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Published on November 20, 2018

Clinical research aims to reduce ACL injuries

Becky Heinert, MS, PT, SCS, physical therapist

Becky Heinert, MS, PT, SCS, physical therapist

ACL injuries are two to eight times more likely in female athletes than their male counterparts. Gundersen Health System Sports Medicine and the La Crosse Institute of Movement Science (LIMS), directed by Tom Kemozek, PhD, at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, are studying an innovative way to prevent this common injury.

"We know that certain mechanics of landing from a jump put athletes at a greater risk for knee injuries," states Becky Heinert, MS, PT, SCS, physical therapist at Gundersen Sports Medicine Winona. "What the LIMS team designed is a portable force plate and camera system that can help identify less desirable movement patterns and provide real-time feedback to athletes on their ground reaction forces, knee angles and the weight distribution on each leg during their landing."

This innovative "mobile lab" provides a relatively inexpensive and portable system to help identify and train athletes more susceptible to knee injuries, according to LIMS clinicians and researchers. There are no other functional assessment systems like this one on the market.

"This system provides a valuable tool to identify positions and forces that may place the athlete at a greater risk for injury. In addition, the feedback from the force plates and camera images are immediately displayed to educate and train participants on strategies to correct faulty movement patterns," explains Becky.

The LIMS team conducted a pilot study at UW-La Crosse to determine the validity and reliability of the system. It has since taken its portable assessment system on the road, offering feedback on jumping/landing to more than 100 La Crosse and Winona area high school and college female athletes.

"We have an excellent lab on campus, but my colleague Drew Rutherford, MS, and I saw that we could reach more athletes if we 'went mobile' to area schools. Our research has shown that we can make promising changes to the athlete's performance. We hope that further collaborative work will tell us how much training is needed for proper motor learning and who may be at most risk of injury," says Tom Kernozek, PhD, director, LIMS.

To learn more about this research study, contact Becky Heinert via MedLink at (800) 336-5465.

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