An AT’s Journey with Technology

July 13, 2020 by Beth Sitzler

By Doug Padron, ATC, Senior Sports Strategist, Sparta Science 


Advertorial: Sparta Science is machine-learning software that objectively measures movement over 60-90 seconds to determine strength, proprioception, and injury risk while providing a prescription to mitigate that risk. Now that Sparta has been published in several peer-review journals, the patented technology is currently being used effectively by athletic trainers in a variety of settings: sports, occupational health, and the military to support improved movement for an active lifestyle.

In 2011, I was hired by the University of San Francisco to create an athletic performance division from the ground up. The athletic department had been averaging $450K in medical expenses annually and the teams were not successful. My objective was to treat each of our 200 student athletes as an individual, utilizing the four disciplines of athletic training, strength & conditioning, sports psychology and nutrition.

The original plan had our team using the FMS to identify injury risk and ROM deficiencies. I quickly realized the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of that strategy. Shortly after, I was introduced to Dr. Phil Wagner, CEO of Sparta Science. Immediately intrigued by his vision, I was an early subscriber to the software.

Implementing Sparta Science at USF in 2012 was a game changer for the athletic department from Day 1. The software gave the athletic performance team the opportunity to identify injury risks while providing a prescription to correct strength and ROM deficiencies. Sparta is a shared technology, utilized by both athletic trainers and strength & conditioning coaches, with data that is relevant to sport coaches and administrators as well. Some USF results over seven years of implementation:

  • Cut annual medical expenses from $450K to $160K
    • 102 MRI's ordered in 2011, 38 in 2018
    • 59 surgeries performed in 2011, 23 in 2018
    • Saved the university $2.3 Million 
    • Significantly decreased the secondary insurance premium 
  • The men’s basketball team only had two surgeries in seven years 
    • Every single student athlete on the roster was healthy and available for 185 of the 215 games played after implementing Sparta 

In my 23 years as a certified athletic trainer, my daily goal was to have a positive impact on the student athletes. I’ve been fortunate to create and be involved in many education and leadership initiatives that made a difference for them, but nothing compares to the impact Sparta Science had on the Dons. The student athlete experience was significantly improved due to our switch from reactive medicine to a proactive approach that incorporated the entire athletic department. Best of all, the reduction in medical expenses allowed us to reinvest those savings into additional services and programming.

In March of 2019, I decided to leave the University of San Francisco. I wanted to have an impact beyond the borders of one institution. I joined Sparta Science as a strategist, focusing on our continued growth into sports organizations. In my current role I work closely with our athletic training clients and potential customers to assist them with improving the movement experience for their end users.

While Sparta has always been a tool for both sports medicine and sports performance professionals, our reputation in the past has been as a tool suited for performance. After sharing my experiences with Sparta and the technology with many athletic trainers over the past year, it has been extremely rewarding to see ATs feel empowered to advocate for and integrate this tool to more effectively serve student athletes while being more efficient in their own day-to-day.

As a young aspiring athletic trainer in the mid-nineties I could not have imagined that my journey in this great profession would take me to Silicon Valley; however, when you have a mission to positively impact the lives of others there is no telling what doors will open in the pursuit. 

Sparta Science empowers the athletic trainer with an objective movement analysis which helps to validate their already educated point of view. Please visit our exhibit booth in the 2020 NATA Virtual Clinical Symposia & AT Expo or website to learn about our technology and how our team can assist you in making a positive impact on your organization.


Disclaimer: NATA is not responsible for omissions, misprints, or other proofing errors and does not endorse this advertiser. The opinions expressed in this advertisement are those of the advertiser alone and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of NATA. Statements and data have been provided by the advertiser alone and have not been authenticated.