U.S. World Cup Team Uses GPS Devices To Track Player Health

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When the U.S. Men's National Team played Belgium last night, physicians tracked their every movement using small GPS devices that measured players' physical workload and the distances they covered over time, Bloomberg reports.

Background

According to a study published after the 2010 tournament by Jiri Dvorak -- chief medical officer of Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA -- improved injury prevention among all World Cup teams has contributed to a lower number of match injury cases.

Dvorak applauded FIFA's acceptance of the new injury prevention methods, adding that during this year's tournament FIFA expects there to be fewer than two injuries per game, down from 2.7 injuries per game in 1998.

GPS-Tracking Device Details

The matchbox-sized GPS systems are commonly used by coaches to track players':

  • Exertion and energy expenditure; and
  • Positioning.

U.S. Men's National Team physician George Chiampas said that the information collected by such devices is "just one example of the data" he and his staff use.

The U.S. Men's National Team has at least 10 physicians and coaches who are responsible for players' health.

Data from the GPS-tracking devices are combined with information collected from other monitoring devices that can track players':

  • Cardiovascular efficiency;
  • Fatigue;
  • Hydration; and
  • Movements during running, jumping and playing (Basak, Bloomberg, 7/1).

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