EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 5, 2010

College student's high-tech training shirt aims to prevent pitching injuries

North Andover graduate develops high-tech training gear as college project

NORTH ANDOVER — David Schmidt is the first to admit that he's not much of a baseball fan.

In fact, biomechanics has been the North Andover native's pastime of choice ever since he was accepted to graduate school at Northeastern University.

But Schmidt, 23, and two of his classmates now have the big leagues on notice, thanks to a high-tech training shirt they've developed for pitchers as part of an undergraduate senior project.

By using the shirt to monitor body mechanics, Schmidt and his classmates believe pitchers can work to avoid often-serious injuries to their throwing arms caused by fatigue and bad habits.

The shirt is just like any other compression shirt commonly worn by athletes, only imbedded into the fabric are sensors and conductive thread.

The thread, which powers the sensors located on the back, forearm and biceps, links up to a software program that's used to record the acceleration and movement of the pitching arm.

By analyzing the data, Schmidt said coaches can closely monitor a pitcher's delivery and work to ensure proper mechanics, and in turn avoid injuries like ligament tears.

Schmidt is a senior at Northeastern and graduated from North Andover High School in 2005.

Though he and Northeastern classmates Marcus Moche and Alexandra Morgan have thus far only developed an early prototype of the training shirt, Schmidt said they've already been contacted by three Major League Baseball teams interested in their idea.

Schmidt said professional pitchers rely on similar technology to track their mechanics, but the reflective markers and high-speed cameras now in use keep them stuck in the laboratory.

"You can't be in a game setting," said Schmidt. "We're trying to capture the same movements and same data, but we want something that can be wearable on the field."

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