Ohio U. Study Focuses on ACL Rehab

ACL injury

Two-phase study concentrating on military-based injuries

While ACL injury rehabilitation programs often focus on the physical recovery of the knee and the muscle groups around it, research from Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions indicates the brain also plays a major role in successful returns after an ACL injury.

Dustin Grooms, PhD, associate professor in the School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness, recently led the first phase of a $750,000 research grant from the United States Department of Defense with the goal of improving the orthopedic healthcare for the war fighter and civilian populations.

Phase II of Grooms’ research project is underway; upon completion of the study, Grooms believes rehabilitation techniques will “drastically” change and its results will benefit many population types.

Medical studies have reported that as many as 200,000 ACL injuries occur annually in the United States; Grooms said about 70 percent of those are non-contact injuries and.

“Most of these people had the physical strength to keep their knee in a good position as they ran, cut or jumped — it was their brain that’s responsible for the error that led to the rupture,” said Grooms. “When it’s non-contact, your nervous system has likely let you down.”

Modern soldiers are often required to carry large amounts of equipment that can affect their center of mass and impact the load on the knees. Grooms said a common knee injury predictor tends to be related to control of upper body center of mass because of the effect it has on the ability to control the torque or rotational movements of the lower extremities.

Phase I of Grooms’ research focused on analyzing established techniques and lessons from orthopedic and sports medicine to develop a tactical performance assessment. Members of OHIO’s ROTC program performed various movements, including box landings, walking and 180-degree turns with a simulated AR-15 rifle.

Phase II of the study, which is anticipated to occur over a three-year period, involves the testing of 36 physically active subjects who have suffered an ACL injury and had it surgically repaired.

The study partners with Dr. Sergio Ulloa of OhioHealth to screen and recruit subjects. Grooms said patients who agree to participate in the study will visit Ohio University at various points during their rehabilitation phase to undergo both biomechanical and behavioral testing that includes imaging of the brain.

SOURCE: Ohio University

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