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Application—Infrared Thermal Imaging Is Used To Evaluate The Development Process of Sports

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Infrared Thermal Imaging Is Used To Evaluate The Development Process of Sports

   The origin of infrared thermography comes in 1800 when William Herschel discovered thermal radiation, the invisible light later called infrared, but only in the mid-sixties infrared thermography became a technique of temperature cartography. He proved that this radiation, called infrared, followed the same law as visible light. Later, this phenomenon was connected with the laws of Planck and Stefan. The first detectors for this type of radiation, based on the principle of the thermocouple and thermopile called, were developed around 1830. In 1970, the first cameras appeared for commercial. The first models were made up of a technology-based pyroelectric tube with an optical IR instead of the classical elements. Today, these concepts have been improved with new technologies in electronics and computing. Infrared acquisition systems can arrive at very high frame rates. The major argument is whether infrared thermography can determine thermal variations to enable sufficient quantitative analyses. The creation of computerized systems using complex statistical data analysis, which ensure high quality results, and the enhancement of thermal sensitivity have increased the development of technology of infrared thermography.

   For years, infrared thermography has become a powerful investigation tool to inspect in many applications, from mechanical, electrical, military, to building and medical applications. Due to its non-intrusive feature, infrared thermography (IRT) can be defined as the science of analysis of data from non contact thermal imaging devices. Thermal imaging cameras detect radiation in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum and produce images of that radiation, called thermograms. This method provides real-time, instantaneous visual images with measurements of surface temperatures over a greater distance.

   Few studies using infrared thermography have been devoted to sports performance diagnostic and to sports pathology diagnostic. It is well known that sports activity induces a complex thermoregulation process where part of heat is given off by the skin of athletes. As not all the heat produced can be entirely given off, there follows a muscular heating resulting in an increase in the cutaneous temperature. In particular, the IRT method will enable, in the long term, to quantify the heat loss according to the swimming style, and to consider the muscular and energy outputs during the stroke.


Figure 1. Infrared thermography of right and left knees before and after race for a participant with right knee.

   The first medical application of infrared thermography for skin temperature measurement was in 1960. In 1980, the early detection of diseases was quickly developed. In the field of pathology diagnostic, applied to sports activity, the application of infrared thermography (IRT) has a long history, mainly musculoskeletal trauma, pathologic processes such as pain in the lumbosacral region, intervertebral disc prolapse, spinal cord lesion, traumatic lesions, fractures, cardiovascular… ALBERT et al. (1964) were the first to assess pain by infrared thermography. This technique is a diagnostic method providing information on the normal and abnormal sensory and nervous systems, trauma, or inflammation locally and globally. Infrared thermography shows physiological changes rather than anatomical changes and could be a new diagnostic tool to detect the pathology of the knee.

   However, interest in IRT is up today because of improved devices and methods of calculation. The special characteristic of IRT studies is that we can get additional information about the skin's thermal aspect and about the complex thermoregulatory process. IRT gives a possibility to evaluate the effect of the sporting activity and to detect possible trauma or dysfunctions, which cannot be shown by present conventional methods. It can measure skin temperature over inflamed joints. This developing technology is used to detect thermal abnormalities characterized by a temperature increase or decrease found at the skin surface. The technique involves the detection of infrared radiation that can be directly correlated with the temperature distribution of a body region.


Ahlem Arfaoui, Guillaume Polidori, Redha Taiar and Catalin Popa (2012). Infrared Thermography in Sports Activity, Infrared Thermography, Dr. Raghu V Prakash (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0242-7.


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