Elbow injuries suffered by pitchers in Major League Baseball occur frequently and result in tens of millions of dollars lost in salaries to pitchers who cannot perform due to injury.
To address this issue, three Northeastern University engineering students have developed a data-logging shirt for pitchers that can help prevent elbow injuries while providing an electronic analysis of pitching.
The shirt was developed by Marcus Moche, Alexandra Morgan and David Schmidt as a Capstone Design Project – a senior-level team project that requires students to solve a real-world engineering problem or develop a viable product.
’No single device for measuring the quality of pitching currently exists, so we have proposed a shirt that is lightweight and can be worn during bullpen sessions or exhibition games,’ said Moche. ’The shirt can be used to show when a player becomes fatigued and his mechanics worsen, through a display of real-time information on a monitor in the dugout.’
Pitchers become more susceptible to injury when they lose consistency in how they throw the baseball, pitch after pitch.
Such a loss can increase the likelihood of a pitcher tearing the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), the ligament that prevents lateral stress on the elbow. According to the students’ research, UCL injuries result in upwards of $54m (£36m) in salary losses each season.
Current methods of analysing the mechanics of pitching are clumsy and expensive, requiring pitchers to perform in elaborate laboratory settings. The data-logging shirt, however, is lightweight, does not interfere with the pitching motion and is even machine washable.
’These students identified a real problem with the way pitching mechanics are currently analysed and invented a viable product that has great potential to make it to the market,’ said Mohammad Taslim, design team advisor and professor of mechanical and industrial engineering in Northeastern University’s College of Engineering.