In an effort to examine prevention and treatment of hamstring injuries, NFL’s Scientific Advisory Boards has awarded $4 million in fund to a team of researchers led by the University of Wisconsin.
The funding is the latest step in a mult-year initiative by the league to analyze and prevent lower body injuries, including those of the hamstring. Better injuries prevention methods mean players can remain on the field and for longer, avoiding nagging ailments that hinder their performance.
In addition to the research, the league will also be examining turf systems, cleat performance and training regimens in an attempt to curtail hamstring injuries.
“At the league, we recognize the significant burden hamstring injuries have on our elite athletes year after year, and have dedicated resources to analyzing the occurrence and type of lower extremity injuries to better identify ways we can further reduce them,” said Dr. Allen Sills, NFL Chief Medical Officer. “We’re hopeful that through the data-based approach outlined by Dr. Heiderscheit and his team, this funding will enable them to develop scientifically-based strategies that will advance the health and safety of our players in the years to come.”
According to the league, “researchers will combine state-of-the-art quantitative imaging, on-field biomechanics, and computational analytics to determine risk factors associated with initial and recurrent hamstring injuries and develop data-driven approaches to help individualize risk assessment.” They are also attempting to forge a roadmap that future studies will follow when analyzing such injuries and potential methods of prevention.
“The persistent symptoms, slow healing, and a high rate of re-injury make hamstring strains a frustrating and disabling injury for athletes and a challenge for sport medicine clinicians to treat,” said Dr. Bryan Heiderscheit, PT, PhD, FAPTA, Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, University of Wisconsin-Madison. “To truly understand and reduce hamstring injury risk requires a study of an unprecedented size and scope. Thanks to the commitment and funding support provided by the NFL, our multi-disciplinary team of researchers can now undertake an innovative, data-driven approach to this study, and assist sports medicine clinicians in advancing strategies for injury prevention and interventions to return athletes to sport quickly and with reduced risk for re-injury.”
By far the most common variety of injury suffered by NFL players, 75% of hamstring injuries cause them to miss time, according to the league’s data.