University of Wisconsin–Madison

Wisconsin Injury in Sport Laboratory

Research Questions 

  • What are the consequences of early sport specialization?
  • What neuromuscular deficits exist after ACL reconstruction and how do they impact function and physical activity?
  • How can we improve patient outcomes after ACL surgery?

Our research is focused on making sports safer for kids. In the United States, an estimated 60 million youths between 6-18 years old participate in organized athletics. Despite the well-documented benefits of sports participation, sport related injuries are of the utmost concern since they can have a large impact on children quitting sports and ending participation in physical activity. Specifically, Dr. Bell is interested in sport specialization (focusing on one sport year round) and understanding the factors that influence sport specialization and how they are related to injury.

Additionally, our research is focused on injury prevention and rehabilitation and how this affects long-term knee health and physical activity. While we are interested in all injuries, we have special focus on the knee and injuries to the Anterior Cruciate ligament (ACL). Females are at a greater risk of suffering a non-contact ACL injury compared to males that participate in similar sports. After sustaining a non-contact ACL injury, the risk of suffering a subsequent injury is tenfold. Unfortunately, the course of treatment for an ACL sprain (i.e. conservative/non-surgical versus surgical reconstruction) does not influence the high prevalence of osteoarthritis. Thus, adolescent individuals who suffer an ACL injury may develop osteoarthritis by the time they reach their 20s. These consequences demonstrate the need to intervene with individuals with a history of an ACL injury to find ways to prevent osteoarthritis development and subsequent injuries.

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