Tapping Into Tendons

June 8, 2018

Thinking of a tendon like a guitar string could potentially help with gauging when it’s safe for athletes to return to activity. According to a news release from the University of Wisconsin, a group of researchers from the school are patenting a wearable device to measure tendon tension during activity.

The device measures this tension noninvasively by assessing vibrational responses when it is placed on the skin over a tendon. The tendon’s force is gauged by the vibrational characteristics during movement, similar to the way a guitar string’s tension—and resulting vibration—changes when it is plucked.

“We’ve found a way to measure the vibrational characteristics—in this case, the speed of a shear wave traveling along a tendon—and then we went further and determined how we can interpret this measurement to find the tensile stress within the tendon,” Darryl Thelen, PhD, Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Co-Director of the Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab at Wisconsin, said.

The wearable developed by Dr. Thelen and his colleagues lightly taps the tendon 50 times per second. Two miniature accelerometers then gauge how quickly the resulting wave travels.

“The ultimate value of the shear wave tensiometers is to assess loads acting on individual muscle-tendon units during movement,” the researchers wrote in an article published by Nature Communications.

With a patent underway through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the device would allow a relatively inexpensive and portable way of assessing tendon force. This could have a significant impact on rehabilitation by showing when people may be able to return from injury. In addition, it could be useful in orthopedics and ergonomics.

“We think the potential of this new technology is high, both from a basic science standpoint and for clinical applications,” Dr. Thelen said. “For example, tendon force measures could be used to guide treatments of individuals with gait disorders. It may also be useful to objectively assess when a repaired tendon is sufficiently healed to function normally and allow a person to return to activity.”

So far, the research team has measured forces on the patellar, hamstring, and Achilles tendons. The device has allowed changes in the tendon resulting from gait modifications to be measured. In other words, the researchers have been able to see how the tendon responds to adjustments in speed or length of stride—a big improvement for practical applications.

“Currently, wearables can measure our movement, but do not provide information on the muscle forces that generate the movement,” Dr. Thelen said.

SEARCH for Products
SEARCH for Vendors

A Rebounder With Versatility

Medicine ball exercises are a staple of many workout routines. Whether the goal is performance enhancement by strengthening the core or helping an athlete rehab from an injury, medicine balls are versatile piece of equipment that can get the job done. But most strength coaches and athletic trainers don’t have enough time available to catch … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Author and Strength Coach Mike Mejia Praises VersaClimber

“Over the course of the past twenty years I’ve trained hundreds of clients that run the gamut from average Joe’s to professional athletes and in all that time, I’ve never come across a cardio piece that comes anywhere near the Versa Climber!” says Mike Mejia M.S., CSCS, author of The Men’s Heath Better Body Blueprint, … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Indoor Pool Surface Solution

Mateflex has indoor pool surfacing that is safer and more enjoyable to walk on than concrete. Mateflex offers perforated tiles to allow water to drain through that can cover up old, unsightly concrete or just spruce up a new area with a colorful design. The interlocking tiles dry quickly while keeping your feet out of … CLICK TO READ MORE...

The Evolution of the Lifting Platform

The days of the above ground weightlifting platform may be a thing of the past. More and more high schools, colleges, and professional strength and conditioning facilities who are either building a new facility or renovating an existing facility are going away from the traditional above ground lifting platform and choosing the inlaid platform, which … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Teaching Principles: Neck Rotation

Coach Bill ‘Jake’ Jacobs goes back to the basic teaching principles with Neck Rotation. View his demonstration.  CLICK TO READ MORE...