Sports-Related Injury

Sports-Related Injuries research is concerned with lowering the risk of injuries for both competitive and recreational athletes, and improving methods to return an injured athlete to the playing field in a safe, timely manner. Current research projects in this field include:

ACL Injuries – Effect of Compound Impulsive Loading on ACL Strain

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries of the knee are common. It has recently become clear that these injuries can cause degenerative arthritis in as little as seven years post-injury. With an estimated 300,000 ACL tears surgically treated in the U.S. in 2005 there is a need to better prevent these injuries. Our research, funded by an NIH R01 grant, involves experimental studies of over 100 cadaver knees in which we apply compound, 3-D, impulsive loads to the musculoskeletal preparation, in order to detemerine which combination of loads (i.e., internal or external rotation, varus/valgus, flexion, compression) causes the highest ACL strain. Insights will provide the basis for improved injury prevention programs at any age in the future.

Primary Investigators: Dr. James Ashton-Miller, Dr. Edward Wojtys (Orthopaedics)
Graduate Student Researcher: Youkeun Oh

ACL Injuries – Effect of Gender Differences on ACL Strain Under Compound Impulsive Loading

It is unknown why ACL ruptures are between two and eight times more common in women than in men participating in the same sports at the same competition level. Previous research in our laboratory has shown that women have less knee strength and torsional stiffness when compared to male controls. We believe the lower knee strength and torsional stiffness in women provides less protection for the ACL, permitting a greater ACL strain than males. This research will focus on a better understanding of the gender difference of ACL strain using both an experimental compund impulsive loading apparatus and a finite element model.

Primary Investigators: Dr. James Ashton-Miller, Dr. Edward Wojtys (Orthopaedics)
Graduate Student Researcher: David Lipps
 (supported by a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship)


It is always difficult for a coach or athletic trainer to know whether to return a player who has sustained a concussion to the game. The danger is that if he or she sustains a second concussion before the symptoms from the first concussion have resolved, then temporary or even permanent brain injury can result. We are developing a portable, low-cost, and reliable test for measuring reaction time on the sideline. To validate our test, we are correlating the measured reaction times with the reaction needed to protect one’s self from a ball launced at high speeds from an air cannon directly at the face. If a good correlation is found, we will launch field tests of the new method.

Primary Investigators: Dr. James Richardson (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation), Dr. James T. Eckner (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation), Dr. James Ashton-Miller
Graduate Student Researchers: Hogene Kim, David Lipps