Advanced tech keeps student-athletes healthy and ready for competition
Everybody loves the thrill of game day: the breathtaking plays, the resounding echo of the final buzzer and the electric energy of the crowd. As the excitement subsides, however, a different challenge takes center stage: helping student-athletes recover.
At Washington, student-athletes’ holistic well-being is top priority, so they can excel in the classroom and in competition. Your generous contributions to The Competitive Edge Fund have enabled UW Athletics to adopt cutting-edge technologies to support student-athlete performance and recovery. Our close partnership with UW Medicine’s sport medicine team ensures our student-athletes have access to the best care around.
Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) rehabilitation
The sports medicine team has embraced the Delfi Personal Tourniquet System from Owens Recovery Science and Suji brand for BFR, the latter of which features app-based controls and Bluetooth connectivity for enhanced mobility and personalized recovery.
Initially designed for treating combat injuries and strength training, BFR has gained traction in athlete recovery thanks to modern research. This therapy revives muscles and tendons using a tourniquet-like device to imitate the advantages of intense workouts without straining the joints commonly associated with traditional weightlifting.
“Given the rigorous physical demands placed on college athletes, BFR has been a game changer for us,” says Michael Dillon, Associate Athletic Director for Health and Wellness. “Thanks to donor support, we’re able to use the same technologies Olympic athletes use. The impact on our student-athletes has been truly remarkable. With improved strength metrics and faster recovery time, our student-athletes can return to play stronger, with less downtime.”
UW Football linebacker Drew Fowler echoes that positive sentiment, sharing, “BFR has helped me stay strong and healthy. I’ve been able to recover faster than I have in the past.”
UW Athletics has also embraced the versatile Firefly, a disposable, battery-powered neuromuscular device that is strapped near an athlete’s knee. By sending small electrical pulses to stimulate the nerve in the leg, the Firefly creates a gentle foot “flutter” that significantly increases blood flow by up to 400%.
Dillon highlights the benefits Firefly offers to student-athletes, saying, “This device has proven effective for post-injury recovery, reducing swelling, relieving muscle soreness and enhancing overall muscle performance.”
Husky gymnast Thu Nguyen uses Firefly throughout the season to ensure she recovers between meets. “We also use the devices on the plane during away trips. They allow me to not feel the negative impacts of travel and help me feel more prepared going into away meets.”
With its portability, the Firefly device can serve various purposes including warm-ups and muscle strengthening. Additionally, it offers personalized settings and individual controls which the user can adjust for varying degrees of intensity.
Nguyen continues, “UW’s sports medicine staff keep me healthy, so I can continue to compete at the highest level.”
The future of sport recovery
As the world of athlete recovery and performance advances, UW Athletics is able to adopt the newest technologies thanks to support from donors like you.
“Our team is always thinking of ways to keep our athletes healthy holistically and be the best on game day since so much is demanded of them each day,” explains Dillon. “We truly couldn’t do what we do without your generosity. Thank you!”