Sep 6, 2018
Real-Time Temps

This summer, the University of Virginia started using ingestible thermometers to monitor football players’ temperatures in real time. The technology is being used to help prevent heat-related illness.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the thermometers, which are about the size of a multivitamin, have a digestible sensor with a Bluetooth connection that sends data to athletic trainers’ computers. Players can be tracked by entering their jersey numbers into the system, thus enabling athletic trainers to monitor athletes if their temperatures start to rise to unsafe levels.

“It’s really helping us keep them safe,” Kelli Pugh, MS, ATC, CMT, Virginia’s Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine, said. “Before, we had to wait until they felt bad to tell us they felt bad.”

Pugh said that while the technology is not new, she didn’t know of any other colleges using the ingestible thermometers. She estimated the cost at $60,000 a year.

According to Pugh, coaches have gradually become more receptive to athletic trainers’ suggestions as the dangers of heat stroke have become more widely known.

“They’re certainly more willing to listen when an athletic trainer expresses a concern,” Pugh said. “Nobody wants a student-athlete to be in danger.”

Carla Williams, Virginia’s Athletic Director, said safety should be coaches’ top priority.

“Based on what I’ve seen, I think that for our coaches, at least in my mind, the student-athletes are our priority. It’s important to me that we treat our student-athletes as if they were our own children,” Williams said. “Because it’s important that the student-athletes have every opportunity to have a good experience. Of course we want to compete for championships, but we want to make sure we strike the right balance and take care of the student-athletes first.”

Image by U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Tracie Forte.



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