Game Ready cold compression system
Bison Athletics

How NDSU Programs Success: 21st Century Treatment

Technology, machines and research have transformed an outdated recovery room in the old Bison Sports Arena into an on-site clinic in the Sanford Health Athletic Complex.

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Photos By Hillary Ehlen

Technology continues to change how we live our life. And when it comes to college athletics, this couldn’t be any more true. Whether it’s from filming games and practices to recruiting, from highlight videos to injury recovery, technology has played a major role in making it all happen more efficiently.

We delve into all of the newest technological improvements in the NDSU athletic department and how it benefits Bison student-athletes.

Read more parts of Bison Illustrated‘s “How NDSU Programs Success” cover story here.


While getting North Dakota State athletes physically ready for in-season action is a matter of picking things up and setting them down, making sure those athletes are recovering after competition is just as important over the course of the season.


Technology, machines and research have transformed an outdated recovery room in the old Bison Sports Arena into an on-site clinic in the Sanford Health Athletic Complex.


The underwater treadmill is one of the biggest upgrades the NDSU sports medicine staff received. It puts an athlete recovering from a surgery weeks ahead in the rehab process by allowing them to do workouts they wouldn’t be able to do on land. It doesn’t need to be used just for post-surgical athletes, though. Any athlete who is on their feet a lot, such as a long-distance runner, can do a workout in the pool to relieve stress on the lower joints.


FACT: More than 200 hours of training or rehab sessions have been done on the underwater treadmill since being installed last October.

Working out on the underwater treadmill takes 80 percent body weight off of joints.


The therapy pool has two underwater cameras, one facing straight forward and one on the side.

  • For post-surgical athletes rehabbing, the staff is looking at their walking or running pattern. For example, are they bowlegged, are their ankles rolling in or out, how is their foot hitting the treadmill, how are they pushing off?
  • For athletes who have had numerous lower-body injuries, the staff can take them in the therapy pool and essentially fix how they’re walking and/or running. Squat forms can also be corrected using the underwater cameras.


The hot tub is used to relax athletes, but also to get their blood circulating to help recover. A popular recovery tool is a massage hose that hooks up to the hot tub jets. This gets used about five hours every day.

Hot tub ndsu

“The biggest thing is getting them to relax. It’s so hard to get an athlete to relax, whether it’s mentally or physically.” – Mike Kjellerson, NDSU Director of Sports Medicine


The cold tub is the most used by the athletes. It can fit between 10-20 people, depending on the size of the athletes, compared to the 3-person silver ice buckets from the BSA days. Many athletes do a contrast bath, meaning going back-and-forth between the hot and cold tubs. The idea is to get the blood vessels opening and closing to cause a pumping motion to pump out any bad inflammatory nutrients.

cold tub ndsu

“Once you’re done with your activity, it lowers that inflammation process. If you ask any athlete here, it does a miracle. It gets everything slowing down and limits the amount of inflammation that happens after working out.” – Mike Kjellerson, NDSU Director of Sports Medicine


Game Ready Wrap
The Game Ready cold compression system is a recovery tool that works as an ice bath for a specific body part and squeezes out any excess fluid with the compression.

Game Ready cold compression system

X-Ray Machine
The SHAC has its own X-ray machine through Sanford. The purpose of adding the machine to the training area is to avoid having to run all over town or schedule appointments at different clinics when an athlete is hurt. Sanford has someone come in twice a week to run the machine. NDSU can get results within two hours of the X-rays instead of waiting, which speeds up the rehab process.

SHAC xray machine

“(Sanford) treats it as a clinic here. They can do the same thing, whether it be billing or looking at records, as they can do at their own clinic. Basically, we have an X-ray room clinic in our sports medicine area.” – Mike Kjellerson, NDSU Director of Sports Medicine


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How NDSU Programs Success: 21st Century Treatment
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