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Coach K Laboratory Hosts First Annual Conference on the Latest in Sports Injury Prevention

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. -- When Duke University men's basketball coach Michael Krzyzewski inaugurated the new sports laboratory that bears his name last summer, he challenged researchers and physicians to find new ways to reduce sports injuries and to improve athletic performance.

Krzyzewski's dream of making a positive impact on athletes of all ages and talents will become a step closer to reality when the first annual sports medicine symposium is held by the Michael W. Krzyzewski Human Performance Laboratory at Duke.

More than 100 coaches and trainers will learn about findings from the past year of Duke research in sports injury prevention and performance enhancement. The attendees are from junior and senior high schools and colleges in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia.

The one-day session begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 10, at the Bryan Center on the university's West Campus . The session ends with a tour of what is commonly known now as the K Lab, located in the Finch-Yeager Building.

"This is a great day for Duke, sports medicine and all the athletes who will benefit from this kind of research," Krzyzewski said of the upcoming symposium. "I am proud to be associated with a group of creative and hard-working people who are committed to helping athletes of all kinds, from the elite athlete to the children. That the lab is operating at such a high level is a tribute to their dedication."

Topics to be covered include differences in injuries between male and female athletes, the female athlete triad (three health issues associated with competitive athletics), teenage soccer injuries, the mechanisms of knee injuries, performance enhancing substances, nutrition and sports psychology.

"One of the main missions of the K Lab is to get the information and results of our research into the hands of those who can really make a difference - coaches, trainers and physical therapists," said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Speer, director of the Duke Sport Medicine Center. "Mike Krzyzewski wanted a laboratory that would have immediate impact in helping athletes prevent injuries and improve performance.

"Each of the presenters will provide brand new information that trainers and coaches can take back to their schools the next day to help their athletes," Speer continued. "There is nothing like this program in the country."

One of the presentations involves Duke research into tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which provides stability and strength to the knee. It is one of the most common injuries among competitive athletes.

It has been long known that female athletes have a significantly higher incidence of ACL tears than their male counterparts. According to Speer, conventional wisdom dictated that since females aren't as strong as males, they needed to spend more time strengthening their leg muscles to prevent ACL tears.

"However, in the past year, our studies of female soccer and basketball players has shown that improving balance and body control may be more important than strength training," Speer explained. "So instead of spending so much time in the weight room, it appears that females should spend more time doing specialized balance and body control exercises."

Speer added that this approach could also help reduce the incidence of ACL tears in male athletes.

In the area of performance enhancement, Duke specialists will also talk about the latest research into such controversial dietary supplements as creatine and androstenedione, which some high-profile athletes believe boosts their performance.

"These substances are legal and can be purchased in any health food store, and while we do not take a stand on the appropriateness of their use, it is essential that coaches and trainers have all the information available to them," Speer said. "Coaches and trainers are role models and are in a unique position to help kids. If they have nothing to say or have wrong information, they are not fulfilling their roles as educators."

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