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A sleeve to prevent Tommy John surgery?

Jul 3, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT

tommy john surgery

Seems far-fetched, but jeez, you got any better ideas? Will Carroll of Bleacher Report was given an exclusive first look at something that could be revolutionary:

[Joe] Nolan and his company, Motus, a well-known provider of biomechanical analysis from Florida, has created what they very simply call the Motus Pitcher Sleeve. It could be the Holy Grail of pitching . . . The Sleeve, as I will refer to it, looks like a normal compression sleeve. It visually looks no different than the normal Nike or Evoshield sleeves worn by pitchers and other athletes. The only difference is a small sensor near the elbow that contains both accelerometers and gyroscopes similar to those found in modern smartphones and game controllers.

The idea is that it monitors the stress on the UCL giving coaches and trainers invaluable feedback on what’s going down with a pitcher’s elbow.

Carroll has video and background on it all, noting that at least two teams are messing with the technology right now.

Interesting stuff. The future is cool.

  1. chill1184 - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    Why the hell not right? Considering that fully functional cybernetic arms are still quite the pipe dream

    • tuberippin - Jul 3, 2014 at 2:30 PM

      When that day comes, I will finally get to be the cyborg LOOGY reliever I always dreamt of becoming.

  2. philliesblow - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    My son had a slight UCL tear last fall, fortunately he healed with a few months of PT instead of therapy. I asked his doctor if wearing a sleeve would provide any protection from re-injury and he said no.

    While the sensors in this sleeve could monitor stress, every elbow is different and responds to the stress uniquely. Unless this sleeve had some type of MRI device that could read the ligament continuously, I don’t see how this could detect a tear. Interesting first step, but unless it was hinged like a knee brace to provide lateral support, I couldn’t see it taking stress off the ligament. but a hinged brace would probably be too restrictive to wear while throwing.

    • dan1111 - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      Capturing more detailed information on the motion of the arm might ultimately lead to a breakthrough, if it helps identify specific motions that are associated with needing Tommy John surgery. To me, it’s not so much about helping a single player as it is about gathering better data to find patterns.

      I think it is a good idea for that reason, but it is likely that similar information could be captured through smart computer analysis of video. That would be a far better approach, because it would allow analysis of numerous current and former pitchers, gathering years of data for hundreds or thousands of players immediately.

      • esracerx46 - Jul 3, 2014 at 2:04 PM

        Its a unique approach. However, in order to gather information about movements that put added stress on the ligament. You have to put added stress on the ligament. Meaning pitchers have to get hurt in order to get any gain. Pitchers will get hurt regardless. Just found it funny that guys need to get hurt in order to make this thing of any value down the road.

      • Walk - Jul 4, 2014 at 7:28 AM

        Might also give us an idea if one pitchers form might cause less stress than others. Remember all the talk of the dread inverted w? We might finally find out if that held any water or was as foolish as it sounded.

    • philliesblow - Jul 3, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      oops…………PT instead of surgery


    • clydeserra - Jul 3, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      healed? do they really do that? Serious question. My understanding was its a ligament. its frayed, torn or healthy.

    • jrob23 - Jul 3, 2014 at 3:10 PM

      I don’t believe the sleeve’s purpose is to detect a tear. I think the point is to monitor the stress in order to prevent a tear in the first place. Of course, with throwing over hand being so unnatural, the stress this sleeve shows will sound off alarm bells constantly and it will take a lot of trial and error to pinpoint and differentiate between the normal stress/stretching your ligaments endure with pitching and that split second moment that that stress becomes too much. Personally I think it won’t work…nor do I think it should be allowed. The whole point of these players making it the show and being stars is that they are special. Like elbow pads that give sluggers the sense of peace to stand close to the plate…this sleeve, if it worked..would give pitchers an added advantage to throw harder, longer, and more effective. This is science going to far.

  3. blabidibla - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    Surprised it took this long.

  4. theebbandflow - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Whoa. Like telemetry on a racing car. Pretty cool.

  5. renaado - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    Definitely worth tryin.

  6. SocraticGadfly - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    On my blog, I have a tag/label called “salvific technologism.” The app-based world of smartphones and similar things are all based on this idea, that technology will always be the cavalry rushing over the hill to save us, whether something minor like this, or something humongous like manipulating the planet to prevent global warming.

    Uhh, wrong!

    Technology doesn’t always “save” us.

    • pixteca - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      What’s your point?

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:51 PM

        My point is that too many people are ready to be suckers for cheap technology as a miracle cure. Now, unlike a PowerBand, this reports some information. Given that we still have no precise idea of what leads to Tommy John problems, we don’t know exactly how to interpret all that information, for starters. Second, if we do know what to do with that info, there’s surely cheaper ways to get it.

    • thatsnuckinfuts - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:18 PM

      Ya things were much better when people lived to the ripe ol’ age of 30.
      Penicillin is Pitcher’s Wins in the world of technology

      • unclemosesgreen - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        Yup – polio builds character. Lol

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:52 PM

        “Science” isn’t the same thing as “technology.” Scientists and engineers generally know that; the average American, however, normally confuses the two.

      • thatsnuckinfuts - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:36 PM

        Need technology for microscopes and a myriad of other things needed for the pursuit of science. But thanks

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 3, 2014 at 10:04 PM

        True that you need technology to help with the research. But, the creation of theories and hypotheses before you know what to research and why is technology-free.

        And, technology that looks all spiffy without any promise, or close to it, of actual medical/scientific result is science-free.

        As for that “without any promise, or close to it”? Per a commenter below, this was on Bleacher Report. Nuff said.

        Or, nuff said for people who aren’t blinded by spiffy, content-free technology.

    • Eutaw's Finest - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      I feel like this should be followed with “Back when I was your age…” Then something about walking uphill both ways.

      • dluxxx - Jul 3, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        Don’t forget about eating rocks because that’s all they had. And they were GREATFUL!!!

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:52 PM

        Tosh. See my two responses above.

  7. asimonetti88 - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    Waiting for someone to declare this to be “performance enhancing” and talk about how back in the day guys like Sandy Koufax pitched naturally, old school, with no sleeves and never tore his UCL… oh what’s that?

    • daveitsgood - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      He was a bum! Out of the league and never threw another pitch past the age of 30! /sarcasm

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:54 PM

        Out of the league at 30 huh? Must have been because he had to stop using steroids!

  8. number42is1 - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Sleeve of Wizard?

    • thebadguyswon - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      Well played.

    • dluxxx - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      Bracer of Ulnar Power.

  9. psunick - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    To prevent the surgery…or, to prevent the injury?

  10. unclemosesgreen - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    This is a cool gadget. But where’s the sleeve that makes high school and college coaches give a crap about the well-being of their players? That makes little league coaches stop letting their pitchers throw curveballs and sliders?

    • dluxxx - Jul 3, 2014 at 1:03 PM

      There isn’t a sleeve for that, it’s actually a collar that works in conjunction with the sleeve on the pitcher. After each pitch it gets a little tighter. If the coach gets choked out, it’s time for a pitching change…

      The alternate gives the coach a ever increasing electric shock (much like those dog shock collars, only I don’t disagree with using them on humans like I do dogs). If the coach can’t stand the shock, then he makes a pitching change.

      Wow, I think I found my next million dollar idea and billion dollar lawsuit…

  11. jimmyt - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    You sure reference the website a lot. Isn’t Bleacher Report pretty much The Onion of sports news?

    • CJ - Jul 3, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      Feeling mighty generous today to give BR even that much credit…

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:54 PM

      Actually, it’s more the BuzzFeed.

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