Findings of Expert Panel on musculoskeletal injuries
At a three-day meeting, supported by the IOC Medical Commission, ways to reduce the burden of musculoskeletal injuries were discussed by a group of experts composed of IOC member and Chairman of the IOC Medical Commission Professor Arne Ljungqvist, clinicians and scientists. These injuries can be career-threatening in elite athletes, and they affect many people who are physically active. They are also a cause of many work-related repetitive-use injuries. The emphasis of the meeting was to discuss current knowledge and recommend future research directions.
In a consensus statement aimed at exploring novel approaches to the prevention and management of musculoskeletal injuries, the group agreed on the following findings:
- Changes that occur in a tendon during training and competition (loading) are complex and poorly understood.
- The interaction between individual athletes and the mechanical environment to which they are exposed will determine whether the tendon will adapt or become injured.
- The exact cause of the transition between normal adaptation and damage is not yet clear, and this requires further research.
- Closer collaboration between clinical and basic science investigators to advance this area is encouraged.
Research has begun to focus on using biological approaches, such as growth factors and adult stem cell-based approaches, in the management of musculoskeletal injuries. The implementation of new biological therapies based on the administration of growth factors and the manipulation of adult stem cells will first require an improved understanding of the genetic regulatory networks affected by these agents.
State-of-the-art techniques such as genomics and proteomics may well be used in the future to identify the risks of developing these injuries, with a view to their prevention and management. The IOC now has high-level scientific advisors to monitor new developments in this field, which will be made available in due course on the website of the IOC Medical Commission.