Technology Applications for the Healthcare Athlete

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To reach our potential of being at our best in all domains of life, it makes sense to leverage all available strategies.  Integrating technologic devices can contribute to development of our mind-body and body-mind skills as well as provide important feedback regarding our current state and our improvement over time.  For this reason, technology is a key component of the sustainable skills of The Healthcare Athlete.

There are many different types of devices available that can be applied to high performance skills and practices.  Broadly speaking, these can be divided into two categories.  There are devices that directly promote recovery and other devices that provide objective data and metrics.

Amongst those devices which directly promote recovery there are two main types.  First are devices which assist with physical recovery.  By promoting bloodflow and circulation, as well as direct effects to reduce muscle pain and enhance muscle recovery, these devices improve our physical recovery.  The usage of these devices is commonplace in physically demanding professions, however there are also physical demands placed upon healthcare providers, such as during extended duration surgical procedures.  Without adequate physical recovery, development of strain related and overuse injuries can occur, resulting in increased physical stress and deteriorating performance.

The second type of recovery devices are those which assist with development of parasympathetic, particularly vagal, recovery.  Through the application of tactile and vibratory sensation, these devices have been proven to improve heart rate variability, improve cognitive performance, and enhance focus.  As parasympathetic tone is essential for all aspects of recovery and performance, these devices can provide significant contribution to our pursuit of high performance.

The other main category of technologic devices are those which provide objective data regarding our physiological state.  As with recovery devices, these measurement devices can be subdivided into two types: those which are worn continuously and provide daily measurements and those which provide a more detailed assessment conducted on a semi-regular basis.

There are several wearable devices which provide data regarding sleep, heart rate variability, recovery, activity, and other metrics.  Some of these are wrist based and other ring devices.  The benefit of these measurements is a daily assessment that can be used to adjust activities on a day to day basis to better match recovery as well as develop a more detailed understanding of the impact of various activities on recovery.

The other category of measurement devices provides a more detailed dataset which is determined on a less frequent basis, such as every three to four months.  The more detailed information provides a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between stress, recovery, and exercise.  Due to the nature of the measurement, these are not wearable on a continuous basis but provide more complete information over the course of the measurement timeframe.

The combination of each of these categories of devices can provide a complete technologically based compliment to the mind-body and body-mind skills of sustainable high performance.   Use of the two categories of recovery devices provides further contribution to physical and parasympathetic mediated recovery.  Use of the wearable, daily measurement devices and the semi-regular more detailed measurement devices provides the most complete understanding of the impact of our activities and recovery skills.

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