Sports Medicine Research: Current Studies

The UW Health Sports Medicine research program conducts timely, leading-edge research on a variety of issues for athletes of all ages.


Listed below are research studies currently being conducted at the UW Health Sports Medicine Center. 


Assessing the Effect of Helmet Brand on the Incidence of Sport-related Concussion in High School Football Players


Principal Investigator: Tim McGuine, PhD


Background: Sport-related concussion (SRC) is now recognized as a major public health concern. An estimated SRC 300,000 occur annually in the US with 40,000 occurring in high school football alone. The primary piece of equipment utilized to prevent a player from sustaining SRC is the football helmet. In recent years, football helmet manufacturers have modified existing helmets and introduced helmets with claims of offering the maximum protection or reducing the risk of concussion. Unfortunately, there is little if any evidence that the use of a specific football helmet brand will make it more or less likely that a high school football player will sustain SRC while actually participating in high school football. Learn more


Objectives: The purpose of this study is to determine if the incidence of SRC differs in high school football players based on three helmet brands used by high school football players.


Subjects: An estimated 1,750 to 2,100 high school football players from 35 high schools across Wisconsin.



Hamstring Strains: The Effect of Rehabilitation on Re-injury Rates and Neuromuscular Biomechanical Properties


Principal Investigator: Marc Sherry, PT, DPT, LAT, CSCS


Background: The hamstring is one of the most often-injured areas of the body. There is a lack of agreement in regards to rehabilitation of hamstring strain injuries. Until recently, re-injury rates were commonly between 30 and 50 percent. To date few studies evaluate the best methods to rehabilitate hamstring injuries and prevent injury recurrence.


Objectives: The purpose of this study is to compare the outcome of two current methods for rehabilitating acute hamstring injuries. Potential benefits include significantly reduced health care costs and an earlier return to work and recreation for the injured athletes.


Subjects: Adolescent and adult athletes who have sustained a recent hamstring muscle injury.



The Effect of Ankle Braces on Injury Rates in High School Basketball Players


Principal Investigators: Tim McGuine, PhD, ATC and Alison Brooks, MD, MPH


Background: Ankle injuries are the most common injury in high school athletes in the United States, with 78,000 occurring in female and male high school basketball players annually. An estimated $11,900 per athlete (direct and indirect costs) is spent each year to treat these injuries. Further, 30 percent of the athletes who sustain ankle injuries will experience long-term negative consequences that severely impact their ability to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle as adults. The most common method to reduce ankle injuries is to have participants wear ankle braces. To date, there is no scientific evidence proving ankle braces reduce these injuries in high school athletes.


Objectives: To determine the effect ankle braces have on injury rates and injury in high school basketball players.


Subjects: 1,460 male and female Wisconsin high school basketball players.



The Effect of Ankle Braces on Injury Rates in High School Football Players


Principal Investigators: Tim McGuine, PhD ATC; Alison Brooks, MD, MPH; John Wilson, MD.


Background: Ankle injuries are the most common injury for high school football players. It is widely accepted by many football coaches that wearing ankle braces will reduce the chance players will sustain ankle injuries. As a result, high school football players are often asked to purchase and wear lace-up ankle braces. However, there is no evidence that wearing ankle braces will actually reduce the likelihood of these injuries.


Objectives: To determine whether using lace-up braces reduces the number of ankle injuries in high school football players.


Subjects: 2250 Wisconsin high school football players.



Long Term Outcomes of Knee Injuries in Physically Active Adolescent and Young Adult Females

Principal Investigators: Kathleen Carr, MD; Tim McGuine, PhD, LAT; Andrew Winterstein, PhD


Background: Female athletes participating in sports and fitness activities demonstrate a three- to six-times higher incidence of knee injuries than males. Research to date has focused on the incidence, mechanism and treatment options for these injuries. Previous studies on outcomes following knee injury have focused primarily on the effects of surgical techniques, and have included limited data (knee function) on adults and subjects with short (less than one year) follow-up.


Objective: To determine the outcomes of knee injury, including knee function, physical activity level and overall health in physically active adolescent and young adult females for two years following injury.