ADVANCED IMAGING: Berkson reviews biomechanical running analysis with a runner using the center's high-definition video wall.
Standing beneath a halo of 20 infrared cameras with dozens of spherical reflective markers attached to his body, a pitcher winds up, breathes and throws a fastball toward a target. What happens next seems like a scene from the set of the latest James Cameron movie: the pitcher’s 3-D image is combined with video from four high-speed cameras to form a digitized full-motion version suspended in a 3-D grid viewable from any angle. But it’s not Avatar – it is the Mass General Orthopædics Sports Performance Center, which opened June 4 next to Gillette Stadium at the Brigham and Women’s/Mass General Health Care Center at Patriot Place in Foxborough.
This state-of-the-art facility combines the most advanced 3-D biomechanical imaging technology with the clinical expertise of MGH staff – including orthopædic surgeons, physical therapists, biomechanists, biomechanical engineers, performance trainers, nutritionists, athletic trainers and coaches – to help athletes prevent and recover from injury and improve their performance. Although the 3-D motion images are visually stunning, the real superstar is the data they provide. Sets of markers worn by the subject create accurate measurements of speed and forces across joints in the body. This information allows clinicians to assess how each part of the body moves. Experts compare it to looking at an entire 3-D puzzle at once instead of the separate segments provided by static 2-D images produced by an X-ray or MRI.
“The Mass General Orthopædics Sports Performance Center represents the most comprehensive combination of technology and clinical knowledge available,” says Center Director Eric Berkson, MD, an MGH orthopædic surgeon and Red Sox team physician. “The technology we have here allows us to view the whole-body motion in three dimensions, and from that data we are able to develop specialized training programs for injury recovery or for maximizing athletic performance.”
Although it can assess and prevent injury for any athlete at any level, the center has created specific programs to enhance performance for baseball players, golfers and runners. Be they amateurs or professionals, daily competitors or weekend warriors – athletes can benefit from individually designed performance programs that can guide return to play after injury or improve strength and flexibility. “We hope to continue using this technology to learn more about how the human body moves and experiences physical stress as we investigate ways to improve patient care and outcomes,” says Berkson.