Dexalytics Improving Sports Performance

The Potential of Dexalytics to Improve Sports Performance

My colleagues and I have been working on implementing the body analysis software Dexalytics for the last five years. This software solution utilizes body composition data obtained from dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans and compares it to sport- and position-specific standards, and provides actionable information that can help collegiate and professional trainers, coaches and medical staff train better athletes.

The groundwork for the development of Dexalytics started when I was contacted by a manufacturer of a DXA (dual X-ray absorptiometry) device saying that they had a client interested in maximizing the potential of their DXA data. This client turned out to be an NFL team. The problem the NFL teams was encountering was the report produced by the DXA device was comprised of numerous pages filled with data. The team felt there were data they weren’t fully understanding. Since the manufacturer came from a clinical background, it was at a loss to bridge the gap to sports performance. That’s where the College of Education and Human Development’s School and Kinesiology’s Laboratory of Integrative Human Physiology, in partnership with CEHD’s Educational Technology Innovations (ETI), stepped in.

We developed the Dexalytics software to allow trainers, coaches and sports medicine professionals to better use the DXA data to help them better examine the team and individual position players. This generates a wealth of information to choose from:  upper and lower body muscle mass, a unique performance score and other related values.

Recently, we entered into a partnership with Hologic, Inc., to be able to bring this powerful cloud-based software technology to athletic trainers across North America.

Using Dexalytics to Uncover Potential Sports Performance

One of the most important times of year for a football team is the NFL draft. By using Dexalytics  to look at players in terms of body composition, a team can start getting a more specific idea about players they’d like to select for their roster. This software offers the opportunity to compare professional current players with potential draftees and determine if there’s a place for them on the active roster or practice squad. While there’s a wide range of ways to predict potential sports performance from individuals, Dexalytics offers a way to break down complex analysis into more manageable, usable data points.

Currently, potential NFL players are assessed by attributing a score based on the position they play. Whether it’s a running back, defensive back, or a lineman, each player is put into categories based on position-specific variables that have proven to be important. These variables often include arm length, hand size, body mass index (BMI), etc. Dexalytics takes analysis a step further; with this software, we can go inside the person and determine how much muscle is yet needed for the position, their current body fat, and where it’s all distributed throughout the body. It offers a far more in-depth look at a player’s body composition.

Optimizing Training Regimens Off the Field

Dexalytics  isn’t just a boost to sports performance on the field.  It helps trainers and dieticians maximize how a player prepares her/his body. The software identifies potential red flags and asymmetries in a player’s body composition, which allows a strength coach to design a program specifically tailored to a player. Comparing current scans to past scans allows everyone to see how the programs designed impacted a player’s body composition, and better decisions can then be made about current and future strength/nutritional programs.

Coaches and performance staff determine what’s successful and what’s not and can adjust their programs accordingly. It allows them to better understand how to improve players in an easier, more quantifiable way.

Taking Sports Science Forward

In working closely with clients, we’ve seen a growing demand in customized training. It doesn’t matter whether it’s high school, college, or professional athletics. We’re constantly being driven by one question: How can we best personalize training while also monitoring whether the customization works? Dexalytics  is built on the understanding that the one-size-fits-all approach to training is a thing of the past. Coaches, trainers, and dieticians are beginning to understand the importance of fine-tuned, individualized training programs to help athletes reach an elite level of sports performance.

Don Dengel

About the Author

Don Dengel, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor
  • Exercise Physiology
  • College of Education and Human Development
  • University of Minnesota

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