LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 14, 2017) — The University of Kentucky today opened its Sports Medicine Research Institute (SMRI), a 10,000-square-foot facility that is part of the UK Nutter Training Facility. Research will be conducted into injury prevention and performance optimization for professional and collegiate athletes, the tactical athletes of the U.S. military and physically active people of all ages.
SMRI is outfitted with equipment to assess biomechanical, physiological, musculoskeletal and neurocognitive health and is supported by a team of eight core faculty, staff, and research assistants and 40 affiliate faculty. In addition to its Lexington location, SMRI operates a facility in Camp Lejeune, N.C., where its team works directly with the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command.
A biomechanics laboratory conducts motion analysis studies using 14 cameras and a dual force plate system in the floor, like the technology used to make video games and animated movies. Equipment shaped like a horse simulates realistic movement for jockeys and other equestrians.
There is also a neurocognitive lab that uses virtual reality to assess visual acuity, reaction times, and balance, which are critical measurements for concussion recovery.
Other equipment is designed to measure oxygen consumption, workload and metabolic costs, physiological stress and the influence of sleep deprivation/fatigue, all of which are important contributors to musculoskeletal strength, endurance, operational performance, and injury risk.
Dr. Scott Lephart, dean of the UK College of Health Sciences and founder of the SMRI, leads the $4.2 million Department of Defense grant that helped launch the SMRI. He said that the military can adapt from lessons learned in athletics and vice-versa.
“The elite warriors of the U.S. military are expected to be at peak performance in extremely dangerous and unpredictable situations, and there’s no room – either financially or personally – for them to sustain a preventable injury,” said Lephart, who is also UK Endowed Chair of Orthopaedic Research. “Our research with athletes both military and civilian is mutually beneficial, and it will result in strategies for injury prevention and performance for every walk of life.”
University of Kentucky Provost Tim Tracy said the program provides educational experiences for undergraduate and graduate students.