April 12, 2011

MAKING THEMSELVES USEFUL:

New perceptions of shoulder injuries (Kay Lazar, April 12, 2011, Boston Globe)

Using a computer-controlled cadaver to simulate a pitcher on the mound, Boston researchers are gaining insights into the causes of baseball shoulder problems — which derail more major leaguers than just about any other injury.

In the study, the reanimated bodies duplicate the throwing motions of actual pitchers, but the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center scientists say their findings reach beyond professional baseball and may help countless weekend warriors, as well as high school and college athletes, recover from similar injuries or prevent them altogether.

Working in the shadow of Fenway Park, and with a grant from Major League Baseball, the researchers have found a common denominator that, they say, is a likely culprit in some of the most common shoulder injuries among pitchers — a misaligned scapula, better known as the shoulder blade.

“When pitchers experience a ‘dead arm,’ unable to achieve the velocity, the scapula malposition is a major cause of this,’’ said Dr. Arun Ramappa, a co-leader of the research team and the chief of sports medicine and shoulder surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess.

While other scientists have traced various shoulder problems to an out-of-whack scapula, the Beth Israel Deaconess team is believed to be the first to demonstrate, down to the muscle and bone level, precisely how the injuries occur through the use of mechanized cadavers. That, Ramappa said, will help them better understand which treatments, including surgery and physical therapy, are most effective at restoring shoulder mobility.


Posted by at April 12, 2011 6:02 AM
  

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