Tennis players are prone to wrist cartilage injuries that may not even show any symptoms at first. A minibus-based MRI system has been designed with this in mind, as it can detect such injuries right on the tennis court before they become serious.

The prototype of the device was created by a team from the Japanese University of Tsukuba, led by Prof. Yasuhiko Terada. It is designed to serve as a portable, faster, more practical and cheaper alternative to sending athletes to hospitals, where their wrists will be imaged by MRI scanners for the whole body.

This is actually a modified version of an existing mobile MRI machine that was developed by Terada and colleagues to detect baseball-related elbow injuries. Along with the inclusion of a better magnetic shielding method that provides higher quality images, the new wrist-specific version is now powered by a portable generator – meaning on-site consumers don’t have to look for an electrical outlet.

A tennis student receives his wrist scanned by a mobile MRI system

University of Tsukuba

In a test of the technology, the scientists took her to a tennis school, where they depicted the wrists of both students and students aged 8 to 18. Several of the individuals were found to unknowingly develop cartilage injuries to the wrist, although they did not experience any discomfort or loss of dexterity.

Hopefully, once further developed, the machine can be used to regularly check tennis players right on the courts, catching injuries early enough to be treated before they become too problematic. Terada also plans to develop versions for use in other sports that depict joints such as the ankle or knee.

The study is described in an article recently published in the journal Magnetic resonance imaging in medical sciences.

Source: University of Tsukuba

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