Underwater near-infrared spectroscopy measurements of muscle oxygenation: laboratory validation and preliminary observations in swimmers and triathletes


© The Authors.The purpose of this research was to waterproof a near-infrared spectroscopy device (PortaMon, Artinis Medical Systems) to enable NIR measurement during swim exercise. Candidate materials were initially tested for waterproof suitability by comparing light intensity values during phantom-based tissue assessment. Secondary assessment involved repeated isokinetic exercises ensuring reliability of the results obtained from the modified device. Tertiary assessment required analysis of the effect of water immersion and temperature upon device function. Initial testing revealed that merely covering the PortaMon light sources with waterproof materials considerably affected the NIR light intensities. Modifying a commercially available silicone covering through the addition of a polyvinyl chloride material (impermeable to NIR light transmission) produces an acceptable compromise. Bland-Altman analysis indicated that exercise-induced changes in tissue saturation index (TSI %) were within acceptable limits during laboratory exercise. Although water immersion had a small but significant effect upon NIR light intensity, this resulted in a negligible change in the measured TSI (%). We then tested the waterproof device in vivo illustrating oxygenation changes during a 100 m freestyle swim case study. Finally, a full study compared club level swimmers and triathletes. Significant changes in oxygenation profiles when comparing upper and lower extremities for the two groups were revealed, reflecting differences in swim biomechanics.

Journal of Biomedical Optics