Thermal Imaging Assists Sports and Exercise Science Research

Image Credits: FLIR Systems

The Department of Sport and Exercise Science at Portsmouth University, UK reports on the advantages of using FLIR Systems thermal imaging cameras for measuring skin temperature at rest, during exercise, and recovery.

Skin temperature is an important physiological measure that can reflect the presence of illness and injury as well as provide insight into the localised interactions between the body and the environment. Historically, human skin temperature has been assessed using contact measurement devices including thermocouples and skin thermistors that have limitations.

Dr. Joe Costello, a senior lecturer in exercise physiology commented "I have used FLIR Systems thermal cameras in Australia, Ireland and the UK as my measurement technology of choice to assess human skin temperature. My research group is currently using FLIR thermal imaging cameras to examine the effects of different stress factors including temperature, hypoxia, clothing and exercise on human skin temperature".

The greatest advantage of thermal imaging over traditional methods of assessing skin temperature is the fact that it is non-invasive and portable. Thermal imaging does not have to be in contact with the skin, an obvious advantage for measurement, especially in a clinical context. Contact devices such as skin thermistors and thermocouples often consist of a thin metallic foil which serves as a heat spreader backed by a foam insulation pad. This has the potential of creating a layer of insulation over the area of skin being assessed and therefore significantly degrades the accuracy of the measured temperature. This artefact of testing, recording, and reporting erroneous skin temperature data is therefore troublesome. Another advantage that our FLIR thermal cameras offer over thermistors is the wealth of data that they can collect. Using our FLIR cameras, temperature variation over large areas of skin can be quantified quickly and accurately.

Dr. Joe Costello, Senior Lecturer, Exercise Physiology, Portsmouth University

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