Muscle and bone health are a part of everyone's lives, but the importance of these systems is often overlooked until there is an injury. While most people can easily understand the implications of athletic injuries, they rarely think about the impact of injury on police, fire, military and other first responders or older adults and clinical populations. Our research focuses on these unique populations.
Young adults are at their prime age for getting the most out of their muscles and nerves for performance, and their goals in the gym aim to maximize their training to improve strength power or endurance. To help young adults do this, we assess those performance variables, develop and implement exercise intervention strategies and then reassess performance to examine the efficacy of the intervention.
As we age, we generally lose muscle strength and bone mass. When combined, these physiological vulnerabilities contribute to fall risk, loss of independence and reduced quality of life. Work we have conducted shows that even just eight weeks of resistance training can reverse bone and muscle loss, helping older adults to gain strength, self-confidence and better sleep while losing fat and reducing their risk of falls.
Sports vary greatly in the type of injuries sustained because each sport requires special skills and different types of fitness. Our research aims to study athletes from all types of sport to better understand how and why these injuries occur and to figure out how to maximize performance while reducing their risk of injury.
Students who are part of Oklahoma's ROTC programs in college are training for exciting careers in the U.S. military. One common hurdle they face is the risk of injury during intense exercise blocks, such as basic training. The Department of Defense pays nearly $100 million annually treating military personnel for musculoskeletal injuries, and we are researching new ways to reduce this risk while allowing service members to perform their best.
Regardless of the activity, fatigue is a major determinant in how a person will perform in the gym, during a competition or for their physically demanding career. This makes it important to understand what is causing the fatigue at the neuromuscular level. Our team works to measure, examine and elucidate the mechanisms that contribute to fatigue to increase movement sustainability.
Patients who turn to bariatric weight loss surgery often lose large amounts of body mass, drastically reducing their risk for cardio-metabolic diseases, but this can come at a cost to the musculoskeletal system. Research suggests that muscle and bone loss can accompany the procedure and result in new clinical diagnoses, such as osteoporosis. Our group is investigating ways to protect the bone and muscle during the initial 12 months of weight loss. The ultimate goal is helping patients take their lives back by losing fat while also protecting their bones and muscles.