NBA, NBPA, and NGBPU Team Up with GE HealthCare and MedStar Health for Joint Health Research Project

The National Basketball Association (NBA), along with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the Next Gen Basketball Players Union (NBGPU), have partnered with GE HealthCare and MedStar Health to announce the successful completion of the data collection phase of a groundbreaking longitudinal pilot study focused on NBA G League players. This collaborative research endeavor aimed to gather data to advance player health and wellness strategies while mitigating the risk of injuries.

Spanning the entirety of the 2023-24 season, the study represents the most extensive evaluation of training and game load’s impact on athletic performance throughout a professional basketball season. Specifically, it monitored the musculoskeletal and joint health of NBA G League players from four teams. The forthcoming findings from this study seek to deepen our understanding of optimal practices for playing, training, and recovery, with a particular emphasis on the knee joint, notably the patellar tendon.

The study employed a multifaceted approach, incorporating daily use of wearable technologies to track game and training loads consistently, alongside serial biomechanical, kinematic, and force-producing assessments. Advanced imaging technologies, such as ultrasound shear wave elastography and MRI equipped with deep learning reconstruction, were utilized. Notably, the study marks the debut of ultrasound shear wave elastography in elite professional basketball research, offering a quantitative analysis of functional changes in the patellar tendon and potential early indicators of tendinopathy.

Key stakeholders involved in the project expressed their enthusiasm and highlighted its significance. Erin Angel, VP of Research & Scientific Affairs at GE HealthCare, emphasized the potential for innovations in analyzing and addressing musculoskeletal and joint health concerns among athletes. Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, Medical Director at MedStar Sports Medicine and Study Co-Principal Investigator, underscored the study’s aim to enhance player health and wellness, thus prolonging careers and elevating performance standards.

The study methodology employed cutting-edge technology, including GE HealthCare’s SIGNA™ Premier 3.0T wide-bore MRI scanner and LOGIQTM E10s Ultrasound, alongside Springbok Analytics’ AI-based 3D muscle analysis. These tools enabled comprehensive assessments of structural and compositional changes in the knee joint and provided insights into players’ muscle health.

The initiative reflects MedStar Health’s commitment to advancing orthopedic and sports medicine-related research. This collaboration adds to their extensive portfolio of projects, which encompasses various professional leagues and federations and explores topics ranging from injury prevention to innovative surgical techniques.

In summary, the collaborative efforts between the NBA, NBPA, NBGPU, GE HealthCare, and MedStar Health signify a significant step forward in understanding and enhancing the musculoskeletal and joint health of professional basketball players, with potential implications for athletes across all levels and sports disciplines.

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