Rehabilitation Medicine-Physical Therapy
University of Alberta
Summary of research:
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are among the most common and functionally disabling conditions in orthopaedics and sports medicine. It is estimated that 250,000 ACL injuries occur each year in Canada and in the United States. Over the past 20 years, the fastest-rising demographic to undergo ACL reconstruction has been females younger than 20 years of age, especially high school–aged female athletes. It is significant to note that females are at greater risk than males of sustaining a second ACL injury. Research Focus One: Clearing an athlete for returning to play is one of the most challenging and complex decisions an orthopaedic surgeon must make A number of factors, including the stage of tissue healing as well as mental status, should be considered before making such a decision. An improper or incomplete rehabilitation program may increase the risk of re-injury and delay return to play. It can lead to chronic pain and disability and, in turn, to a cycle of increasing physical and mental multimorbidity. My research program aims to explore the relationship between athletes’ adherence to a standard rehabilitation program following ACL reconstruction and the rate of the return to play. Research Focus One: ACL injuries often associated with post-traumatic osteoarthritis, which could lead to middle-term and long-term problems for the patient, a potential increase in knee surgery in the future and thus a significant cost to society. In this context, appropriate treatment of ACL injury, as well as early diagnosis of cartilage changes, could minimise the risk of early knee osteoarthritis. Current imaging biomarkers are unable to capture early changes in the cartilage. My earlier works in the lumbar intervertebral discs and knee cartilage texture analysis has led to developing very sensitive MR imaging biomarkers that are able to capture small changes in the cartilage fluid content. Thus, my research program aims to develop novel MR imaging biomarkers for the early diagnosis of the knee cartilage changes following anterior cruciate ligament injury using texture-based image processing algorithms.