By Jordana Bieze Foster
Using ultrasound tissue characterization (UTC) to monitor tendon load in Australian Football League players has led to no games missed due to patellar tendinopathy in four years, according to Sam Rosengarten, a sports physiotherapist at Recover Sports Medicine in Melbourne who has worked most recently with the Carlton Football Club.
Rosengarten discussed his experience with UTC as part of a symposium on patellar tendinopathy at the IOC conference in Monaco. The technology synthesizes 3D ultrasound data into a color-coded image that reflects tissue integrity.
This allows team practitioners to carefully monitor athletes to prevent overloading of tissues, which become apparent on a UTC scan long before symptoms develop. It also helps to avoid the opposite problem of undertraining. The typical AFL team averages one case of patellar tendinopathy per season, which leads to an average of nearly three games missed—something Rosengarten says UTC monitoring can help avoid.
“With vigilant monitoring with UTC we can make good decisions about how much to load and how often. Our ability to intervene at the reactive stage and stop them from progressing to the degenerative stage is an amazing opportunity,” Rosengarten said. “Once they get to the degenerative state there’s almost no chance of getting back to a normal-looking tendon.”