Developing New Knowledge: An Important Part of UI Sports Medicine

Providing evidence-based clinical care is the principal focus of the UI Sports Medicine team. Achieving this goal requires continual vigilance in evaluating evidence related to sports medicine care. Thanks largely to research, significant advancements in understanding and treating sports injuries have been made over the past couple of decades. One of UI Sports Medicine 's primary missions is to produce new knowledge through quality research on sports injuries and their treatment. This important objective is fundamental to providing the best quality patient care as well as our goal of being leaders in the sports medicine field.

The UI Sports Medicine team has several ongoing research projects related to the treatment of knee, shoulder, and ankle injuries such as ACL, meniscus, rotator cuff, shoulder dislocations, and syndesmotic (high) ankle sprains. Our long-term goal is to generate knowledge that advances sports medicine practice and improves patient outcomes and quality of life.

UI Sports Medicine's research endeavors are highly collaborative. Most projects bring together members of the sports medicine team with clinicians and scientists in other departments at The University of Iowa.

We are also conducting research in conjunction with investigators from other institutions across the U.S. For example, the Multi-center Orthopaedic Outcomes Network (MOON) includes clinician-scientists at UI, Vanderbilt University (central site), Washington University at St. Louis, the Cleveland Clinic, the Hospital for Special Surgery—New York, Ohio State University, and the University of Colorado. The goal is to perform important research that would not be feasible without such a group effort.

For example, the MOON group recently demonstrated that the incidence of rupturing the ACL graft and the incidence of tearing the ACL of the opposite leg are about equal (3 percent each) after an ACL reconstruction based on a two-year follow-up of 235 ACL reconstructed patients. Identification of factors that are key predictors of outcomes following knee and shoulder surgery is a primary focus of this collaboration. The MOON collaboration received National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding last year to study factors related to the incidence of osteoarthritis after ACL reconstruction.

UI Sports Medicine specialists also are studying technologies that may allow us to detect changes in cartilage health before significant degeneration and related pain or disability occurs. This might enable early intervention to minimize the severity of posttraumatic osteoarthritis.

Other research is directed at minimizing quadriceps atrophy and weakness after knee trauma and surgery; studying the effects of social and psychological factors in sports injuries; evaluating treatment methods for rotator cuff injuries; and assessing meniscus surgery outcomes.

We strongly believe that our efforts to develop new knowledge about sports medicine is among the most meaningful contributions we can make. You can help. You may be asked to participate in a research project. Participation in any study we perform is strictly voluntary and you can withdraw from participation at any time. You can also support our research financially. Although we are actively pursuing funding for our projects at all levels, many of our projects are funded internally, especially in the early stages when we are developing ideas for submission to large funding agencies. Gifts to our research fund of any amount help us pursue this expensive mission.

Our research results are published in peer-reviewed biomedical journals so the findings are widely distributed from credible sources.

Glenn Williams, PhD, PT, ATC