ATOAC Research Highlight: The Biodynamics Research Laboratory at UNC Charlotte

Knee and ankle injuries are some of the most common musculoskeletal injuries. Most of the injuries occur during recreational or sports activities. Although the initial injury and prevention of that initial injury is important, even more concerning is the development of long term joint health issues and disability. At the ankle, large percentages (up to 75%) of patients that sustain a lateral ankle sprain go on to develop Chronic Ankle Instability (CAI). CAI is a leading factor in the development in posttraumatic osteoarthritis (OA) in the ankle. At the knee, one of the more common orthopedic injuries is a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Within 10 to 20 years after diagnosis approximately 50% of patients will develop knee OA. There is a need to determine why patients develop chronic joint dysfunction after these common knee and ankle injuries so we can try to prevent the development of OA. More importantly with either ankle or knee OA, the pain and disability suffered by these patients limits their physical activity levels. Physical inactivity is currently classified as one of the three highest risk behaviors in the development of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and is the second highest modifiable cause of cardiovascular arterial disease. Our team wants to make sure we can help patients return to as much function as possible to prevent the development of other chronic diseases.


The Biodynamics Research Laboratory at UNC Charlotte is a multidisciplinary team (Athletic Trainers, Exercise Physiologists, Biomechanics, and Engineers) that works together with the ultimate goal of maintaining function at as high of a level as possible after injury. We use both human and animal models to help us best explore the questions pertinent to prevention, treatment and restoration of full function. At the ankle we are currently following patients 1 year after an acute sprain to try to better understand how both the mechanical and neuromuscular system responds after injury and how that may lead to the development of chronic ankle instability. We are also measuring physical activity levels after ankle injury, and how that impacts OA development. At the knee, we are exploring different interventions following ACL reconstruction to improve strength and biomechanics to protect against second ACL injury and OA development. We are also measuring strength, biomechanics, functional performance, and self-reported outcomes after ACL reconstruction to better identify those individuals who need supplemental intervention to mitigate risk of OA development.


Our lab group will be presenting research at the 2015 American College of Sports Medicine meeting (San Diego, CA) and at the National Athletic Trainers Association Annual Meeting (St. Louis, MO). Please come find us and chat!

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