The Los Angeles Dodgers will be the first American sports team partnering with an Irish company to develop a computer-based sports injury prevention program that will begin at the minor league level.
Kitman Labs, a sports technology company with a history of providing European teams with data regarding athlete management and injury prevention, has worked with the Dodgers for a year to develop a comprehensive program specifically tailored to baseball players. Stan Conte, the Dodgers' vice president of medical services, said that he hopes to use biometric measurements with other workload metrics to identify players who might be at risk for injuries. He noted that the system had proven effective for professional soccer and rugby teams, and thinks it could work for baseball, as well.
"We're extremely intrigued by the concept and the potential of this system and now it's off the drawing board and into application," Conte said. "We're interested to see: Will it alert us to problems before they occur?"
Stephen Smith, the co-founder of Kitman Labs, was an athletic trainer in Ireland, working with professional rugby teams. His 19-person company recently opened a California office.
Initially, his company developed hardware that was too bulky to transport. One modification Kitman developed while working with the Dodgers was the use of a portable high-definition camera to capture movement patterns. The camera connects with a computer and the results are generated in real time.
Kitman compiles the data and runs the analysis, but it's up to the Dodgers to interpret and implement any findings from it.
"Our platform is a communications platform," Smith said. "How the team utilizes the information is up to them. But we feel we're enabling the staff to do some pretty smart things."
"It's not just the medical, not just the strength and conditioning, not just the performance," Conte said. "It's all that information put into one system."
The Dodgers are the first American team to partner with Kitman, but the company intends to sign on with other teams, as well.
"We have the potential to change the way analytics in sports medicine is utilized," Smith said.