Jan 29, 2015
Research Recap

By Mike Phelps

Approximately 1,300 athletic trainers, sports medicine specialists, physical therapists, and physicians convened in San Diego, Calif., July 7-10 for the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. Here, Training & Conditioning recaps the highlights of the presentations.

In one study discussed at the meeting, Timothy A. McGuine, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin discovered that lace-up ankle braces reduced the incidence of acute ankle injuries among high school basketball players. They studied 1,460 male and female players between the ages of 13 and 18 years old who wore a synthetic, fabric, lace-up ankle brace, or a control group with no brace. Over the course of the study, 27 athletes wearing ankle braces suffered acute ankle injuries, while 78 athletes without braces suffered injuries.

“We found that lace-up ankle braces reduced the incidence of acute ankle injuries,” said McGuine, according to MDNews.com. “The data revealed that students in the control group, who did not wear lace-up ankle braces, were three times more likely to incur ankle injuries as compared to those who wore lace-up ankle braces. However, we also found that wearing the ankle brace did not reduce acute ankle injury severity. Widespread use of lace-up ankle braces has the potential to significantly reduce the number of injuries in these athletes and save millions of health care dollars currently spent to treat them.”

In another presentation, Tinker Gray, of the Shelbourne Knee Center in Indianapolis, discovered, along with co-workers, that the incidence of osteoarthritis on radiographs in the long-term after ACL reconstruction was lower when patients achieved and maintained normal knee range of motion.

“Of patients who achieved normal knee range of motion, 71 percent had normal radiographs,” Gray said, according to MDNews.com. “This compares to only 55 percent with normal radiographs in patients who had knee range of motion deficits. Future studies looking at factors related to osteoarthritis in the long-term outcome of ACL reconstruction should include a critical evaluation of knee range of motion.”

A third study, by Scott Rodeo, M.D., and colleagues at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, showed that vitamin D deficiency was related to an increased risk of muscle injuries for NFL players. Eighty-nine players from a single team were examined and tested for vitamin D levels during preseason evaluations in the spring of 2010. Of the players tested, 16 of them experienced a muscle injury during their careers. When researchers looked at the vitamin D levels of these 16 athletes, they found the average to be 19.9 nanograms per milliliter. That figure is just below the official cut off for a deficiency and well below the normal recommended value of 32 nanograms per milliliter.

“We found that individuals who sustained a muscle injury had significantly lower vitamin D levels compared to players who did not sustain a muscle injury,” Rodeo said, according to MDNews.com. “This finding should be interpreted with caution, however, as this relationship was based on vitamin D levels drawn in the pre-season, while the muscle injuries occurred later (during the season). Although our data suggest that vitamin D deficiency does occur in athletes and that it may relate to muscle injury, vitamin D supplementation should be approached carefully. There is still controversy as to the vitamin D levels that are optimal for athletic performance.”

Researchers also found a discrepancy in the vitamin D levels of white and black players. White players had a mean vitamin D value of 30.3 nanograms per milliliter, while black players averaged only 20.4. According to the Consumer Reports article, “Blacks tend to have lower levels because their darker skin makes it harder for the body to produce the vitamin from sunlight.”

Mike Phelps is an Assistant Editor at Training & Conditioning.

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