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Carlton midfielder Ed Curnow is put through his paces in the Blues state-of-the-art lab under the watchful eyes of mechanical engineer Hossein Mokhtarzadeh and sports physio Sam Rosengarten. Picture: Andrew Tauber
20 Aug 2013
20 Aug 2013
by Grant McArthur (Herald Sun)

Carlton builds cutting edge lab to forecast when injuries might occur

CARLTON has built itself a state-of-the-art crystal ball to see injuries inside players long before they happen.

The radical $250,000 lab hidden inside Visy Park now has a University of Melbourne engineer calculating mathematic formulas so he can help tell coach Mick Malthouse when and how he can field his players.

Central to the cutting-edge program is an Australian-first gait lab, with 14 cameras recording and tracking every subtle movement of each player, and computers mapping the range of movement in each joint and how much force is on each point of their body.

When the maths shows a change in the player's usual patterns of movement, a warning is given of a impending injury and his training or way of moving can be altered.

Carlton's injury prevention co-ordinator Sam Rosengarten said the hi-tech lab shows when one part of the body is compensating for another, flagging injury even before it can be felt by a player or noticed by medical staff.

"This is all very exciting. This year all the soft tissue injuries we have had at the club, we have been able to flag ahead of them happening," Rosengarten said.

"For the people upstairs it has been a bit frustrating, and they say, 'It's great you've told us about it, but we need to stop these actually happening'. That is the next step for us, to bridge that gap."

Carlton has recruited mechanical engineer Hossein Mokhtarzadeh to crunch data collected through the weekly scanning of players and refine models to show when a player has strayed too far from his normal movement.

"Soft tissue tries to compensate and if it is exceeding the level of the soft tissue it is very simple: something will break, and usually what breaks is an ACL or something like that," Mokhtarzadeh said.

"We are hoping we will be able to look at the model (then) look at someone doing the movement and quickly see what is going on inside his body.

"All over the world many many other people are doing this just in labs, but we are bringing that cutting-edge technology to the end user to bridge that gap and say, 'If we know how these muscle forces lead to injury, then we can tell them to do the training this way or that way'."

It takes about two hours to put 90 per cent of the Carlton list, wearing non-reflective compression uniforms, through their paces in front of 3D cameras.

Midfielder Ed Curnow said it had become a normal part of the Blues week.

"It's just part of being a footballer now, it's just what we do two days after each game," Curnow said.

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