The goals of this project are to identify risk factors for hamstring strain injury (HSI), evaluate novel imaging methods that could improve post-injury prognosis, and determine if more detailed assessments of movement mechanics and sports performance provide important information that helps us to better understand the causes and effects of hamstring strain injuries. The knowledge gained from this research will be used by sports medicine clinicians and coaches to provide better care for athletes at risk for HSI by helping prevent injury and assisting in returning athletes to sport with more complete recovery and reduced chance of re-injury. This study will assess Division I collegiate men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, track, and football teams over multiple years. Athletes will be monitored by athletic trainers, who will record injuries and sport participation (e.g., time in practice, game). Those who sustain HSI will undergo a clinical assessment at the time of injury along with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations. Following completion of a rehabilitation program, imaging will be repeated, along with performance measurements. Twelve weeks after the athlete has returned to sport, all imaging and performance tests will be repeated. This study will provide the most detailed understanding of the physiological causes and effects of HSI, advancing our understanding of the processes affecting muscle function and improving our ability to evaluate, treat, and prevent HSI.
Specifically, our aims are:
1: To establish the repeatability of our diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) protocol to ensure our methods are reliable.
2: To investigate whether novel MRI measurements for muscle injury are more strongly associated with clinical and biomechanical deficit measures following successful treatment for HSI than conventional MRI measurements.
3: To determine whether novel quantitative MRI measures of muscle recovery, biomechanical measures, and clinical assessment at the time of return to sport are predictive of injury recurrence.