Thermography, GPS and basketball: ankle sprain case study.

Thermography, GPS and basketball: ankle sprain case study.

11/05/2022 By: Víctor Escamilla Home

The combination of thermography with other technologies, such as GPS, is one of the best allies to establish KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) in basketball to improve the processes of both injury recovery and injury prevention.

Nowadays, with the use of new technologies, as GPS or others tools, we have a large amount of data, which by itself does not provide value if the professional is not able to make sense of the information obtained (Figure 1). Therefore, relating different metrics that come from different technologies can help us to understand and establish an action protocol for decision making.

data process in GPS
Figure 1. The data processing diagram. Source:

ThermoHuman in its eagerness to improve the thermography knowledge process and provide value is developing artificial intelligence algorithms for the management of the metrics that are most related to the risk of injury so that the professional can make the best decision (Figure 2).

Thermography and value chain
Figure 2. ThermoHuman value chain; speed in taking images, automatic processing, artificial intelligence for image interpretation.

Case study in professional basketball player monitoring with GPS and thermography

In this case, we bring you the combination of thermography with data extracted from basketball tasks analyzed with WIMU GPS devices (data provided by Marcos Cerveró), who have experience in analyzing the daily training workload in high performance sports.

The thermography analysis shows a state of relative balance in the analysis (-4MD / -3MD / -2MD) before the day of the injury. Thermal asymmetry is within surveillance parameters, with a hyperthermic signal towards the ankle to be injured, indicating that this structure has a greater demand. Furthermore, if we evaluate the data provided by WIMU three days before the competition the average thrust force (recorded in N) of the extremities indicates that the left ankle has had 7% more work than the contralateral ankle.

GPS and thermography
Figure 3. Evolution of the temperature of the left ankle and the difference in the impact force.

During the match, the devices are not yet allowed so we can not have GPS data, but the abrupt increase in temperature, measured with thermography, in the left ankle indicates the presence of a pathology that is confirmed by the clinical examination performed by the medical staff. A grade I sprain of the tibiofibular ligament is confirmed which, due to the competitive demands and the absence of loss of function and pain, will be treated with compression, cold, Indiba post-training, isometric exercises, bandaging and increased rotation in training, but the player does not stop his sporting activity.

GPS and impulse data
Figure 4. Evolution of impact forces in training before and after the injury.

What is observed on subsequent days, with the increase of 16% and 11% in the values of pushing force with the right leg during training tasks, is that the player will vary his displacement mechanics by exerting greater pushing force on the healthy limb, the right, in order to unconsciously protect the damaged structure. 

Therefore, after an injury or a limitation of movement, it is important to assess the compensations that occur in order to evaluate how these biomechanical compensations can affect the other structures and not continue overloading a dysfunctional pattern.

For this purpose, thermography allows us to evaluate the follow-up not only of the injury itself, in this case in the following days a gradual reduction of the temperature accompanied by a reduction of the asymmetry in the impact is observed, but it should also be noted that thermography is likewise useful to control the compensations produced by the functional overload. 

In this case, the analysis of two days after the injury shows us an alarm, thanks to the development of the alarm system, for the ankle itself and for the opposite ischiosural, i.e., as described by Piñonosa et al 2016, the anticipation of the deceleration of the body with the same step length by leaving more impact, predominantly requires an increase in the activity of the ischiosural complex (Colné & Thoumie, 2006).

Thermography report
Figure 5. Two days after injury. Functional overload due to right posterior chain compensation


Thermography is not only useful for the control of the injured tissue but it is also an ally in the detection of biomechanical compensations during the injury recovery process.

Especially in those cases where the competitive demands impose a high pace of training and competitions and players are exposed to continue their sports practice under unfavorable conditions.

If you want to know more about the alarm system, register on this page and access the exclusive workshop on artificial intelligence for the detection of injury risk markers.

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Colné, P., & Thoumie, P. (2006). Muscular compensation and lesion of the anterior cruciate ligament: Contribution of the soleus muscle during recovery from a forward fall. Clinical Biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 21(8), 849-859.

If you have any questions or would like to make a comment, do not hesitate to write to us. We will be happy to read you.

Europa Thermohuman ThermoHuman has had the support of the Funds of the European Union and the Community of Madrid through the Operational Programme on Youth Employment. Likewise, ThermoHuman within the framework of the Export Initiation Program of ICEX NEXT, had the support of ICEX and the co-financing of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

CDTI Thermohuman has received funding from the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), in participation with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), for the R+D activities involved in creating a new tool, based on thermography, for the prediction and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. See project detail.