Rethinking Healthcare

GE brings Olympic imaging tech to American football

GE brings Olympic imaging tech to American football

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To better care for athletes, GE is bringing laptop-sized ultrasound systems and mobile X-ray imaging to this year's BCS national championship game. Plus, reintroducing... Super Bowl Doc Ricardo Martinez.

This weekend, my newsfeed was jumbled with expletives, all caps followed with exclamation marks, Jets this, Pittsburgh that, one thing about Favre, and something about throwing on 3rd.

Last February, in the 12 victory hours in New Orleans after Super Bowl XLIV, the city’s emergency medical services (EMS) responded to 183 calls for service. From the end of the game until 2 a.m., every paramedic unit in the city went from one call immediately to the next.

In the stadium (whether it’s Miami or wherever else), Super Bowl Doc Ricardo Martinez and his team supervise every medical element during the game. Medical Sports Group was created to address the NFL’s desire to ensure that the Super Bowl provided “best in class” emergency planning and response for its patrons at changing venues.

“You’ll have about 100,000 to 120,000 people, a city,” says Martinez, who founded the group in 1988. “We deal with heart attacks, strokes, falls, industrial accidents.”

Each game has between 150 and 200 incidents with about 10 to 20 categorized as ‘major.’ “We also end up with multiple player injuries, with most quietly going in from the bench, and the occasional dramatic removal from the field,” he adds.

A couple weeks ago, at the Bowl Championship Series title game, GE Healthcare teamed up with the host stadium to boost athlete care by providing innovative, medical imaging technologies on site at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.

To better conduct scans of athletes for identifying existing injuries and helping to diagnose injuries occurring during the game, GE brought their Definium AMX 700 mobile, digital X-ray system and their LOGIQ e portable ultrasound.

These technologies were used at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, but this marked the first time compact ultrasound technology was available on site at a BCS bowl game.

The Definium AMX 700 (pictured above) is a mobile X-ray unit that can deliver the image quality of a stationary system in a small, agile unit. The system can acquire high-resolution digital images in seconds, potentially allowing for a quicker return to play for athletes.

The LOGIQ e (pictured right) is a lightweight, laptop-style ultrasound system for real-time diagnosis. Ultrasound imaging is great for the dynamic observation of anatomy, such as muscle or tendon fibers – enabling clinicians to quickly identify sites of injury or painful pathologies.

“The flexibility of these innovations combined with outstanding clinical capabilities gives physicians the tools necessary to help diagnose and treat injuries at the point of care with a high level of accuracy and efficiency,” says Omar Ishrak of GE Healthcare Systems, “allowing the teams to make better decisions regarding the athlete's playing status.”

Images: GE Healthcare

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Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure