Cincinnati Children's Seeking High School and College Athletes for Knee Injury Study Funded by the National Football League Charities

Researchers Continue Search for Partners in their Recruitment Efforts

Monday, November 24, 2008

CINCINNATI - Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is currently recruiting high school and college athletes to take part in a study to identify the long-term impact of knee ligament injuries, specifically the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The study is funded by the National Football League (NFL) Charities.

"Traumatic injury to the ACL is one of the most common and devastating athletic injuries. Once injured, these athletes are at extremely high-risk for developing future knee injuries in the short term and knee arthritis within 5-15 years. This means that an athlete in college who suffers an ACL injury, could have knees that feel like his or her grandparents'," says Mark Paterno, PT, a physical therapist and researcher in sports medicine at Cincinnati Children's and the study's lead researcher. "This study will help us identify those factors that put these athletes at risk for further joint injury and damage."

The year-long study requires participants between the ages of 10 and 25 years who have sustained an ACL injury. Participant recruitment is ongoing. Researchers will use strength and performance tests, and three-dimensional virtual modeling of the athletes. Athletes will be followed and their performance will be measured throughout their sports seasons.

Associates of the study include Jon Divine, MD, Medical Director of The Sports Medicine Biodynamics Center at Cincinnati Children's, Angelo Colosimo, MD, Assistant Professor and Director of the Division of Sports Medicine at the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Team Physician of Larry A. Ryle High School and the Cincinnati Bengals, and Robert S. Heidt, Jr., MD, Co-Director of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at Wellington, UC and Mercy Hospital Anderson Fellowship Program and Team Physician of the Cincinnati Bengals and St. Xavier High School.

Cincinnati Children's received the $125,000 grant in October 2008. This is the research groups' fifth grant from the NFL Charities totaling well over half a million dollars. It is the medical center's third study focusing on long-term impact of ACL injuries on sports performance and long-term outcomes.

In the NFL, ACL injuries are the number one reason players miss games. An average of one ACL injury occurs per week and recent survey of NFL team physicians suggest that up to 25% of injured players do not return to the same level of competitive play.

The research team is continuously looking for partners in their recruitment efforts, including physicians, surgeons, sports physical therapists, athletic trainers and sports researchers. "Getting athletes back to competition after ACL injury is dependent on the contribution of the entire medical team," says Paterno. "The findings from this study will provide physicians, therapists, trainers and coaches across the country with important information about the rehabilitation of athletes with ACL injuries and the necessary criteria to safely return to play."

 "Our main goal with this study is to provide information so that athletes can get back onto the field safely, with minimal risk of injury," says Paterno. "We want to avoid both the short term risks of re-injury and the long-term consequences of knee arthritis, which may occur with a ten-fold greater incidence in athletes with ACL injuries."

For more information on how to get involved, contact Mark Paterno at 513-636-0517 or

About the Sports Medicine Biodynamic Center at Cincinnati Children's

The Sports Medicine Center at Cincinnati Children's offers young athletes a state-of-the-art resource for sports injury care, sports injury prevention, performance training, research and education. No other place in the region offers a full spectrum of care to support the young athlete. The Center brings together sports medicine researchers, physicians, radiologists, sports physical therapists and a human performance lab to help young athletes be the safest and best they can be by:

  • Working collaboratively with children's doctors to offer seamless, sports-focused health care services 
  • Offering insights and expertise on the unique needs of the athlete 
  • Generating research and using evolving techniques to help each athlete achieve the best results.

About Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is one of America's top three children's hospitals for general pediatrics and is highly ranked for its expertise in digestive diseases, respiratory diseases, cancer, neonatal care, heart care and neurosurgery, according to the annual ranking of best children's hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. One of the three largest children's hospitals in the U.S., Cincinnati Children's is affiliated with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health. 

For its achievements in transforming healthcare, Cincinnati Children's is one of six U.S. hospitals since 2002 to be awarded the American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize ® for leadership and innovation in quality, safety and commitment to patient care. The hospital is a national and international referral center for complex cases, so that children with the most difficult-to-treat diseases and conditions receive the most advanced care leading to better outcomes.

Contact Information

Danielle Lewis, 513-636-9473,