze from 50 to 100 variables for each player on each training”, details. “The most important is not in the resources that you have, but instead in how you utilized them”.

The artificial intelligence enter the field

The artificial interline could help exploit in an efficient way all this information, according to Cintia and the other authors of a recently published study in PLOS ONE.

These researchers, belong to different institutions such as the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Italiano and the universities of Pisa and Milan, have developed a software that permits to analyze automatically different variables at the same time and offer indications on the exposition of possible muscular damage of the players.

To put it into practice, they carried out an experiment with an Italian professional team made of 26 players. The data recollection was done during six months during the season 2031-2014. In the designed model, carried out within the framework of the European project Sobigdata, specialists of the FC Barcelona also collaborated.

“All the movements of an athlete are registered during training: parameters such as acceleration, distance, and speed”.

The work consists in combing all the data of the training of an athlete during the season with the historical series of muscular injuries that has suffered”, details Cintia. The answer to the algorithm developed has surprised its creators.

“The previous methods are correct only on four of a 100 times of the injury prevention. Our, 50 out of each 100”, assures Alessio Rossi, principal author of the article. In his opinion, the precision of the preventions permits the coaches and trainers to take decisions more personalized over the training and the use in the games of the player. “The current techniques are very conservative, lead to slow down of the training of the whole team”, adds Cintia.

A very young science

In spite of these studies, the knowledge of this science is still in a very immature phase, we could talk about a very young science, and the proves and interpretations on behalf of the professionals will make us see an extreme professionalization and necessary for this sector for a better development of the show that supposes the world of soccer.