By Will Schmidt

At the intersection of sports and technology we see a lot of wearables, partly because it’s a hot trend right now and partly because there’s a lot of room for new innovations. Look no further than Pulse Play and ShotTracker.

I want to encourage you, though, to hear past the noise created by these wearables – there are a lot of sports technologies outside of this market vertical. Now that’s not to say that wearables aren’t worth your time. It’s quite the contrary. I just think it’s important to not let the noise of a majority drown out the voices of others.

Recently, I put out some feelers to unearth some of these smaller, lesser publicized sports technologies and my investigation led me to Dr. Inigo San Millan and Dr. John Hill. Together the two founded a company called MuscleSound while working at the University of Colorado.

At the university the two worked closely with ultrasound technology on competitive cycling teams. As the imaging resolution and functionality for the ultrasound evolved over the years, the doctors one day saw something in their images.

Glycogen: A polysaccharide molecularly similar to starch, constituting the principal carbohydrate storage material in animals and occurring chiefly in the liver, in the muscle…

To put it simply, it’s carbohydrate energy that your body uses during the course of a high intensity workout and to refuel afterwards. Dr. Hill and Dr. Millan realized that if they could see glycogen being transported via water molecules into the muscles, they could then measure it. That is, they wanted to offer real time measurements of muscle glycogen levels.

It’s been a four year journey since Dr. Hill and Dr. Millan had this thought, and since then they’ve been busy getting patents, building the software platform, hiring a team, and validating their research through studies at University of Colorado and Appalachian State.

All of their hard work has yielded some amazing results. Using standard ultrasound technology, something that’s been around for decades, MuscleSound can measure muscle glycogen content in approximately 15 seconds.

If you’re having trouble imagining the benefit for athletes, let me walk you through an example. You’re getting ready for a major marathon, so you want to make sure your diet is on point. Instead of worrying that you’re not eating right, you could instead MuscleSound 40 hours prior to the race.

The scans would show if your levels are off, and to what degree they’re off. You could then make all the necessary adjustments to your diet enough time out to ensure optimal energy for your race.

Conversely, you can go in for a scan 40 hours after your race. If your levels are off here it could be an early indicator of a soft tissue injury, which you can then assess and build specific recovery plans for.

It’s immediate and personalized nutritional and performance based recommendations – that’s something that people haven’t really had access to when it comes to sports medicine. Effectively, you can optimize your entire training and diet regimen for performance and injury prevention, but you also know it’s working.

Why wouldn’t you want this data? The Colorado Rockies, one of our clients, have seen a total of only three soft tissue injuries combined in 2013 and 2014 because of MuscleSound. We can provide the protocol and provide the resources to help them use it correctly. And we can train anybody to use our system.

– David Ramich, CFO of MuscleSound
The big message the MuscleSound team wants to get across though is that this isn’t just relegated to the world of sports. In fact, healthcare and sports have always been deeply connected and benefited from having technological advancements on both sides of the coin.

Dr. Hill and Dr. Millan have done extensive work in the ICU and ER and found that critically ill patients have little to no glycogen in their muscles. They see MuscleSound as an opportunity to work with these institutions to change some policies, like hospital nutrition which is decades outdated.

There’s a need to get carbs in their system. We think we can improve the outcome of their recovery markedly.

– David Ramich
Beyond that though, it reaches as far to pre-surgery patients, cancer patients, and people with diabetes. The team believes these are all areas of the medial space they can improve with MuscleSound. They might be young still, but there are plenty of big name clients who can vouch for the benefits MuscleSound offers:

  • University of Colorado
  • Oregon State University
  • University of South Carolina
  • Colorado Rockies
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • St. Louis Rams
  • USA Cycling

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