UF Health MedMatters

UF Health Physician Presents Study Findings to International Olympic Committee World Conference

Baseball is one of the most popular sports among children, with nearly 3 million adolescent and high school-aged players in the United States. Shoulder and elbow injuries, most common in pitchers but also common in other players, afflict tens of thousands of players every year.

In November 2021, Jason Zaremski, MD, the co-medical director of the University of Florida Adolescent and High School Sports Medicine Outreach Program, was invited to speak at the prestigious International Olympic Committee’s World Conference on Prevention of Injury & Illness in Sport in Monaco.Dr. Jason Zaremski

“In 2018 we were awarded a three-year grant through the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation’s Prevention of Musculoskeletal Youth Sports Injuries,” said Zaremski, who serves as an associate professor in the UF Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with a joint appointment in the UF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. “Our study is focusing on the development of a protocol to evaluate high school baseball pitchers’ workloads more accurately to help prevent future injury. Although baseball isn’t played worldwide, the focus of this study has practical applications for athletes of other popular national and international sports, including tennis, badminton, javelin, handball and swimming.”

Attendees at the conference range from researchers and medical doctors from around the world in sports medicine, sports performance, cardiology, exercise physiology and preventive medicine, as well as some Olympic and Paralympic team physicians, athletic trainers and exercise physiologists.

“When we talk about workload with athletes, the majority of the studies have focused on the lower extremities, such as the hip, knees and ankles in soccer players and runners,” Zaremski said. “Our study is looking at injuries that occur with the throwing athlete in their elbow, wrist and shoulder. We built upon a study we published in 2017 that looked at the total game day pitch count. This current study incorporates the total pitch count and includes intensity of the pitch (including velocity) and throwing-related injury.”

Key takeaways from Zaremski’s presentation to the International Olympic Committee included:

  • First study of its kind to determine volume of pitches thrown off a mound on a game day in 2017
  • Provide a springboard for novel off-season and in-season training recommendations for high school-aged pitchers
  • Recommendations should be based on actual workload volume
  • Warmups should be pitched at a submaximal level to avoid stress on the pitching arm

The current study should be completed after the 2022 season. Factors that this study will include are:

  • Combining intensity (velocity) with pitch count volume
  • Development of a protocol to evaluate a throwing athlete’s workload
  • Workload monitoring (true volume of pitches thrown) using protocols may lead to prevention of overuse injuries

“Comprising two of years of significant practical data (with one more to go), this study has real-world implications and applications for throwing athletes and can help improve the training of these athletes and subsequently the prevention and treatment of injury,” Zaremski said.

About UF Health Shands Hospital

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University of Florida Health Shands Hospital has been recognized among the nation’s best hospitals in seven adult medical specialties. Overall, UF Health Shands Hospital was recognized as one of the best hospitals in Florida. In addition to being ranked among the nation’s top 50 hospitals in seven specialties, UF Health Shands Hospital also was listed as “high performing” in seven specialties, including abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, colon cancer surgery, COPD, heart failure, lung cancer surgery, neurology & neurosurgery and orthopaedics.