If I were an NFL owner, GM, or coach, I’d set aside a little pot of money to try to answer some of these questions empirically. There is a lot of advantage to be gained by keeping even a few more players per season off the injured reserve list — to say nothing of the fact that it’s the right thing to do.
This prompted an interesting e-mail from Ryan Comeau:
Dynamic Athletics is a biomechanics company focused on athletes and people recovering from orthopedic injuries. Our technology has been in development for 8 years but we’ve only had our doors open for 7 months now. We process 3D motion-capture files in a way that deliver the full palate of kinematic & kinetic data (without force plates). This immense amount of data collected about an athlete’s ability to move & how exactly they produce their movement, if managed properly, becomes a valuable time capsule for the athlete or those managing a team.
A team could go back and retroactively build a new report, let’s say about a player’s neck, from an old data set and track exactly where that player is in comparison to his healthy baseline. In terms of accuracy, we can deliver posterior & anterior translation + rotation about a player’s knee–one recovering from an ACL–that’s sub-millimeter. No other company has this capability either.
Furthermore, if a player–let’s say a baseball pitcher–experiences extremely high joint torque about his elbow during one of his off-speed pitches, Dynamic Athletics will be able to identify it. From there the player has to work with coaches & strength coaches to withstand that high force production or mechanically alter the motion. We also test & correlate fatigue to biomechanical data, working to define accurate pitch counts for individual throwers.
I am not equipped to assess how worthwhile this is but it certainly sounds as if it’s thinking in the right direction.