What is Ergometry?

an ergometer on an athlete close up

Ergometry is a science that measures amounts of work activity, specifically, the measuring of the amount of physical work done by the body, usually during exertion. Ergometry is aimed at the performance of specific muscles or muscle groups and also includes a measure of power.

Practical Example of Ergometry in Healthcare

It is an ergometric stress test that is used to identify or exclude ischemic heart disease. The patient is submitted to physical exercise, usually on a treadmill or stationary bicycle, in order to increase his heart rate. As the pulse rate rises, the ECG records changes that may occur. These changes could be evidence of cardiac distress related to an oxygen deficit.

If the stress test is indicative of ischemia, physicians can build a plan of care that might include anything from diet management to medications and even surgical interventions. At specific intervals after the interventions are put in place, the patient will submit to subsequent ergometric stress tests to measure how well the interventions are working.

There have been some recent advances in the tools used in ergometrics including the arm ergometer, which looks like bicycle pedals for the arms. It has been found that patients can get almost as accurate a reading from the arm cycle as from using their legs on any of the more standard pieces of equipment. Now, people with balance issues, missing lower limbs or paralysis can benefit from ergometric testing too.

Ergometry Outside the Healthcare Industry

As the science evolves, practical applications are being discovered and used in fields outside of the general healthcare industry. For instance, athletic coaches, trainers and physicians are becoming more data driven in their assessments through the use of ergometry. Data is collected and used to measure things like heart function, breathing ability, and whether or a not a muscle is strong enough to achieve a specific task it is given.

One area where ergometry is playing a major role is in the diagnosing and treatment of football players who may have suffered a concussion. From the peewee leagues to the pros, athlete injuries – especially concussions – are being taken very seriously. How they perform in simple ergometric stress tests like the use of a stationary bike, treadmill or rowing machine is used to help determine if they are well enough to return to the game or need time to recuperate and then be tested again. Similar tests are now being put to use in other sports and activities including hockey, rugby and even rodeo bull riding.

Related: Sports Medicine Technology

Ergometric assessment is also being used by exercise physiologists to provide in-depth analysis and training recommendations for working athletes at all levels. Ergometry can be used to better understand energy expenditure, and the energy cost of performing specific exercises. The data can then be used to build better, more efficient training programs and regimens.

Ergometric data can lead to teaching the body how to be more efficient during energy expenditure and how to use that energy for more powerful and efficient performance. With continuous testing at regular intervals the athlete’s interpreted data can help build stronger performance with fewer injuries.

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