History of sports medicine - 1952


On March 19, 1952, the 'Wissenschaftlichen Rat für Körperkultur und Sport' (Scientific Council for Physical Culture and Sport) was founded in Leipzig with a 'Fachkommission Sportmedizin' (Professional Commission Sports Medicine), where numerous sports medicine dedicated clinicians, practitioners and professors from various disciplines of the GDR were chosen as 'ordinary' or 'corresponding' members. The priority task that the committee members had to solve was the preparation of the 'Guidelines for the exemption of compulsory sport in schools and educational institutions', as well as the 'content design of the sports medicine courses' and the 'teaching materials for sports medicine'.


More and more specially manufactured rowing machines were used for training purposes and for better strength measurements.

The original design contained a large, heavy and sturdy iron flywheel with a mechanical friction brake. It was developed by Australian John Harrison (1924-2012) of the Leichhardt Rowing Club in Sydney. In 1956 he competed with the coxless four at the Melbourne Olympics and later he became a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of New South Wales.

Harrison came up with this idea after he met Frank Cotton (1890-1955), professor of Physiology at the University of Sydney.


James B. Yu set the criteria for screening cardiovascular disease through treadmill tests:

  • ST depression > 1.0 mm
  • Change in T-wave (upwards - reversed)
  • Increase of T wave amplitude and Q-T duration


The University of Washington used treadmills for the diagnosis of heart and lung diseases. The device was an invention of Robert Bruce (1916-2004) and Wayne Quinton (1921-2015).

Robert Arthur Bruce (1916-2004) was an internationally recognized Professor of Cardiology at the University of Washington. Because of his multifaceted research and because of the development of the Bruce Protocol he is called the 'father of exercise cardiology'. Prior to the Bruce protocol there was no safe, standardized control of cardiac function in exercise tests. Sometimes the Master's Two-Step Test was used, but it was very tiring for most patients and also inadequate for assessing respiratory and circulatory functions during varying stress exercises. Most physicians relied on their patients' complaints during exercise and only examined them at rest. In order to tackle these problems, Bruce and his colleague Paul Yu (1915-1991) developed an exercise test for treadmill. For that test he used the latest technological ECG developments and motorized treadmills.

Bio-engineer Wayne Quinton (1921-2015) developed more than thirty biomedical devices. He graduated in biomedical technology at the University of Washington.


British physicians Sir Adolphe Abrahams (1883-1967) and Sir Arthur Porritt (1900-1994) founded the British Association of Sports and Medicine (BASM). Abrahams was the brother of Harold Abrahams (1899-1978), who won the 100m at the 1924 Olympics in Paris and Sidney Abrahams (1885-1957), who became British long-jump champion in 1913. Porritt was a surgeon in the army, from 1967 to 1972 Governor General of New Zealand and winner of the bronze medal at the 100m during the Paris Olympics.


Together with the company Monark, Per-Olof Åstrand (1922-2015), Professor of Physiology at the Karolinski Institute in Stockholm, built a mechanically braked ergometer bicycle. In order to brake the flywheel, he used a belt that was attached to the pivot of the swing drum, the crank arm and the pendulum weight. At rest, the pendulum was hanging perpendicularly and when pulling the brake band, it swung out. That outswing and thus the pulling force was readable in Kilopond on the Newton gauge scale.

1 mkp = 9.81 Joules (~ 10 joules) = 9.81 Newton meters (Nm ~ 10)

Per-Olof Åstrand (1922-2015) was one of the founders of modern exercise physiology. His research field was on the human oxygen transport system, the limiting factors for maximum aerobic capacity, the effects of environmental factors, the physical performance with respect to age and gender, health and fitness, the preventive medicine and the rehabilitation. Åstrand is known for his development of the Astrand Rhyming Cycle Test, a submaximal aerobic fitness test in which the subject is cycling for seven minutes at a constant workload and where the heart rate is recorded every minute.

Together with the Norwegian physiologist Käre Rodahl (1917-2008), he is also the author of the Textbook of Work Physiology, which was translated into seven languages. In total Åstrand published more than two hundred scientific works.

Åstrand also used the Douglas bag for measuring oxygen uptake with increasing load.


American cardiologists Paul N.G. Yu (1916-1991) and Alfred Soffer (1922-) (photo) from the University of Rochester summarized the following ECG changes with regard to ischemia

  • ST segment reduction of 1.0 mm or more
  • Change of the T-wave from upright to vice versa or from vice versa to upright
  • Increase in the amplitude of the T-wave of 50% or more over the resting angle
  • Extension of the QT / TQ ratio during exercise to more than 2

Yu and Soffer emphasized the value of a continuous monitoring and pointed out that the QT interval must be measured carefully. They proposed to set up the leading system as a bipolar lead from the right scapula to the V5 position, a configuration that was used by Robert Arthur Bruce (1916-2004) a few years later.