A team of researchers from Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) was recently awarded the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) Prevention of Youth Sports Injuries Grant in honor of Dr James Andrews.

The $138,500 grant will be used to help the team study the structural and functional changes that occur during rehabilitation to help reduce the risk of injuries in young baseball pitchers.

“There is very little known about how rehabilitation affects scapula (shoulder) motion during pitching and if pitch count can increase the risk of re-injury,” says Stephen Fealy, MD, sports medicine surgeon at HSS and the study’s lead investigator, in a media release from HSS.

“Our goal is to collect data to help inform sports medicine physicians about the effectiveness of rehabilitation in young athletes who haven’t undergone surgery in order to help decrease the risk of re-injury,” he adds.

The team developed a lightweight scapula tracker to measure scapulothoracic kinematics during pitching, which according to Fealy, is being used in their study to gather more comprehensive data, “as we know the 3D motion of the scapula during pitching is a key contributor to shoulder pain.”

In their study, the researchers recruited 12 baseball pitchers ages 15 to 18 with no history of shoulder pain as a control group. Each participant threw 90 pitches and was evaluated for possible fatigue and change in ball velocity, per the release.

The team then plan to recruit 20 male high school baseball pitchers ages 15 to 18 who show symptoms of loss of internal rotation of shoulders (glenohumoral internal rotation deficit, or GIRD), and will compare 3D functional, performance, or strength measures.

Upon recruitment, participants will be evaluated on structural and strength measures, kinematic assessment of the scapula coupling, and physical therapy rehabilitation. After the therapy team approves the participant’s return to sport (typically 14 to 32 weeks later), the participant will return to the HSS Motion Analysis Lab to perform the full pitching protocol, according to the release.

Although the study is geared toward baseball pitchers, the findings may be relevant to overhead athletes such as tennis players and football quarterbacks.

[Source(s): Hospital for Special Surgery, PR Newswire]