Science of baseball: Camera uses polarized light to measure changes in ligament often injured in pitchers

Tommy John surgery, or reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the elbow, has been dubbed an epidemic among Major League Baseball pitchers. A mechanical engineer at Washington University in St. Louis plans to develop a bioinspired imaging technique to study how damage accumulates in the UCL during loading, or the stress of activating the ligament. The polarized light-based imaging technique aims to improve the microstructural and mechanical evaluation of soft tissues, particularly as mechanically induced damage or biologically induced degeneration accumulates in ligaments or tendons. This could provide insight into what is progressively happening to these soft tissues when pitchers throw fastballs dozens of times during a game.

Washington University in St. Louis

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