Category: Sports Science and Health

Explore USA Health's Sports Medicine expertise.

Explore USA Health’s Sports Medicine expertise.

Discover comprehensive sports medicine care at USA Health, catering to both weekend warriors and serious athletes. Our expert team, comprised of orthopedic surgeons, family sports medicine physicians, athletic trainers, and physical therapists, provides top-notch services for prevention, diagnosis, management, and rehabilitation.

Utilizing advanced imaging technology, we tailor personalized treatment plans, addressing a range of injuries and conditions from ACL and meniscus injuries to concussions and overuse injuries. Trust our experienced specialists to guide you towards a swift return to your normal activity level.

Designated Sports Medicine Provider The Sports Medicine Department extends its services to the following entities:

  • ACCEL Academy
  • Alma Bryant High School
  • Baker High School
  • B.C. Rain High School
  • Citronelle High School
  • Davidson High School
  • LeFlore High School
  • Mary G. Montgomery High School
  • Mattie T. Blount High School
  • Mobile Ballet
  • Murphy High School
  • Spring Hill College
  • St. Luke’s Episcopal School
  • Theodore High School
  • University of South Alabama
  • Vigor High School
  • Williamson High School”
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Common Sports Injuries: A Top 10 List

Common Sports Injuries: A Top 10 List

Introduction: Whether you’re a dedicated athlete or a casual weekend participant, injuries can happen unexpectedly, leaving you uncertain about the nature of the injury and how best to address it. In this article, Brian McEvoy, PT from UnityPoint Health, guides us through a countdown of common sports injuries, shedding light on their causes, treatments, and recovery strategies.

1. Hip Flexor Strain: A strain in the hip flexor muscles, situated on the upper-front side of the thigh, can occur due to prolonged sitting or strenuous activities like sprinting and quick turns. Symptoms include pain while raising the leg and potential bruising. Initial treatment involves rest and ice, followed by heat application after 48 to 72 hours. Prolonged discomfort may necessitate physical therapy for comprehensive recovery.

2. ACL Tear or Strain: The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee is often injured during abrupt changes in direction. Symptoms include instability, swelling, and difficulty walking. Minor tears may heal with rest and ice, while complete tears require surgery and an extensive recovery period, including physical therapy.

3. Concussion: A concussion, a brain injury resulting from a head blow, demands serious attention. Symptoms encompass headaches, confusion, dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, light sensitivity, and delayed responses. Athletes must not return to play without clearance from a qualified healthcare professional. Treatment involves rest, reduced mental and physical stress, and a gradual return to activities.

4. Groin Pull: Also known as a groin strain, this injury affects the muscles running from the upper-inner thigh to just above the knee. Quick side-to-side movements or lack of flexibility can cause difficulty with lateral movements and tenderness in the groin. Treatment involves rest, ice, heat, and gentle stretching after the initial 72 hours.

5. Shin Splints: Common in runners and athletes engaged in high-impact activities, shin splints cause pain in the lower leg bone (tibia). Rest, ice, gradual activity increase, and proper footwear with arch support are key to prevention and treatment.

6. Sciatica: Sciatica, back pain radiating down the leg or feet, is prevalent in athletes with specific postures, such as cyclists or those in swing sports like golf and tennis. Rest, stretching, and changing positions can alleviate symptoms. Persistent discomfort requires professional medical attention, such as physical therapy.

Conclusion: Being aware of common sports injuries, their causes, and appropriate treatments is crucial for athletes at all levels. While some injuries may heal with self-care, seeking professional guidance ensures a thorough recovery and minimizes the risk of long-term issues.

7. Hamstring Strain: Situated at the back of the thigh, the hamstring muscles are prone to tightness and strains, commonly known as pulled muscles. Inadequate stretching techniques or a lack of stretching can contribute to a hamstring tear. Athletes with this injury may experience bruising in the back of the thigh or knee. Early treatment involves rest and icing, followed by gentle stretching and strengthening exercises. Persistent pain beyond two weeks may warrant physical therapy, incorporating methods like ultrasound to facilitate muscle healing.

8. Tennis or Golf Elbow: Frequent gripping activities in tennis or golf can lead to overuse injuries like tennis or golfer’s elbow, known as medial or lateral epicondylitis. Repetitive motions can cause inflammation in the forearm tendons, resulting in painful wrist and hand movements and decreased grip strength. Initial treatment includes rest, icing, and, if necessary, anti-inflammatory medication or a brace to alleviate pressure. Occupational or physical therapists can employ stretching techniques and strengthening exercises to reduce stiffness and gradually restore strength, enabling athletes to return to their sports.

9. Shoulder Injury: Shoulder injuries encompass various issues, such as dislocations, misalignments, muscle strains, and ligament sprains. The shoulder, being the body’s weakest joint, is susceptible to force during athletic activities. Lack of flexibility, strength, or stabilization can contribute to these injuries. Treatment begins with rest and icing for pain and swelling relief, with persistent pain requiring evaluation by a physical therapist.

10. Patellofemoral Syndrome: A prevalent knee injury, patellofemoral syndrome, can result from a fall onto the knees, knee joint swelling, or muscle imbalance. This syndrome arises when the kneecap (patella) fails to smoothly track in the femur’s groove. Rest and ice are initial measures for pain and swelling, followed by isometric strengthening exercises for the inner thigh muscle and gentle stretching for the outer thigh muscles to correct muscle imbalances. If symptoms persist beyond two weeks, consulting a physical therapist for more targeted stretching and strengthening, possibly incorporating knee taping or bracing techniques, is advisable.


Sports medicine evolves: Boosting injury care globally.

Sports medicine evolves: Boosting injury care globally.

Whether in a World Cup or Olympic event, injuries pose a significant challenge for elite athletes. Kentaro Onishi, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a doctor with the International Olympic Committee, deems current sports medicine as “extremely primitive.” Utilizing ultrasound technology for less invasive surgeries, Onishi addresses common injuries, particularly tendon problems.

Despite limited treatment options focusing on symptom management, Onishi, along with fellow researchers, aims to revolutionize sports medicine. With Department of Defense funding, he is developing a lotion targeting tissue-scarring molecules, offering preventive measures for athletes. This innovative approach has the potential to reshape the treatment paradigm and proactively safeguard athletes from tendon injuries. STAT discusses Onishi’s use of technology and the current state of sports medicine in a condensed interview.

How do you assess the World Cup’s approach to injuries?

They’re performing admirably. Unlike previous Cups where players with concussions returned on the same day, which sparked controversy, this World Cup has seen no significant issues. The doctors appear to be handling situations effectively.

Discuss your 2021 Tokyo Olympics experience.

Being my hometown, it fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming an Olympic doctor. Six years post-sports medicine fellowship at Mayo Clinic, I returned to Tokyo, working with the IOC research team. It was a beautiful way to realize my childhood dream in my home city.

My role involved introducing portable ultrasound technology, fitting in a pocket for on-the-spot diagnoses of fractures or tendon muscle tears. Unlike tradition, the Olympics didn’t offer this on-site; instead, it was at the Polyclinic. Tokyo Olympics, the largest human sporting event within a Covid bubble, posed infection risks in athlete transfers. Dr. Freddie Fu proposed bringing ultrasound to athletes, initiating the IOC venue ultrasound program. Initially offered at seven venues, including new sports like three-by-three basketball, it was based on the injury illness surveillance program during the Olympics, identifying high-risk sports requiring robust medical support. Venue ultrasound empowered better decisions through imaging, a departure from clinical exams.

What sets ultrasound apart from other imaging technologies?

Consider a simple X-ray machine or an MRI, both requiring dedicated rooms to prevent unnecessary radiation exposure or interference with devices like pacemakers. Even if the Olympics could afford to bring MRI to the venue, it necessitates a dedicated space. In contrast, an ultrasound machine, compact enough to fit in a pocket, is the only imaging tool that offers portability.

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However, its effective use requires a skilled physician. The success of this project was uniquely possible in Japan due to the high ultrasound literacy among Japanese doctors. Out of the 14 injuries evaluated using ultrasound, the diagnostic accuracy was 100%, matching clinical gold standards like MRI.

How do you utilize ultrasound for injury diagnosis?

Clinical examinations are not foolproof; even with skilled doctors, it’s not 100%. To enhance accuracy, crucial in sports medicine, especially at the Olympics, where a misdiagnosis can impact an athlete’s participation in a gold medal match, we employ ultrasound for timely and precise diagnosis.

In the ever-evolving realm of sports, are sports medicine practices keeping pace with athletes’ advancements?

Yes, but there’s a need for change. Many sports medicine practices are based on tradition rather than scientific facts, passed down through mentorship. To keep up with athletes pushing boundaries, we must break away from these habits. Anticipating challenges like increased tendon problems due to intensive training for feats like a sub two-hour marathon, we need to understand the biological or even genetic basis of injuries and focus on reversing them instead of relying on traditional palliative care like steroid injections.

The underlying question is why we engage in certain actions. Independent research, focused on understanding the biological basis of topics, is crucial. Despite the lack of elegance in research, the diligence and time invested, such as pipetting stem cells in a petri dish, are necessary. This effort leads to innovative treatment options enabling athletes to achieve their functional or performance goals.

Is there a conflict between the pressure on athletes to resume play and the need for proper injury treatment?

Certainly, and I adhere to the fundamental principle: the patient’s well-being is the primary concern. I don’t engage with coaches unless athletes express a desire to return quickly. Even when athletes generally aim to return to sports, I inquire about their specific goals. Surprisingly, some athletes, even at the Olympic level, may prioritize recovery over an immediate return. This communication is vital, as aggressive interventions for a quicker return may entail higher risks than less invasive options. Alignment with athletes’ goals is essential.

What moments in your career have been particularly rewarding?

While medicine often focuses on prolonging life, my fulfillment comes from enhancing its quality. Witnessing elderly individuals with arthritis pursue goals like enjoying a beach hike with their grandchild is as gratifying to me as the achievements of top Olympic athletes on the world stage.

For instance, treating a world-class decathlete for various injuries, I anxiously watched him compete at the World Track and Field Championships from Japan, hoping the treated injury wouldn’t hinder him. The relief and joy when he emerged as the world’s top competitor were immense. These tangible outcomes, beyond just extending life, can profoundly impact individuals, such as high school athletes treated in time to secure a state championship win and a college scholarship—contributing to shaping their life paths.


Boost bone health: Tips for stronger bones.

Boost bone health: Tips for stronger bones.

Did you know 50+ million Americans have low bone density? After 50, the risk exceeds 50%, leading to fractures and fatal outcomes. Learn how to enhance bone health as we explore age-related changes in bone density.

Bones, dynamic organs, undergo continuous remodeling, replacing old tissue with new. Aging disrupts this balance, causing a loss of bone density, leading to osteoporosis. Peak density occurs around 30, declining at 1% annually. Exercise, particularly impactful and resistance training, proves vital in maintaining and increasing bone density.

Not all exercises are equal; impact-related aerobic activities and weight training, especially squats and deadlifts, are crucial. Jump training, once reserved for athletes, is now recognized for enhancing bone density in older populations. Optimal bone development involves a blend of weight and jump training.

How much exercise promotes good bone health?

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Three weekly weight training sessions and three jump sessions offer optimal benefits. Combine heavy weight training (3 sessions/week) with 1-2 jump sessions. Add 3-5 lighter impactful aerobic exercises like skipping or jogging.

Can excessive exercise harm bone health?

Yes, somewhat, but it’s not solely due to exercise (MacKnight, 2017). Athletes aren’t at higher risk solely because of training; exercise improves bone density. Intense training may cause tissue breakdown, but with proper recovery and nutrition, it stimulates new bone and muscle growth. Inadequate recovery, however, can lead to sustained bone mineral density loss.

Consider nutrition: meet energy demands for recovery, and consume Vitamin D, magnesium, calcium, and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, seafood, and dairy.

Top tips for increasing bone density:

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  1. Lift weights with compound movements 3 times/week.
  2. Perform jump training 1-2 times/week.
  3. Include impact aerobic exercises 3-5 times/week.
  4. Eat enough energy for workout recovery.
  5. Consume sufficient protein (~1.6 grams/kg of body weight/day) for training recovery.
  6. Supplement with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D.
  7. Maintain a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, seafood, and dairy.

Key Takeaway: While age-related bone density loss is common, it’s not inevitable. Through proper exercise and a nutritious diet, you can maintain and enhance bone density, safeguarding against various health issues throughout your life.


  1. Demontiero, O., Vidal, C., & Duque, G. (2012). Aging and bone loss: new insights for the clinician. Therapeutic advances in musculoskeletal disease, 4(2), 61-76.
  2. Carter, M. I., & Hinton, P. S. (2014). Physical activity and bone health. Missouri medicine, 111(1), 59.
  3. Benedetti, M. G., et al. (2018). The effectiveness of physical exercise on bone density in osteoporotic patients. BioMed research international, 2018.
  4. Kato, T., et al. (2006). Effect of low-repetition jump training on bone mineral density in young women. Journal of Applied Physiology, 100(3), 839-843.
  5. Hinton, P. S., Nigh, P., & Thyfault, J. (2015). Effectiveness of resistance training or jumping-exercise to increase bone mineral density in men with low bone mass: A 12-month randomized, clinical trial. Bone, 79, 203-212.
  6. MacKnight, J. M. (2017). Osteopenia and osteoporosis in female athletes. Clinics in sports medicine, 36(4), 687-702.
  7. Sahni, S., et al. (2015). Dietary approaches for bone health: lessons from the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Current osteoporosis reports, 13(4), 245-255.


Team sports benefit young bones more than solo running.

Team sports benefit young bones more than solo running.

In Indianapolis, a recent Indiana University study suggests that young athletes engaging in multidirectional sports, rather than specializing in unidirectional activities like running, can cultivate stronger bones, potentially reducing the risk of adult bone injuries. Published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the research focused on Division I and II female cross country runners prone to bone stress injuries.

The findings indicate that those participating in multidirectional sports during their youth, such as basketball or soccer, exhibited superior bone structure and strength compared to those exclusively involved in running, swimming, or cycling. Consequently, the study recommends delaying specialization in running, emphasizing the benefits of engaging in diverse sports to develop a more resilient skeleton and potentially prevent bone stress injuries.

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Stuart Warden, associate dean for research and Chancellor’s Professor in the IU School of Health and Human Sciences at IUPUI, remarked, “Our data shows that playing multidirectional sports when younger versus specializing in one sport, such as running, decreased a person’s bone injury risk by developing a bigger, stronger skeleton.” He challenges the common belief that early specialization is necessary for success at higher levels, citing recent data suggesting that young athletes specializing too early face a higher risk of overuse injuries and are less likely to progress to advanced competition levels.

Warden advises caution for parents, coaches, and trainers overseeing junior athletes, urging them to reconsider early specialization. To support proper growth, he suggests young athletes refrain from specialization until at least their freshman year of high school. For those already engaged in multidirectional sports, he emphasizes the importance of taking breaks for rest and recovery throughout the year to enhance both bone strength and performance.

Additional contributors to the study include Austin Sventeckis, a Ph.D. student, Robyn Fuchs, an associate professor at the IU School of Health and Human Sciences at IUPUI, and Rachel Surowiec from the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI.


Reap the hidden rewards of strength training for injury recovery!

Reap the hidden rewards of strength training for injury recovery!

You’ve likely come across information in numerous magazine articles or from health professionals about how strength training can enhance performance and prevent injuries. However, many are unaware of the additional benefits until they personally experience them.

At SFE, we often describe strength training as a vehicle—a means of empowering individuals to address not only their weaknesses but also to consider various factors integral to a comprehensive strength and conditioning program: mindset, nutrition, recovery, lifestyle balance, and more.

Challenging times are inevitable for all of us, not solely as athletes but as human beings. These are moments when a diagnosis, suboptimal health, or an injury prevents us from engaging in the sports we love, leading to a sense of despair and the question, “What am I going to do now that I can’t do anything?”

It’s probable that during such times, the toll on your mental well-being will be substantial. The activities you engage in, your chosen sport, your passions, and the camaraderie with fellow trainees—all can profoundly impact your life when suddenly inaccessible.

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Drawing from both personal and client experiences, it becomes evident that strength training serves as a remarkably potent tool not only for navigating these setbacks but also for surmounting them. Strength training not only facilitates emerging from injuries as a physically stronger athlete but also as a more knowledgeable one than before.

In the subsequent discussion, we will explore four advantages that strength training could offer the next time you find yourself sidelined due to injury or simply yearning for a change when things become stagnant.

BENEFIT #1: ORGANIZATION Having a structured strength program essentially serves as a roadmap. It provides you with the opportunity to simplify your approach, focusing on activities within your capabilities rather than fixating on those you cannot perform.

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While certain exercises may be off-limits due to specific injuries or conditions, it doesn’t necessitate a complete cessation of activity. There will always be a range of exercises that you can engage in, maintaining a healthier routine on a daily basis.

Whether you’re grappling with overcoming a performance plateau, recovering from an injury, or optimizing health by addressing body weight and blood markers, the need for a structured plan is crucial. Essentially, we must reorient ourselves and adopt a new perspective. When your regular training sessions are no longer part of your schedule, having the structure of a strength and conditioning session to recalibrate your day becomes immensely advantageous.

BENEFIT #2: INSPIRATION If you’re grappling with persistent injuries or suboptimal health, achieving peak performance may seem elusive. However, when it comes to factors within your control—with a bit of effort and time—this realization should serve as ample motivation. It becomes a compelling drive to unlock the full potential of your body and excel in your sport.

Times of setbacks and injury can be demoralizing, yet you possess the ability to shift the narrative. By leveraging your strength training, you can proactively initiate positive changes in your lifestyle and behaviors. Questions such as how to maintain physical strength, enhance bone quality, and condition tendons, ligaments, and muscles find their answer in strength training.

BENEFIT #3: PURPOSE Working on weaknesses, adhering to rehab exercises, or addressing nutritional aspects bestows a sense of purpose. While your imminent goal might not be the planned race, incorporating milestones and objectives within your strength program provides the essential sense of purpose needed to foster positivity.

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Even if circumstances limit your physical activity, numerous aspects within your strength training regimen can demand your focus. This positions you favorably for the future, ensuring that when the green light is given, you’re prepared and have already laid the groundwork.

BENEFIT #4: HABIT FORMATION The potency of purpose is transformative, capable of building upon itself. One positive habit can easily multiply until your week is brimming with proactive and effective tasks, propelling you steadily toward your optimal state.

As the benefits of a consistent strength and conditioning program become evident, discussions can expand to improving recovery protocols, optimizing nutritional intake, refining training periodization, and identifying areas for enhancement during this ‘downtime.’ The result is a return that leaves you stronger, fitter, and healthier than ever before.

Can Strength Training Aid Injury Recovery?

Can Strength Training Aid Injury Recovery?

Athletes often push through pain during training, hesitating to take sufficient recovery time. While strength training during injury recovery may seem counterintuitive, proper guidance can yield profound effects, fostering a stronger recuperation. Can you initiate strength training during injury? And does it contribute to injury prevention?

Neural pathways in the nervous system The central nervous system (CNS) oversees awareness and movement coordination, working in tandem with the peripheral nervous system (PNS), composed of sensory and motor neurons. Sensory neurons perceive environmental signals, while motor neurons relay messages to muscles for response. Exercise’s positive impact on brain health is well-established, and recent animal studies link it to CNS functions such as circadian rhythms, sleep cycles, stress resilience, and hormone regulation. Exercise also promotes cellular healing. While the CNS has limited self-healing capacity, the regenerative PNS can stimulate nerve regrowth following injury at a rate of up to 1 mm per day, bridging gaps of 1 cm.

Strength training and the nervous system A recent Journal of Neuroscience study explores how strength training induces CNS changes, particularly in the spinal cords of female macaques. These spinal cord changes persist even after a two-week strength training hiatus. Weightlifting learning activates the release of nerve growth factors, facilitating the formation of new neural pathways between the PNS and CNS.

Moderate exercise supports myelin sheath regeneration, the nerve insulation promoting better signal conduction to motor nerves controlling muscle fibers. Resistance training for healing extends beyond young athletes, as demonstrated in a study on older adults with type 2 diabetes. The study revealed improved symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, nerve conduction, blood sugar, and arterial stiffness through resistance training.

Resistance training during early injury recovery While sidelined from intense sports due to injury, integrating resistance training is feasible. Use kettlebells or resistance bands for targeted muscle work at home. For runners, incorporating weight in a backpack (“rucking”) during walking builds muscle and endurance. Bodyweight exercises enhance balance, coordination, and calorie burn. Yoga fosters flexibility and holistic body appreciation. Adequate sleep and hydration are crucial for the body’s repair.

Neuromuscular changes induced by resistance training aid nerves in recruiting and firing muscle fibers, enhancing efficiency. Improved range of motion and increased strength can be achieved before notable muscle mass changes. Squats and deadlifts, over weeks, empower strides by engaging lower extremity muscles. Core strength progress reduces back pain.

Preventing injuries through strength training Collaborating with a trainer attuned to your goals helps injury prevention. Nordic hamstring exercises, integrated into training, cut soccer players’ hamstring injury incidence by 51%. Soccer prevention training early in the week reduces match-day soreness.

For runners, weight training strengthens the brain-muscle connection, optimizing stride muscle recruitment. This shift eases hamstring workload, fostering a stronger run and protecting knee and hamstring tendons. Basketball players benefit by fortifying knees and ankles, crucial for rapid movements.

Strength training and cardio synergy Research endorses resistance training for overall athletic enhancement. Recent studies highlight joint neuromuscular characteristics’ impact on force generation. Leg muscle and tendon stiffness contribute to runners’ energy recycling and improved running economy.

A randomized trial found a combined strength and endurance program significantly enhancing body composition, strength, and endurance in 30–40-year-old runners. The combined program demonstrated superior running economy compared to an endurance-focused one.

Strength training’s dual role Solid evidence supports strength training for injury prevention. Beyond, it aids recovery by leveraging neuromuscular connections. Personal trainers instill preventive habits, while physical therapists guide weight training integration in recovery.


Guard Against Sports Injuries: Essential Tips

Against Sports Injuries: Essential Tips

When addressing sports-related injuries, our focus tends to be on professional or organized scholastic sports. Yet, numerous injuries in the United States stem from casual basketball or football games, along with incidents in cycling and running. The November 2016 National Health and Statistics report revealed an estimated 8.6 million annual sports and recreational-related injuries. Delve into the types of sports causing the most injuries and effective prevention strategies. Recreational sports, serving purposes like physical fitness and social interaction, can be categorized into contact, extreme, and non-contact activities.

Contact Recreational Sports: These sports often have a high injury ratio due to their aggressive nature.

American Football: Considered one of the most physical recreational sports, football leads to various injuries. The knee joint is commonly affected, including injuries to the cartilaginous medial or lateral menisci, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). Shoulder, wrist, and hand injuries are also prevalent, with muscle strains frequently occurring in the lower back. Traumatic head injuries (concussions) are a serious concern in both organized and pick-up games.

Basketball: Ankle injuries are common in basketball due to running, jumping, and occasional awkward landings. Finger and hand injuries, particularly dislocated and jammed fingers, are also frequent.

Soccer: As the most popular sport globally, soccer is gaining popularity in the United States. Common injuries include strains of the hamstring and groin, along with frequent occurrences in the knee, ankle, and Achilles tendon. Similar to American football, traumatic head injuries (concussions) are a serious concern.

Extreme Sports: Fractured bones are prevalent in extreme sports like skateboarding and snowboarding, driven by athletes attempting dangerous maneuvers for the adrenaline rush.”

Other Extreme Sports:

  • Surfing, particularly in large waves
  • Rock climbing
  • Wingsuit flying
  • Whitewater kayaking
  • Skiing
  • Skydiving
  • Base jumping (leaping off a fixed object and deploying a parachute)

Non-contact Recreational Sports: While generally less perilous than contact or extreme sports, injuries still occur.

Cycling: Cycling, a popular outdoor activity, poses risks of serious injuries from falls, including head injuries, skin abrasions, and fractures. Mountain biking, in particular, sees frequent falls due to unpredictable terrains. Indoor cycling also carries risks, such as lower extremity tendonitis and muscle strains.

Running and Jogging: Engaging in running and jogging can result in various injuries:

  • Iliotibial band syndrome: Pain from inflammation in the fibrous band on the outer leg.
  • Plantar fasciitis: Pain caused by fascial tissue inflammation on the sole of the foot.
  • Stress fractures: Tiny bone cracks due to repetitive force from overuse.
  • Runner’s knee: Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome.
  • Shin splints: Microtears in muscle and bone tissue surrounding the shin.

Rowing: While some prefer rowing machines or outdoor rowing for exercise, overuse can lead to strains in the lower back, knees, and ribs.

Swimming: Compared to other non-contact sports, swimming is among the least injury-prone due to its low impact on muscles, tendons, and bones, thanks to the cushioning effect of water. However, injuries can still occur from muscle overuse, especially in the shoulder, neck, and back.


"Sports science and technology's impact on modern football."

“Sports science and technology’s impact on modern football.”

The profound impact of science and technology extends across numerous sectors and global cultures, revolutionizing fields such as education, healthcare, and agriculture, thereby enhancing the quality of life for countless individuals.

In the realm of major sports, particularly football, the influence of Sports Science & Technology is undeniable. While the transformative role it plays in the modern game is widely acknowledged, it often goes underappreciated. Let’s explore three ways in which Sports Science & Technology have molded the sport we love.

1. GPS Tracking: In recent years, keen observers of football may have noticed a common sight – players donning tightly fitted black sports vests beneath their jerseys. These vests contain a compact piece of wearable technology, no larger than a credit card, discreetly situated at the back. This technology records essential data such as player speed, position, velocity, acceleration, and distance covered. Coaches and analysts utilize this information in both matches and training sessions to optimize player performance and preparation.

2. Goal Line Technology: The clamor for goal-line technology in football persisted for years, fueled by controversial incidents like Liverpool’s “ghost goal” in 2005 and England’s denied goal in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Finally, in 2012, the technology became a reality. It is seamlessly integrated into the game, with referees wearing smartwatches that vibrate to signal when the ball has crossed the line. This innovation has ushered in a new era of fairness, eliminating debates over legitimate goals and significantly benefiting not only the sport but also football betting.

3. Video Assisted Referees (VAR): Introduced in 2016, VAR comprises a team of assistant referees armed with video replays and a three-dimensional line system to assist in decisions regarding fouls, offside situations, and red card offenses. While opinions on VAR’s impact on the game vary, it has become an integral part of modern football and seems poised to continue shaping the sport for years to come.


Sports scientists revolutionizing college football.

“Sports scientists revolutionizing college football.”

Amid the aroma of bacon filling Schembechler Hall on a spring morning in Ann Arbor, an unconventional office stands out. Fergus Connolly, positioned away from the hustle and bustle, overlooks Michigan’s football training table. His office, adorned with heaps of journal articles, is flanked by two robust metal bookshelves housing an assortment of reading materials, ranging from ancient Chinese medicine to psychological effects of soldier training. Heart rate variability monitors, GPS trackers, and sleep tracking tools sit on the shelves. Connolly’s room is just a fraction of his arsenal, as he possesses various cutting-edge gadgets and data collection instruments throughout the building.

However, Connolly’s interest lies not just in equipment but in the people who operate it. His education in advanced manufacturing and computer science taught him that technology alone is insufficient. “There are no answers in the data,” he asserts, his Irish accent adding a touch of incongruity to the room. “They help you ask better questions.”

Over the past decade, college athletic departments have poured substantial funds into acquiring state-of-the-art technology to gain a competitive edge. In this rush to embrace innovation, many institutions overlooked the importance of investing in knowledgeable personnel and the time required to harness the potential of these high-tech tools.

Connolly is part of a wave of sports scientists from abroad who seek to impart the philosophy that underpins the sports tech boom. They aim to integrate data collection into the broader coaching strategy and fear that time is running out.

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“Some coaches are growing skeptical of sports scientists due to a lack of overwhelming success,” says Greg Haff, president of the National Strength & Conditioning Association. “I think we’re at a crossroads.”

This journey traces back over 40 years, to Australia’s decision to enhance its athletic performance following a dismal showing in the 1976 Olympics. The Australian Institute of Sport, founded in the early ’80s, recognized the need to maximize their athletes’ potential and keep them healthy. Sports science played a pivotal role from the outset.

The Australians pioneered tools like GPS trackers to pinpoint and rectify their athletes’ shortcomings. By the time they hosted the 2000 Olympics, Australia claimed fourth place with 58 medals, surpassing many larger nations. Other affluent, smaller countries followed suit, establishing similar institutes of sport to advance the science of sports performance.

When American colleges and professional teams began exploring this field, the fitness technology industry was booming. These companies marketed their devices as miracle solutions for success. In places where these solutions fell short, skepticism grew, and faith returned to coaches’ instincts developed through years of experience.

Connolly and his peers argue that this approach contradicts the original model of developing tools to address weaknesses and improve performance. Many institutions are now buying tools with preconceived answers in mind, before even knowing the questions.

Connolly aptly summarizes the situation: “If the only thing you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. The key is being able to identify the issue and coming up with a solution. Like a skilled craftsman, you have to go back to your toolbox and choose the right tool to fix it.”

The toolbox here isn’t just filled with high-tech gear like GPS trackers, sleep pods, and motion capture systems; it’s also populated by a team of experts. Nutritionists, athletic trainers, strength and conditioning specialists, sports psychologists, and coaches all coexist in a collaborative environment. Their goal is to create a comprehensive approach to enhance both the physical and mental aspects of athletes’ performance.

Penn State recently enlisted Dave Hamilton, who hails from England and boasts experience in sports institutes in Scotland and England, to bring this holistic approach to all 31 teams on campus. Football coach James Franklin values Hamilton’s input as a resource and sounding board, especially for maintaining player health and strength. Franklin appreciates that Hamilton doesn’t present himself as a one-size-fits-all solution.

According to Franklin, “Sports science provides a piece of information. As you take those pieces and combine it with the experience you’ve gained over so many years, that’s one more slice of the pie that you can use as a tool. The people that try to sell it like that lose coaches and lose the people that understand and respect the game.”

Hamilton’s primary focus since joining Penn State has been aligning the various groups that can benefit athletes. He notes that currently, people often work independently, failing to maximize their skills and contribute to the program. Hamilton stresses that technology and collaboration are key, with the latter being the most crucial element.

Collaboration becomes essential when addressing complex issues. For instance, suppose a football team consistently surrenders leads in the fourth quarter. The strength coach identifies physical shortcomings, the nutritionist identifies fluid replenishment problems at halftime, and the sports psychologist spots mental blocks in high-pressure situations. In this scenario, collaboration is the solution.

Using tools like heart rate-variability monitors and GPS trackers, they discover that overexertion in the second and third quarters is caused by players being out of position. The problem isn’t physical; it’s tactical, and it would have been challenging to identify without technology and someone who can interpret it.

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However, effective collaboration requires a common language, which remains a significant challenge in the sports science industry’s integration into college athletic departments. While there are American experts in the holistic model, many sports scientists are trained in countries where football and the college sports culture are unfamiliar.

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens hired Scottish-born Andrew Murray to oversee the Ducks’ performance center. Murray, who previously worked in Qatar, admits that adapting to football has been a significant adjustment. He learned some Arabic more quickly than he learned football but is making progress.

Notre Dame was an early adopter of the sports institute philosophy when they hired Duncan French in 2016. Mike Harrity, responsible for Notre Dame’s sports science initiative, sought someone with a coaching mentality to enhance communication. French has since moved to the UFC, and Harrity is looking for a replacement with a similar approach.

American experts like Greg Haff emphasize that communication should be a two-way street. Haff moved to Australia to understand their successful sports science methods. He noticed that coaches there take sports science courses to learn the basics of using data for athlete improvement.

The structure of sports overseas differs from college sports, where head coaches control every aspect of player development. Haff stresses that for sports science to succeed, head coaches must buy into its potential benefits.

Coaches need to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Each athlete is unique, with individual variables like learning styles, sources of stress, injury history, and personality types that affect performance.

This brings us back to Fergus Connolly’s office at Michigan. His sole request upon arrival was a massive black recliner, not for himself but for players and coaches visiting him. Relying solely on technology creates the illusion that problems can be solved in isolation, much like changing a line of code. However, human beings are far more complex, and Connolly believes that understanding the broader picture is crucial before using the wealth of tools and knowledge at their disposal to find solutions.

“The idea was that if they have a comfortable chair to sit in, the athletes that come in to talk will stay for an extra 10 or 20 minutes and maybe I’ll learn a bit more about them,” Connolly said. “That’s the most important tool I’ve got.”


The Football's Scientific Side

“The Football’s Scientific Side”

From curving balls and advanced shin pads to dietary insights and goalkeeper tactics, it’s evident that science has firmly embedded itself in the realm of the beautiful game, alongside passionate managers and enthusiastic fans. Science and football, though seemingly an odd pair, are now intertwined, influencing aspects from training methodologies to ball construction. As World Cup fever rages on, Laboratory News reveals the scientific elements that could be the game-changer for football to truly come home this year.

Understanding the science behind football has gained prominence within the football community. Football science is no longer just an afterthought; it’s now big business, transforming training routines and even ball design. Sir Clive Woodward, the director of football at Southampton, recently hired Dr. Ken Bray, a specialist in ball physics and author of “How to Score,” as the club’s science advisor. Dr. Bray’s expertise delves into the secrets of bending the ball, promising players an ‘unstoppable’ free kick. Let’s delve into the fascinating scientific aspects that are revolutionizing the sport.

The Evolution of the Football

Football’s roots can be traced back to the 8th century in England, but the game was initially chaotic and violent, often played by a multitude of participants. The modern version of the game with recognizable rules took shape in the 19th century within English schools and universities.

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The first footballs were simply inflated pig or sheep bladders, knotted at the ends. In 1862, the introduction of a rubber bladder and a pump revolutionized ball production, allowing for the creation of spherical balls that retained their shape. Today’s footballs are crafted from leather patches, sewn together in a pattern inspired by the Buckminster ball, a design grounded in scientific principles. The modern football, a Bucky Ball, consists of 20 hexagonal and 12 pentagonal surfaces, which, when assembled and inflated, create a nearly perfect sphere.

Mastering the Art of Kicking

Kicking a football may seem straightforward, but the sport demands more than randomly booting a ball across the pitch. Skill plays a crucial role, and it turns out that science plays a prominent role in honing this skill.

Some players appear naturally gifted, while others work tirelessly to enhance their abilities. Could genetics influence football prowess? Research from the UK suggests a connection between the length of a player’s ring finger and their skill. Dr. John Manning of the University of Liverpool found that elite players often have longer ring fingers compared to their index fingers, indicating a possible genetic advantage related to spatial judgment ability.

Whether a player’s talent is genetic or not, rigorous training is indispensable, and science guides this process. In a standard match, a midfielder covers approximately seven miles, requiring not only stamina but also power. Plyometric training, initially developed in the Soviet Union in the 1960s, has been integrated into football training regimens. It focuses on the two different ways footballers use their muscles: concentric contractions, which shorten muscles, and eccentric contractions, which lengthen them under tension. Plyometrics trains players to swiftly switch between these two types of muscle contractions, targeting both muscles and the controlling nerve fibers.

As footballers engage in these alternating muscle movements, their energy stores can be depleted. During a match, a player’s activity can consume most of the glycogen in their leg muscles. Nutritional science plays a vital role in addressing this issue.

Carbohydrates are the cornerstone of a footballer’s diet. Research conducted with an English football team demonstrated that a glucose-containing sports drink consumed during games led to fewer goals conceded and more goals scored, especially in the second half. In contrast, an artificially flavored placebo reduced players’ activity and ball contacts during the final 30 minutes of the game. This research suggests that consuming 12-14 ounces of a sports drink, providing about 30 grams of carbohydrate, before the match and at halftime is ideal for a 90-minute game.

The Science of Smart Clothing

Innovation extends to football equipment, with materials science company d3o collaborating with sportswear specialists like Sells to develop smart clothing that combines flexibility and rigidity. This technology allows goalkeeper gloves to flex when reaching to save a penalty and immediately stiffen upon impact. The intelligent material operates on a molecular level, with molecules temporarily forming cross-links during impact to absorb energy and provide stiffness. Once the impact subsides, the molecules return to their free-flowing state.

This same material has been used to create shin pads that can reduce the force transmitted to a player’s leg by up to 70%. While some believe this might reduce dramatic falls during matches, others argue that old habits die hard.

Unraveling the Secrets of Swerving Shots

Taking a closer look at the art of striking free kicks, the Magnus force and the Bernoulli principle come into play. These forces and equations describe how a ball swerves when spin is applied. Achieving the perfect swerve involves hitting the ball with just the right amount of power and spin to manipulate the airflow and ensure it curves past the defenders and goalkeeper.

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While it may not be the conscious thought of players like Beckham, these scientific principles guide their actions. Nevertheless, players have an inherent difficulty in blocking balls struck with sidespin, as the human visual system is not naturally adapted to predict the trajectory of spinning objects.

Balancing Science and Tradition

Some argue that science is taking on an oversized role in modern sports, potentially replacing the traditional values that define the essence of sport. While it’s true that science can offer athletes an edge, it’s undeniable that the legitimate advantages it provides are invaluable. Researchers in the field find academic rewards in their work, continuously striving to enhance the beautiful game.


Rugby World Cup: High Incidence of Hamstring Injuries in the Sport

Rugby World Cup: High Incidence of Hamstring Injuries in the Sport

“Approaching the men’s Rugby World Cup in France, injury risk during the summer warm-up games remains a pressing concern for coaches and players. New research reveals that rugby players have a more significant imbalance between quadriceps and hamstrings muscle groups than non-players, elevating injury risks, even during training.

Hamstring injuries, especially soft tissue ones, have already sidelined numerous players, sparking inquiries into their frequent occurrence. Hamstring strains account for 15% of all rugby union injuries, making them the most common.

In the 2019 Rugby World Cup, hamstring injuries ranked second only to concussions, contributing to almost 50% of missed training and playing days. They also prevailed in rugby training. The hamstring muscles, consisting of three back-of-the-thigh muscles, are vulnerable to overstretching or overloading, potentially leading to painful tears. These injuries commonly occur during activities involving running, jumping, abrupt starts, and stops, with the risk rising with age and previous hamstring injuries.

Fatigue, muscle weakness, and inflexible or short hamstrings further increase the injury risk. Some experts suspect that an imbalance between quadriceps and hamstring muscles plays a role.

To address these concerns, we studied the behavior and structure of these muscles in rugby union players compared to active non-players.

Our findings revealed that rugby players had stiffer hamstring muscles, which aligns with the explosive movements in rugby training and matches. Muscle stiffness is associated with sprinting, jumping, and contact actions. MRI analysis showed larger quadriceps muscles in rugby players relative to body size.

Surprisingly, there was no noticeable difference in the relative size or volume of hamstring muscles between the two groups. This contradicts previous research, suggesting that hamstring muscles are typically larger in strength and power sport athletes. Our research highlights a significant imbalance in the size of quadriceps and hamstring muscles among rugby players.”


Football A Game for Better Health

“Football: A Game for Better Health”

In the United States, football has overtaken baseball as the premier sport for young boys, imparting values such as discipline, teamwork, and dedication, extending well beyond the playing field. Beyond the life lessons, American football offers numerous health and fitness benefits.

  1. Enhanced Work Ethic: Football’s demanding practice schedule of five days a week instills a strong work ethic in players. This commitment to hard work results in improved skills and game performance.
  2. Stress Relief: The adrenaline rush experienced while playing football serves as a stress reliever, promoting emotional stability and reducing the risk of depression and aggressive behavior off the field.
  3. Comprehensive Workout: Football’s dynamic nature, involving kicks, twists, turns, and throws, offers a holistic exercise experience. The stop-start nature of the game mimics interval training, enhancing long-term fitness and fat burning.
  4. Mental Well-being: Football fosters the release of endorphins, stabilizing moods and offering a natural remedy for symptoms of depression and anxiety. The sport also encourages social integration, contributing to overall well-being.
  5. Teamwork: Coaches emphasize selflessness, cooperation, and teamwork, teaching players valuable life skills applicable in school, work, and social interactions.
  6. Cardiovascular Health: Football involves running, jumping, and quick changes of direction, making it an excellent aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
  7. Interval Training: The game’s combination of slow and fast movements, punctuated by sprints, challenges the heart at varying intensities, promoting effective body fat control and increased fitness.
  8. Enjoyable Activity: The excitement of the game makes players oblivious to the fact that they are working out, combating boredom and maintaining exercise consistency.
  9. Cardiovascular Benefits: Consistent activity in football supports cardiovascular health, longevity, and reduced risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
  10. Bone Health: Football players follow high-protein, carbohydrate-rich diets to meet the sport’s demands. Strength training exercises build bone density and mass, lowering the risk of age-related bone and joint conditions.

Football is not just a sport; it’s a holistic lifestyle that contributes to physical, mental, and emotional well-being, making it an ideal choice for young athletes.”


"Neymar's ongoing injuries pose a grave career threat: 16 incidents since 2018, with 640 days spent sidelined."

“Neymar’s ongoing injuries pose a grave career threat: 16 incidents since 2018, with 640 days spent sidelined.”

“It’s a relentless cycle of injuries for Neymar, and just when he starts to regain momentum, another setback occurs,” lamented Casemiro following Neymar’s latest injury episode.

This phrase accurately captures the persistent challenges the Brazilian forward has faced in recent years. Neymar’s star is losing its shine due to an unending series of injuries.

His most recent setback, which threatens to keep him away from the field for an extended period, marks the 16th injury he’s accumulated in the past seven seasons, resulting in a total of 640 days spent sidelined. And this tally doesn’t even include the recovery period he’s currently facing.

Neymar’s struggles began in the 2017-2018 season, his inaugural year with PSG. In February 2018, he endured a foot injury, fracturing the fifth metatarsal of his right foot, leading to surgery and a 100-day absence.

The following year proved even more challenging. In January 2019, he suffered a recurrence of the same fifth metatarsal injury in his right foot, necessitating an 88-day break. He made a return in late April, only to sustain a right ankle fracture in a pre-Copa America friendly match in June, resulting in another 90 days on the sidelines.

During the 2019-2020 season, Neymar had a brief respite, with ‘only’ 45 days of absence due to a couple of injuries, the most significant being a 30-day hamstring injury. He regained his peak form and played a pivotal role in PSG’s journey to the Champions League final.

The subsequent three seasons continued to be marred by injuries, with three in 2020-2021, another three in 2021-2022, and an additional three in 2022-2023. These recurring injuries have made it exceptionally difficult for him to regain his top form and maintain the consistency required to be a game-changer.

In total, nine injuries and 357 days of absence. This season didn’t commence well for Neymar. Just a day after his grand unveiling with Al Hilal, it was revealed that he had arrived with an injury.

Now, a new blow: a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee, adding to his unfortunate collection of physical setbacks. Brazil’s doctor, Rodrigo Lasmar, adopted a cautious approach when assessing Neymar’s knee injury: “It could be a significant sprain, but we’ve conducted all the necessary tests. These next 24 hours will be crucial in assessing how the knee responds, the level of swelling, and the imaging tests that will determine a definitive diagnosis. It’s too early to determine if it’s a ligament injury. We await the results with patience.”

After sustaining the injury, Neymar shared a religious message on his Instagram Stories with his more than 215 million followers: “This was the verse I put after the match… ‘In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.’ Proverbs 16:9. God knows all things. All honor and glory are always yours, my God, regardless of everything. I have faith.”


Soccer and Mental Health How Lifestyle Affects Well-being

“Soccer and Mental Health: How Lifestyle Affects Well-being”

“Profound Impacts of Football on Health and the Ongoing Harvard Study

The consequences extend to pro players and families, raising questions for parents contemplating youth football. Enter Harvard University’s Football Players Health Study, encompassing 3,700+ former players. Researchers focus on player health, tackling issues like CTE, concussions, ACL tears, and more. Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone emphasizes holistic well-being, emphasizing brain health’s interconnectedness with other bodily systems. Factors like exercise, size, and disease risk play into understanding football’s complex effects.

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One study links traumatic brain injuries to Alzheimer’s and CTE, shedding light on tau protein misformation in brain cells post-injury. An antibody intervention shows promise in restoring brain function. Long-term research aims to understand the biological basis of brain injuries, hoping to improve diagnostics and therapeutic targets.

The study’s importance transcends football, benefitting accident victims, veterans, Alzheimer’s patients, and young athletes nationwide. Understanding lifestyle’s health impact is key, benefiting current and future players, and all individuals.”


Cigna, Cricket Health broaden kidney care collaboration in California.

Cigna, Cricket Health broaden kidney care collaboration in California.

Cigna is expanding its collaboration with Cricket Health to provide comprehensive care for late-stage chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients in California, a development particularly significant amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This extended partnership, set to commence in May, utilizes Cricket Health’s AI algorithms to identify CKD patients. Subsequently, a dedicated care team is deployed to minimize hospitalization needs and enhance patient management.

The COVID-19 crisis has accentuated the relevance of Cricket’s care model, according to Arvind Rajan, CEO of Cricket Health. Their personalized, evidence-based approach identifies CKD patients earlier and provides high-touch care, especially important given the heightened risk CKD patients face when contracting COVID-19.

Patients with kidney disease face increased complications if they contract COVID-19, with some early U.S. fatalities involving in-clinic dialysis patients. Eligible Cricket Health patients now have the option to switch to in-home dialysis and virtual solutions, reducing the need for clinic visits, a significant benefit for patients who often require multiple weekly dialysis trips.


Cricket Health introduces advanced kidney care for late-stage CKD and ESRD patients.

Cricket Health introduces advanced kidney care for late-stage CKD and ESRD patients.

Cricket Health has unveiled a novel kidney care initiative tailored to late-stage chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients within Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. This program, currently servicing over 4,500 kidney disease patients in Texas, utilizes a proprietary data analytics model to assist MA plans in early identification and risk stratification of members with or at risk of kidney disease.

Robert Sepucha, CEO of Cricket Health, emphasized the importance of early intervention in value-based kidney care. The program focuses on early identification of kidney disease and provides personalized care plans and targeted interventions to maintain patients’ health, reduce hospitalization, and keep them at home.

This initiative was launched following the regulatory change on January 1, 2021, permitting ESRD patients to enroll in MA plans. Cricket Health offers MA-enrolled members a dedicated, multidisciplinary care team comprising a nurse, pharmacist, social worker, dietitian, and a trained patient peer mentor. These teams provide support through in-person visits, phone consultations, or virtual care platforms to educate patients about their condition and assist in making decisions to manage disease progression, ultimately improving health outcomes and reducing costs.

For patients who progress to kidney failure, Cricket Health offers an ESRD-specific program to increase transplant referrals and the use of home dialysis while reducing unnecessary healthcare utilization. The company’s care teams collaborate with existing medical providers in MA plans, such as primary care physicians and nephrologists.

Cricket Health underscores that ESRD costs the U.S. healthcare system over $200 billion annually, with MA plans managing more than $40 billion of this expenditure. Research indicates that up to 50% of late-stage patients remain undiagnosed, leading to significantly higher costs for managing this patient population. Therefore, improved care management for kidney patients within MA plans is deemed crucial.

This latest program expands Cricket Health’s management to a total of 10,000 commercial and MA patients across the USA and increases the total medical spend managed by the company to over $500 million.


Cricket Health Raises $83.5M in Series B with Strong Clinical Outcomes Backing.

Cricket Health Raises $83.5M in Series B with Strong Clinical Outcomes Backing.

On August 5, 2021, Cricket Health announced the successful closure of an $83.5 million Series B funding round, led by Valtruis, along with participation from existing investors Oak HC/FT and Cigna Ventures. Additionally, K2 HealthVentures and a strategic investment from Blue Shield of California contributed to this funding round. The newfound capital will fuel Cricket Health’s rapid expansion as it meets the growing demand for its proven care model for individuals with kidney disease throughout the United States.

Kidney disease has presented significant challenges to the healthcare system due to its complexity, high treatment costs, and limited early diagnosis and intervention. Cricket Health’s approach, which combines advanced analytics, dedicated care teams, and a digital health platform, has yielded remarkable clinical outcomes. Tracy Bahl, Managing Partner at Valtruis, emphasized the innovative nature of this approach, which focuses on value-based and at-home healthcare models. Valtruis is enthusiastic about supporting Cricket Health’s expansion to positively impact the lives of more Americans suffering from kidney disease.

Cricket Health has a strong track record of enhancing clinical outcomes for individuals with kidney disease, resulting in reduced costs for health plan partners. In both Texas and California, working with Commercial and Medicare Advantage health plans, Cricket Health has demonstrated notable improvements in key clinical metrics for individuals living with kidney disease:

  • Over 50 percent fewer hospital admissions compared to the status quo.
  • 77 percent of those starting dialysis do so in an outpatient setting, compared to the status quo of 40 percent.
  • 45 percent of those needing dialysis initiate it at home, compared to the status quo of 11 percent.
  • 60 percent of those commencing dialysis do so with a permanent access placed, compared to the status quo of 45 percent.

Cigna’s Senior Vice President and Global Lead, Strategy and Business Development, Tom Richards, pointed out the positive impact of their partnership with Cricket Health, including a more than 50 percent reduction in hospitalizations since May 2020.

Blue Shield of California’s interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Susan Fleischman, highlighted how Cricket Health’s virtual platform has empowered patients with chronic kidney disease to receive comprehensive care from the comfort of their homes, leading to improved health outcomes.

Cricket Health’s StageSmart™ predictive analytics model allows them to identify patients with chronic kidney disease with 96 percent accuracy. This enables risk stratification of patient populations for healthcare plans and providers, delivering stage-specific care to those in need. The MyCricket™ comprehensive patient support service, offering access to a multidisciplinary care team, peer support, and educational resources, is available virtually, over the phone, or in person when necessary. If patients progress to end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), Cricket Health’s evidence-based approach increases transplant referrals, encourages home dialysis utilization, and reduces unnecessary hospitalizations.

Cricket Health’s CEO, Robert Sepucha, emphasized that their innovative approach is changing the way kidney disease is identified and managed, resulting in better clinical outcomes and helping more Americans stay healthy and out of the hospital. With support from new partners Welsh Carson and Blue Shield of California, along with existing partners Oak HC/FT, Cigna, and K2 Health Ventures, Cricket Health is set to expand its pioneering kidney care model nationwide.

With the latest funding, Cricket Health has now raised over $120 million in equity and debt financing.

About Cricket Health: Cricket Health is a leading provider of value-based kidney care with a clinically proven approach to managing chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). They empower payers and providers to shift their approach to kidney disease upstream, intervening early and delivering stage-specific care for those who need it most, ultimately reducing costs and improving kidney disease outcomes. Using the StageSmart™ machine learning model and predicted GFR (pGFR™), Cricket Health effectively risk stratifies patients at each stage of kidney disease, with 96 percent accuracy for individuals with stage 3b and beyond. Their comprehensive patient support service, MyCricket™, offers access to educational resources, peer support, and a multidisciplinary care team through virtual, phone, or in-person channels.

About Valtruis: Valtruis, a portfolio company of WCAS, offers a unique platform that invests in and collaborates with disruptive leaders dedicated to transforming healthcare through genuine value-based care. Committed to accelerating meaningful change, Valtruis provides functional expertise, access to capital, and an extensive network to drive partners’ evolution from early-stage development to industry-leading enterprises. Together with its partner companies, Valtruis aims to break through systemic barriers in the healthcare industry, reducing costs, expanding access, improving quality, and enhancing the patient experience.


Cricket Health Secures $24M Series A Funding for Tailored, Affordable Kidney Care

Cricket Health Secures $24M Series A Funding for Tailored, Affordable Kidney Care

On September 5, 2018, San Francisco-based tech-enabled kidney care provider, Cricket Health, announced the successful closure of a $24 million Series A funding round. This round was led by new investor Oak HC/FT and also saw participation from other new investors such as Cigna Corporation, LifeForce Capital, iSeed Ventures, Joe Montana’s Liquid 2 Ventures, Halle Tecco, co-founder of Rock Health, and Sami Inkinen, co-founder of Virta Health. Notably, returning investors included First Round Capital, Box Group, Nexus Ventures, Seven Peaks Ventures, Aberdare Management, and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner.

Cricket Health’s mission is to address the challenges in kidney care in the United States, which often lead to costly, life-altering, in-center dialysis due to misaligned incentives. The company aims to provide cost-effective, holistic care that maintains patients’ health, offers hope for the future, and puts them back in control of their lives. The latest funding will be instrumental in enhancing care for millions of Americans confronting kidney disease.

Cricket Health collaborates with risk-bearing payers and health systems to identify high-risk patients well in advance of kidney failure, focusing on preserving kidney function for as long as possible. Their treatment approach prioritizes slowing the progression of kidney failure, minimizing hospital visits, ensuring seamless transitions, and supporting patients in their chosen ESRD treatment path. This is achieved through a combination of services, including a nephrology practice that offers remote, in-person, and at-home care, a multidisciplinary care team for care coordination and outcomes management, state-of-the-art technology for patient education, and 24/7 peer and clinical support. Cricket Health also provides dialysis care, either at home or in reimagined centers that prioritize patient empowerment.

Nancy Brown, a partner at Oak HC/FT, noted that the kidney care industry is undergoing significant change, with a growing desire to reduce the costs associated with in-center dialysis and provide better care options for patients. Cricket Health’s innovative approach, technology, and leadership are poised to transform this $100 billion industry, improve care quality, and reduce costs.

The Series A funding will enable Cricket Health to expand its tech-enabled programs and clinical presence, with a particular focus on developing care management for ESRD patients to delay the need for dialysis. The company also plans to introduce new home dialysis and in-center programs. This funding comes at a time when Cricket Health is experiencing substantial momentum, with key additions to its team, including Chief Medical Officer Carmen A. Peralta, MD, MAS, and Chief Business Officer Danny Shapiro, a veteran of the kidney care industry.

Cricket Health was established in 2015 by Arvind Rajan, a technology industry veteran and former LinkedIn senior executive; Vince Kim, a former partner at Aberdare Ventures; and James Chaukos, who held a business operations role at LinkedIn. The company’s medical advisors include Glenn Chertow, MD, Chief of the Division of Nephrology and Professor of Medicine at Stanford; Michael Shlipak, MD, MPH, Chief of General Internal Medicine at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco; and Joel Glickman, MD, FACP, Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cricket Health specializes in providing integrated nephrology and dialysis care for individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Their technology-enabled multidisciplinary care aims to deliver the best outcomes for patients while offering value to partners, which includes keeping patients healthy, avoiding hospitalizations, expediting access to transplant options, and promoting the adoption of home dialysis. The company, headquartered in San Francisco, comprises a team and advisors with expertise in healthcare and technology.

Oak HC/FT, founded in 2014, is a venture growth-equity fund that focuses on Healthcare Information & Services (HC) and Financial Services Technology (FT). With $1.1 billion in assets under management, the fund is committed to driving transformation in these industries by providing strategic counsel, board-level participation, business plan execution, and access to an extensive network of industry leaders. Oak HC/FT is headquartered in Greenwich, CT, with additional offices in Boston and San Francisco. Follow Oak HC/FT on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Medium for more information.


InterWell Health, Cricket Health, and Fresenius Health Partners successfully finalize merger.

InterWell Health, Cricket Health, and Fresenius Health Partners successfully finalize merger.

InterWell Health, Cricket Health, and Fresenius Health Partners have successfully completed their three-way merger, as confirmed in a press release. This merger, initially announced in March, marks a significant step toward enhancing value-based nephrology care.

The newly-formed entity will operate under the InterWell brand and is poised to manage an estimated $11 billion in costs by 2025. Key investors in this merger include prominent names such as Fresenius Medical Care, Valtruis, Oak Hc/FT, Cigna Ventures, and Blue Shield of California.

With a commitment to caring for over 270,000 patients dealing with kidney disease, the company plans to leverage its StageSmart machine learning and predictive GFR model to effectively identify and stratify patient risks.

George Hart, MD, Chief Medical Officer of InterWell Health, emphasized their dedication to supporting patients with kidney disease by placing nephrologists at the forefront. He noted that physicians will benefit as investors and members of the board of directors and clinical committees. This collaborative approach aims to provide the necessary resources for superior care, disease management, and improved patient outcomes.

The overarching goal of this merger is to enhance nephrology care across every stage of a patient’s journey with kidney disease. It aspires to improve health outcomes for individuals with kidney disease while reducing costs for public and private payers, health systems, and others who assume responsibility for this vulnerable and complex patient population.