A new biomechanics laboratory opening this May in Bend will provide cutting-edge research and intervention strategies for injuries – especially knees, ankles and hips – creating a perfect match with Central Oregon’s population of elite and recreational athletes.
The Functional Orthopedic Research Center of Excellence, or FORCE Laboratory, is led by researchers at Oregon State University-Cascades, in partnership with Therapeutic Associates-Bend Physical Therapy and The Center Orthopedic & Neurological Care & Research and The Center Foundation.
It is one of the few such partnerships of its kind in the country, organizers say.
“What makes this lab unique is that it is a partnership between a university, orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians and physical therapists,” said Christine Pollard, an associate professor of exercise and sport science at OSU-Cascades, and director of the FORCE Lab. “The best place to do research is in a clinical setting with a multi-disciplinary team, which we will have.
“Most cutting edge biomechanics labs are located on a university campus – not in a clinical setting,” she added. “The potential for clinically applied research is tremendous.”
Pollard said research at the FORCE Lab will include analyzing and creating effective injury prevention strategies and rehabilitation practices; and improving the efficiency and performance of human movement. One planned research project, for example, is to assess potential differences in the recovery and performance of patients with reconstructed anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs), comparing allografts from cadavers with those from patients’ own bodies – usually their hamstring or patellar tendons.
Other areas of research will range from examining recovery from complex injuries to metabolic testing of running and movement efficiency related to biomechanics. FORCE Lab partners already are in discussions with footwear companies about collaborative research.
“Central Oregon has a highly active population of ages across the lifespan,” Pollard said. “Because of that activity, they have acute injuries from skiing or climbing, as well as repetitive injuries from long-term running or cycling. That is one reason Bend is such an ideal location for this kind of collaborative research laboratory.”
The lab will offer sports performance analysis, medical intervention and injury prevention and rehabilitation guidance in addition to its research mission. The lab has a suite of sophisticated equipment, including an eight-camera motion analysis system, two “force plates,” a treadmill with a metabolic cart, ultrasound equipment, and video cameras.
OSU-Cascades students will have an opportunity to participate in lab activities, Pollard noted, creating a rich environment for experiential learning.
“In addition to helping conduct state-of-the-art research, our students will get to work with orthopedists, sports medicine doctors, physical therapists, athletic trainers and others,” she pointed out.
Other opportunities will emerge as the FORCE Lab grows over time, she said.
“A number of our studies will be driven by physician interest,” Pollard said. “We’ve already been asked to participate in a study on concussions that involves Oregon Health & Sciences University and the University of Oregon, as well as local schools and their athletic trainers.
“The future is very, very bright.”
More information at FORCE Laboratory