Wizards use brain health technology to gauge injury, improve performance

WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards will soon use neurotechnology to try to understand how fatigue associated with a long basketball season affects players’ brain performance and health.

The team said Tuesday that it will become the third NBA club — joining the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors — to use the SyncThink platform, which uses eye-tracking metrics in a virtual reality environment called Eye-Sync to quickly and objectively measure a player’s brain health.

SyncThink is capable of watching the way a player’s eyes follow an object while wearing a VR headset to determine within a minute whether the athlete has suffered a concussion.

To pay active attention, the brain has to constantly predict incoming information, including the split-second delay between receiving information and acting.

During the assessment, a player watches a target in circular motion. The tests measure the user’s eye motion and characterizes how well it synchronizes with the target across two metrics: spatial and timing variability.

The person administering the test utilizes a tablet computer to assess any ocular-motor impairment.

The Wizards said they will use the technology in evaluating current and future players.

Steve Smith, senior director of health, wellness and performance for the Wizards, said the technology will provide “objective measures into how we assess high performance and monitor fatigue as part of our comprehensive player management system.”

With an 82-game regular season, not including preseason and playoff games, the Wizards and the tech team want to understand the accumulation of travel, optimization of sleep schedules and determine if adjustments to training schedules can decrease injuries and improve on-court performance.

The team’s performance and medical staff will screen and monitor current players, as well as the roster of the Wizards’ G League affiliate Capital City Go-Go, and for future assessments of draft-eligible prospects.

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