Atletes on the track

A pill to protect athletes from overheating

A School of Sport and Service Management professor has developed a new temperature monitory system that uses a small core temperature-monitoring “pill” to help protect athletes from heat exhaustion.

The temperature monitoring eco-system being developed by Professor Yannis Pitsiladis, the University’s Professor of Sport and Exercise Science, uses sensors inside a tiny capsule which relay information via Smartwatches on how an athlete’s body is coping with high temperatures during a race.

Medical staff monitoring the information would be alerted if a competitor’s readings were indicating signs of heat stress or hyperthermia and the athlete could be withdrawn. This technology can also help provide more rapid, accurate and dignified temperature assessment at the road/track side in medical emergencies.

Profesor Yannis Pitsiladis in the labs

Profesor Yannis Pitsiladis

A temperature-monitoring pill, which passes through the body after one to two days, will be offered to athletes competing in the World Athletics Championship in the Qatar capital of Doha next month (September) when temperatures can reach up to 40C.

Professor Pitsiladis led the research into the pill and eco system at the University’s campus in Eastbourne, with a view to addressing concerns about the effects of heat on athletes at the Tokyo Olympics next July and August when temperatures can climb to the mid 30Cs. The start of the marathon has been rescheduled to 6am to avoid the worst of the heat.

Professor Pitsiladis said the challenge is to collect the core temperature data in real time in a way that does not impede the athlete in anyway and therefore increases take up by athletes: “Our smart technology achieves this and will represent an excellent opportunity for Olympic legacy for the emergency services and the military.

“The capsule weighs less that 2g and is no bigger than a regular medical pill but it contains no drugs. It is perfectly safe and needs to be taken a few hours before their event.

“Our unique monitoring system allows us to assess in real time the body’s temperature response – and other parameters such as biomechanical and physiological responses of an athlete.

“This is an exciting development and the result of a great deal of hard work involving colleagues at the School of Sport and Service Management at our Eastbourne campus.

“More importantly, this will help protect athletes from the dangers and sometimes the fatal consequences of overheating.”

For more on Professor Pitsiladis go to: https://bit.ly/31U7au1

A diagram showing the temperature monitoring eco-system