Team Derave’s Muscle Talent Scan presented and applied in elite sports settings worldwide

As known well in sports science circles, a critical factor to determine whether a person has talent for short sprint-type exercise or rather longer duration endurance-type  exercise,  is  the  muscle  fiber  type  composition.  Human  skeletal  muscles  are  composed  of  a mixture of fast (white) and slow (red) fibers. Some people have predominantly fast fibers, and are born sprinters, and  others  have  relatively  more  slow  fibers,  and  are  destined  to  become  endurance  athletes.  This  fiber  type distribution is largely genetically determined and therefore it is an important factor in identifying athletic talent in various  sports. 

The  reason  why  this  important  aspect  was  almost  never  measured  (until  now)  in  sport  science practice,  is  because  it  required  an  invasive  muscle  biopsy.  However,  Professor Wim Derave and his team (‘Team Derave’) developed a technique in recent years called Muscle Talent Scan that can accurately estimate the muscle fiber type composition without biopsies, thus non-invasively, by an MRI scanner. This made it possible to analyze an athlete´s genetic potential for particular sporting activities and disciplines.

During the course of the last 2 years, Toshiba Medical collaborated with Team Derave with the objective to (1) apply the technique in various elite sports settings and (2) develop it further on the level of talent identification, training optimization and injury risk profiling.

On the occasion of the 2016 conference of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), Toshiba Medical organized a dedicated session on ‘Breakthroughs in CT and MRI’, where the prestigious collaboration between Ghent University, Toshiba Medical and Manchester United was announced. The RSNA hosts one of the largest medical meetings, each year in November in Chicago. With over 50,000 attendants it is the premier occasion for medical imaging companies to showcase their newest products and most exciting innovations.

With a lecture on ‘Sport science innovation: Elite athlete profiling with muscle MRI scanning’, Wim Derave of the Department of Movement and Sports Sciences at Ghent University discussed the opportunities of the Muscle Talent Scan. His presentation can now be seen on the net.

In the meantime, Toshiba Medical provides medical imaging equipment, including state-of-the-art 3T MRI systems, to three of the most prestigious sport teams in the world: Manchester United, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Their collaboration with the research team of Wim Derave is directed to explore applications beyond the clinical and to translate research into sport science practice.

At this moment in time, Prof Derave is staying for 6 months in Australia. His goal is to connect with local sports performance trainers, training institutes, scientific research groups, etc. His next lecture is planned this week at Griffith University.

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