News - Putting an End to Season-Ending Injuries

Putting an End to Season-Ending Injuries

Putting an End to Season-Ending Injuries

In 2010, freshman Haley Thatcher played only four soccer games in a Greenville College jersey before one quick movement sidelined her. She spent the rest of the season as a spectator, nursing a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Josh Weinhandl '05 has made his career studying injuries like Haley's. "Women are six to eight times more likely to injure the ACL than their male counterparts in similar sports," he says. Josh is director of the Neuromechanics Laboratory at Old Dominion University where he also teaches classes in exercise science. He received his master's degree in exercise science from Ball State University and his doctorate in health sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Athletes like soccer and basketball players employ quick cutting motions, jumping, and rapid changes in direction - all movements linked to ACL injuries. "If we can determine the cause of the injury, it may be possible to develop training programs that will help female athletes reduce the risk of ACL injury," he says.

Biomechanics captured Josh's interest when he was a student and athlete at Greenville College. With an aptitude for math and science plus a love for sports, he found an engaging new world in Dr. Robert Johnson's classroom studying exercise physiology and kinesiology. "It seemed like a perfect fit," he explains. "It allowed me to quantify human movement in an attempt to understand and prevent injury and improve performance."

Johnson also introduced Josh to the problem solving and critical thinking skills needed for research - how to identify a gap within the literature, spot a problem in the gap, and form a research question around the problem. Josh now supervises researchers in ten ongoing studies that include the investigation of acute injuries like Haley's, and chronic conditions like hip and knee osteoarthritis.

Through his work with ACL injuries in college athletes, Josh Weinhandl may once again put his stamp on the playing fields and gymnasium at Greenville College. His research today in the biomechanics of musculoskeletal injuries and modeling and simulation of human movement may equip Lady Panthers with a safer way to train and play tomorrow.

This story was published on December 21, 2012

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