The league’s Scientific Advisory Board announced a four-year, $4 million award to a team of medical researchers led by the University of Wisconsin. The study is part of the NFL’s effort to better understand and prevent lower-extremity injuries, including soft tissue strains such as hamstrings.
Research will be led by Bryan Heiderscheit of the University of Wisconsin Orthopedics and Badger Athletic Performance in partnership with David Opar of Australian Catholic University SPRINT Centre and Silvia Blemker, co-founder of Springbok Analytics.
“When you look at the burden of injury overall, lower-extremity injuries and strains are the No. 1 time-loss injury in the NFL. It’s a huge problem that keeps our players off the field, so it’s become a priority of ours,” NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills told The Associated Press ahead of Thursday’s announcement.
In addition to funding medical research, the league is following a data-driven approach to attempt to reduce the incidence of lower extremity injuries by tracking and analyzing turf systems and cleat performance, evaluating injuries to determine how to improve training regimens, and partnering with NFL Medical committees to study knee ligament injuries.
“At the league, we recognize the significant burden hamstring injuries have on our elite athletes year after year, and have dedicated resources to analyzing the occurrence and type of lower extremity injuries to better identify ways we can further reduce them,” said Dr. Allen Sills, NFL Chief Medical Officer. “We’re hopeful that through the data-based approach outlined by Dr. Heiderscheit and his team, this funding will enable them to develop scientifically-based strategies that will advance the health and safety of our players in the years to come.”