Interesting research is coming out of Purdue University regarding detecting stress fractures. These tiny fractures often occur in the feet and leg bones of soldiers, athletes, dancers and race horses. They may also occur to persons with osteoporosis. Stress fractures are too small to show up on xray until they begin to heal so diagnostics are after-the-fact. These researchers are applying the same basic technique seismologists use to measure earthquakes. Tiny crack formations generate waves similar to those of earthquakes and these microcracks become hairline stress fractures unless detected in time. The trouble is, there is little warning because there isn't horrible pain, so most people keep training, which then leads to fracture. The system being looked at will record "accoustic emission data" or sound waves caused by bone fissures. The researchers are looking at polymer-based sensors that could be incorporated into athletic shoes. It would be able to tell the athlete when to stop exercising to prevent injury. What an amazing diagnostic tool!! I hope they hurry!
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Information from Feb 2007 NATA News.