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Scott M. Lephart, Ph.D., A.T.C.
Biography


Freddie Fu, M.D.
Biography 

 

U.S. Senator Rick Santorum Presents Funding To University Of Pittsburgh And UPMC Sports Injury Researchers

Funding will support continuing Female ACL Injury Prevention Project


PITTSBURGH, August 24, 2004
Sports injury researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Centers (UPMC) Center for Sports Medicine have received federal funding for continued research examining risk factors and prevention strategies for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in female athletes.

U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) today presented a check for $100,000 to principal investigator Scott M. Lephart, Ph.D., A.T.C., at the University of Pittsburghs Neuromuscular Research Laboratory (NMRL), located within the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, in Pittsburghs South Side. Sen. Santorum worked to secure the funding through the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Omnibus as part of the FY 2004 Appropriations Bill passed earlier in the year.

This federal funding will support research to determine why female athletes have a higher risk for ACL injuries than males, said Sen. Santorum.

This important and generous award serves female athletes at a critical time as we continue our ongoing Female ACL Injury Prevention Project agenda, initiated in 1995, aimed at examining the epidemic of ACL injuries in female athletes and exploring methods to prevent the injury, said Dr. Lephart, who is director of the NMRL as well as associate professor and chairman of the sports medicine and nutrition department at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences , and associate professor in the orthopaedic surgery department at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

This research has significant womens health care implications as studies have shown that female athletes are up to eight times more likely to injure an ACL than their male counterparts, he added.

The ACL is the main stabilizing ligament in the knee joint, connecting the femur to the tibia. ACL injuries are common in fast-moving sports that involve sudden starting, stopping, turning, jumping and landing, such as in basketball, soccer and lacrosse.

ACL injury to a young female is far more devastating than simply missing a high school sports season. This injury often requires surgical repair and lengthy rehabilitation and begins a pattern of premature arthritic changes that can significantly reduce the physical activity of women as they age, thus affecting their ability to have physically fit lifestyles, said Freddie Fu, M.D., professor and chairman of the orthopaedic surgery department at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The NMRLs Female ACL Injury Prevention Project has included a series of studies to systematically uncover and examine modifiable neuromuscular and biomechanical characteristics related to the ACL that are different between male and female high school and collegiate athletes. Researchers have identified risk factors for non-contact ACL injury in females. For example, studies to date have shown the following: females have greater joint laxity than males, resulting in the joints diminished reaction time to potentially damaging forces; females have decreased quadriceps and hamstring strength, contributing to their tendency to land in an extended knee position; females have significantly greater lateral hamstring muscle activity subsequent to jumping and landing tasks, which indicates their inability to rely solely on ligamentous tissue.

The NMRL team has developed a physical training and conditioning program that was proven capable in altering these differing characteristics and risk factors for females. Further continuing research has validated the effectiveness of this interventional training program and has favorably assessed its role in reducing the likelihood of injury.

Supported by the new federal funding, present and upcoming research will seek to determine if the differences between genders are inherent or the result of development and/or societal influences. Currently, there are no data to suggest an appropriate age for initiating intervention training programs related to ACL injury. The NMRL investigators will assess boys and girls at various stages of development to see how the modifiable neuromuscular and biomechanical characteristics change from childhood to adulthood in both genders. Researchers hope these data will assist in determining the appropriate age at which to implement intervention training programs in order to optimize their effectiveness in ACL injury prevention.

The 3,500-square-foot NMRL is the applied research facility of the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences department of sports medicine and nutrition. Lab researchers collaborate with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicines department of orthopaedic surgery as the departments primary clinical research division. The state-of-the-art facility is equipped with technologically advanced assessment tools with which researchers investigate an array of sport-specific and joint-specific injuries. The NMRL staff focuses on neuromuscular and biomechanical fitness and conditioning assessment and uses that data to study the development of effective methods of injury prevention, treatment and rehabilitation as well as athletic performance enhancement.

Other major ongoing research projects of the NMRL include the Golf Injury Prevention Project, Cycling Injury Prevention Project and Shoulder Injury Prevention Project in addition to other studies involving balance and posture and ankle, knee and back injuries.

For more information, please access http://www.pitt.edu/~neurolab/.

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