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New technology could revolutionise treatment of tendon injuries

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New intelligent technology developed by scientists in Australia and New Zealand could help personalise the treatment and rehabilitation of muscle and tendon injuries.

The biomedically engineered system developed at Griffith University and the University of Auckland works in real time to provide feedback on the stresses and strains that affect a specific muscle or tendon, either following injury or to help prevent injury.

Called iTraining, the system could be available in physiotherapy practices and public gyms in as little as four years.

Professor David Lloyd, from Griffith´s Menzies Health Institute Queensland, is working with colleagues to launch a study focusing on the Achilles tendon.

“Currently the mechanical environment of the Achilles tendon is poorly understood because of difficulties associated with directly measuring the stresses and strains experienced throughout the tendon in daily activities,” Professor Lloyd explained. “If these issues can be overcome, it will be possible to identify the loading conditions required to facilitate favourable structural and mechanical adaption of healthy, as well as injured or diseased Achilles tendons.”

The professor continued: “The technology to achieve this goal is now within reach and has the potential to radically transform the way athletic training and rehabilitation programmes for the Achilles tendon are designed and monitored.

“The approach will allow the trainer to identify an individual´s optimal loading conditions for positive structural and mechanical adaption of their Achilles tendon, by using methods that integrate the necessary technologies to measure stress-strain of the tendon in real time.”

The new system is also thought to have broad application to other tendons and musculoskeletal tissues within the body.

“iTraining has the potential to radically transform the practice of exercise prescription across the full spectrum from elite performance to rehabilitation of acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions,” Professor Lloyd said.