IT at AC Milan gives injuries the red card
Italian club scores with knowledge management system to monitor players' health and fitness
Daniel Thomas, vnunet.com 26 Jan 2004
Champions League winner AC Milan has reduced sporting injuries by 90 per cent with a knowledge management system to monitor players' performances.
The Italian club claims that Premiership teams could save millions by using data modelling rather than gut instinct to reduce financial losses from ill-informed transfer decisions.
Trials of the MilanLab system, which kicked off in July 2002, have helped slash injuries from 41 to three in three years.
AC Milan's medical director believes that greater analysis through neural network technology, which is being rolled out next season, will help the coach to select his team in future.
Designed by Computer Associates (CA), MilanLab collates fitness, body composition, mental and dietary information to predict the chances of a player picking up an injury.
The system uses a web portal that links PDAs, gym machines and medical instruments to three predictive analysis servers and knowledge storage systems.
Modelling techniques are used to predict how players can improve diet, training and mental attitude to hit peak performance.
AC Milan medical co-ordinator Dr Jean-Pierre Meersseman said: "When I joined the club five years ago there was very little fitness data on current or previous players.
"I wanted health data on successful past players like [Marco] Van Basten and [Ruud] Gullit so we could emulate past victories, but there was none. Often when a coach leaves a club so does knowledge of the players."
During the team's 2002-2003 Champions League winning season physical, mental and biochemical data was collected on more than 50 first team and youth players.
"We also have eTrust security management as it is vital to have security profiles to keep player information safe and ensure only those with permission can access the portal," said Fabrizio Tittarelli, delivery director at Computer Associates.
But AC Milan had to overcome player resistance and introduce data privacy agreements to footballers' contracts before the system could go fully live.
"When they realised that it would make them more healthy and prolong their playing career they became much more accepting," said Daniele Tognaccini, athletics coach at AC Milan.
A spokesman for CA said others were interested in the system. "We are in discussions with three European sporting organisations to roll similar technology as has been used at AC Milan."