Publication by interdisciplinary team sheds light on interventions to prevent injury in athletes | VTX

The excitement of watching a basketball player sprint down the court, jump through the air and slam dunk the ball is unlike any other. But from an athlete’s perspective, especially those who have just returned from an injury, the question is often how could this damage their knee? How likely are they to tear their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) again?

These types of questions are addressed in a recent publication by Robin Queen, faculty member Kevin P. Granata and professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering, in the journal Physical Therapy in Sport. Queen, alongside colleagues at Virginia Tech and in collaboration with the Carilion Orthopedic Surgery Clinic, examined the effectiveness of a new biofeedback intervention to improve landing mechanics in patients following ACL reconstruction.

A Virginia Tech faculty member since 2015, Queen pursues an interdisciplinary approach that integrates fundamental engineering, patient care, and the development of new tools. Through therapeutic interventions, his research identifies movement and load asymmetries to prevent overuse and degenerative lower extremity injuries.

For this study, she developed a new therapeutic intervention in collaboration with other experts, namely Tina Savla, professor of human development and family sciences at the College of Liberal Arts and Humanities; Thomas Ollendick, Emeritus University Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the College of Science; Thomas K. Miller, sports medicine doctor at the Carilion Orthopedic Surgery Clinic; Stephen Messier, professor of health and exercise sciences and director of the JB Snow Biomechanics Laboratory at Wake Forest University; and Alex Peebles, who earned a Ph.D. in 2020 from the Department of Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech.

The study’s new biofeedback intervention incorporated visual feedback — like seeing the real-time graph of the force under an athlete’s feet — and tactile feedback — like placing a resistance band around their knee while doing squats. To assess the effectiveness of the biofeedback intervention, researchers worked with participants in a 12-week clinical trial. All participants had a previous ACL injury and intended to return to sport.

Jacob L. Thornton