Portable MRI could perform onsite checks for tennis wrist injuries
Tennis players are susceptible to wrist cartilage injuries, which may not even present any symptoms at first. A van-based MRI system was designed with that fact in mind, as it can spot such injuries right at the tennis court, before they become serious.
The prototype device was created by a team at Japan's University of Tsukuba, led by Prof. Yasuhiko Terada. It's intended to serve as a portable, quicker, more practical and less expensive alternative to sending athletes to hospitals, where their wrists would be imaged by full-body MRI scanners.
It's actually an altered version of an existing mobile MRI machine, which was developed by Terada and colleagues to spot baseball-related elbow injuries. Along with incorporating a better magnetic shielding method which provides higher-quality images, the new wrist-specific version is also now powered by a portable generator – this means that onsite users don't have to hunt down an electrical outlet.
In a test of the technology, the scientists drove it to a tennis school where they imaged the wrists of both male and female students, aged eight to 18 years old. It was found that several of the individuals were unknowingly developing wrist cartilage injuries, even though they weren't experiencing any discomfort or loss of dexterity.
It is hoped that once developed further, the machine could be used to regularly check tennis players right at the courts, catching injuries early enough that they could be treated before becoming overly problematic. Terada plans on also developing versions for use in other sports, which image joints such as the ankle or knee.
The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Magnetic Resonance in Medical Sciences.
Source: University of Tsukuba