Elbow injuries suf­fered by pitchers in Major League Base­ball occur fre­quently and result in tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in losses each season, rep­re­senting the money that must be paid in salaries to pitchers who cannot per­form due to injury.

To address this issue, three North­eastern Uni­ver­sity engi­neering stu­dents have devel­oped a data-​​logging uni­form shirt for pitchers that can help pre­vent elbow injuries while pro­viding an elec­tronic analysis of pitching mechanics.

The shirt was devel­oped by Marcus Moche, Alexandra Morgan and David Schmidt as a Cap­stone Design Project—a senior-​​level team project that requires stu­dents to solve a “real-​​world” engi­neering problem or develop a viable product.

No single device for mea­suring the quality of pitching mechanics cur­rently exists, so we have pro­posed a shirt that is light­weight and can be worn during bullpen ses­sions or exhi­bi­tion games,” said Moche. “The shirt can be used to show when a player becomes fatigued and his mechanics worsen, through a dis­play of real-​​time infor­ma­tion on a mon­itor in the dugout.”

Pitchers become more sus­cep­tible to injury when they lose con­sis­tency in their mechanics—the physics of how they throw the base­ball, pitch after pitch.

A loss of mechanics can increase the like­li­hood of a pitcher tearing the ulnar col­lat­eral lig­a­ment (UCL), the lig­a­ment that pre­vents lat­eral stress on the elbow. According to the stu­dents’ research, UCL injuries result in upwards of $54 mil­lion in salary losses each season.

Cur­rent methods of ana­lyzing mechanics are clumsy and expen­sive, requiring pitchers to per­form in elab­o­rate lab­o­ra­tory set­tings. The data-​​logging shirt, how­ever, is light­weight, does not inter­fere with the pitching motion and is even machine washable.

What the design team accom­plished in designing this shirt is what the cap­stone project is all about,” said Mohammad Taslim, design team advisor and pro­fessor of mechan­ical and indus­trial engi­neering in the Col­lege of Engineering.

These stu­dents iden­ti­fied a real problem with the way pitching mechanics are cur­rently ana­lyzed and invented a viable product that has great poten­tial to make it to the market.”