US Olympians preparing for the Beijing Games will take part in research programs studying whether or not health monitoring and intervention will help prevent injuries and enhance performance.
Studies will use an ultrasound system developed by Olympic global sponsor General Electric, which expects similar studies in other nations, and continue research that began with US athletes at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino.
A cardiac clinical research study will examine rowing and weightlifting teams while the musculoskeletal health of weightlifters, wrestlers, boxers and women's football players will be monitored in the other program.
"Every day an Olympic athlete spends in rehab is a day lost in training, making earlier injury diagnosis and real-time recovery monitoring crucial for elite performance," US Olympic Committee performance services medical director Michael Reed said.
"It's increasingly important that as a national Olympic committee, we have the most innovative tools to help predict, diagnose, treat and monitor sports injuries earlier to ensure a quick return to play."
The cardiac study led by Boston physician Malissa Wood examines hearts before and after competition, with examination of US short track speedskaters at Torino showing larger cavities and better heart function than typical people of the same age and sex.
"Our work will hopefully grant the sports medicine community with greater insight to the cardiac fitness levels of their athletes, and provide healthcare providers with insight to new, more effective ways of assessing and treating heart disease for the non-athlete," Wood said.
Other researchers will study knee, hip, shoulder and ankle areas, following a study with the US women's hockey team to see if changes in ligaments, muscle and cartilage seen before the Olympics will impact performance at the Games.
New scanning equipment also could be used for a quick injury diagnosis during the Olympics to determine injury severity.