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Neuromuscular Research Laboratory
Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Current News


Dr. Scott Lephart Promoted to Distinguished Professor

Scott M. Lephart, PhD was recently appointed as Distinguished Professor in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Lephart serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition and Director of the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory and the Warrior Human Performance Research Center. He also holds a secondary Professor appointment in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Distinguished professorship constitutes the highest honor a member of the professorate can receive at the University of Pittsburgh. The rank of Distinguished Service Professor recognizes distinctive contributions and outstanding service to the University community in support of its multi-faceted teaching/research/service mission, as well as performance excellence in the faculty member's department or school, and national/international stature in his or her discipline or field.
Dr. Lephart’s distinguished career has contributed significantly to the University of Pittsburgh’s mission of excellence in education, service, and research.  

Shortly after beginning his career at the University of Pittsburgh in 1987, Lephart developed the Graduate Studies in Sports Medicine program and clinical collaborations within the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, and across the region. In 1999, he received the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Most Distinguished Educator Award, thehighest honor for education and mentoring. He also successfully led the merger of the Sports Medicine and Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition programs in 2000 to create the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition and since that time has served as the Department Chair.
Most notable is Dr. Lephart’s research efforts. His research has helped both scientists and clinicians understand and apply concepts for prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injury. In 1990, Lephart and his colleague, Dr. Freddie H. Fu, Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, founded the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory (NMRL) with the mission to study the neuromuscular and biomechanical aspects of sports injuries. Lephart’s early research led to his global recognition as a scientific leader in the area of proprioception and neuromuscular control of joint stability. “After 20 years of collaboration, this well-deserved appointment demonstrates Dr. Lephart’s significant contribution to the Sports Medicine, Orthopaedic, and military communities. I look forward to our future work”, says Fu.   

For the past decade, the NMRL’s research has focused on the unique injury mitigation and performance optimization needs of our military’s elite. The first initiative began with the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. At the completion of the project in early 2013, more than 3000 Soldiers participated in the study and the development of the Eagle Tactical Athlete Program (ETAP). ETAP replaced US Army training doctrine with the Division at Fort Campbell as the implemented physical training program for more than 25,000 Soldiers. As part of this work , the NMRL was awarded the prestigious The Amsus Sir Henry Wellcome Medal and Prize by the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States for the Most Exemplary Published Research in 2012 for the paper titled “Less Body Fat Improves Physical and Physiological Performance in Army Soldiers.”

Expanding upon the initial research with the 101st Soldiers, the NMRL developed a model to study the tactically-specific injury prevention and human performance needs of Special Operations Forces (SOF). To date research with individual SOF commands (Naval Special Warfare (3 sites), US Army Special Operations Command), has demonstrated several critical findings to injury prevention and physical readiness, and resulted in significant performance improvements. Glenn Mercer, MCPO, USN (ret), former director of human performance at US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), recognized these accomplishments “…efforts in support of the Department of Defense Human Performance thesis has significantly enhanced the combat capability of this nation’s front line combatants. His astute guidance and integration of NMRL research teams has had a persistent and enduring effect on the United States Special Operations Enterprise. In a very short term he has provided the USSOCOM Command Teams with an objective lens to assess, analyze and scientifically measure the physical resilience and core capabilities of high value human capital.”     

The NMRL was recently selected as the scientific mission partner related to human performance research of USSOCOM. With six Warrior Human Performance Research laboratories located at respective installations (Air Force Special Operations Command opened July 2013, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command to open 2014), the University of Pittsburgh is positioned to measure the effectiveness of USSOCOM’s Preservation of the Force and Families (POTFF) and contribute significantly to the direction of human performance. POTFF was developed to focus on the well-being and resilience of the SOF and their families. CAPT Thomas Chaby, Director, Preserving the Force and Families Task Force (POTFF) stated “…are directly improving Special Operations battlefield readiness.  Through his meticulous assessment and analysis, Dr. Lephart has pinpointed key data that are helping Special Operations Human Performance leadership design programs that are reducing injuries and developing overall strength and resilience”.      

Lephart’s work with the military has gained him international recognition. He delivered a Keynote Lecture to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and served as a consultant to the Norwegian Defense University and Norwegian Naval Special Forces. Dr. Lephart’s current research will have a tremendous impact on preparing our warriors for the physical demands of protecting and serving our country, lengthening their service contribution, and improving quality of life outlook after service.

Faculty Member Presents at Noraxon Symposium

On November 9th and 10th, 2012 Noraxon USA Inc. hosted their annual fall research symposium. The focus of this annual meeting is the current studies in EMG, gait and kinesiological application. During this symposium leaders in academia are invited to present the wide range and successful use of kinesiological EMG, integrated 2D video, force distribution measurement and other kinesiological applications with research. In addition to lectures and presentations hands-on laboratory demonstrations are also a key element to this meeting.

Dr. Timothy Sell from the University of Pittsburgh and the NMRL was invited to present on "EMG in functional Joint Stability and Injury prevention." In this presentation Dr. Sell discusses the uses and application of EMG the NMRL has successfully implemented into its research.

Dr. Beals (Crawford) Receives Sir Henry Wellcome Medal & Prize from AMSUS

Dr. Beals (Crawford) of the University of Pittsburgh's Neuromuscular Research Laboratory and UPitt Warrior Human Performance Center will be awarded the Henry Wellcome Medal and Prize on November 14th, 2012 for her publication in the journal of Military Medicine "Less Body Fat Improves Physical and Physiological Performance in Army Soldiers".

The Journal of Military Medicine is the official monthly journal of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. Each year an author of an article published in the journal or other peer reviewed professional journal during the previous year is selected for the award. This award was developed to encourage all federal healthcare personnel to take an active role in biomedical research and development. Dr. Beals (Crawford) has been selected to receive this award because of her outstanding scholarly contribution to current military medicine research through her published work.

UPitt Warrior Human Performance Research Center Expands with Air Force

The NMRL and UPitt Warrior Human Performance Research Center has recently received a grant to work with the United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) based out of the Hurlburt Field, FL. The Principal Investigator for this project is Timothy C. Sell and the project will focus on the prevention of unintentional injury and performance optimization of AFSOC Operators.

The specific group that the UPitt-WHPRC will be working with is the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron. This unit trains, equips, and employs combat control, pararescue, and support personnel and its primary task is to integrate, synchronize, and/or control the elements of air and space power in the objective area. This specialized unit is able to perform various tasks that include austere airfield control, terminal attack control, personnel rescue and recovery, assault zone assessment, battlefield trauma care, direct action, and special reconnaissance. The NMRL and UPitt-WHPRC is honored and excited to begin working with this group.

Dr. Lephart Delivers Keynote in Sicily, Italy at International Sports Medicine Meeting

The tenth edition on the Congress Kinecenter was held on Saturday, May 12th, 2012. The topic surrounding this year's international sports medicine meeting was proprioceptive exercise and neuromuscular control in joint stability. Based on his extensive work in this field, Dr. Scott M. Lephart of the University of Pittsburgh's Neuromuscular Research Laboratory was invited to deliver the meeting's Keynote lecture.

This meeting was focused on the dissemination of knowledge and information pertaining to the use of proprioceptive exercises and how they relate to neuromuscular control, joint stability, and the treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal injuries. The Chairman of Kinecenter, Dr. Gianfranco Lisitano, put together an extensive line up of speakers and workshops bringing together a great variety of techniques and concepts related to this topic.

Congress Program

Congress Video


NMRL Research Spotlighted in the Summer 2012 FACETS Magazine

FACETS is the official magazine of the University of Pittsburgh's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. In this Spring / Summer 2012 issue the NMRL is featured for its international related research with the Norwegian National Defense Institute and the University of Florence, Italy, and its Department of Defense projects.

"The exchange of creative ideas"

On page 16 FACETS describes the recent collaborative effort of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Florence with the Firenze Rugby 1931 Club. This article also discusses how the Norwegian National Defense Institute has reached out the University of Pittsburgh's NMRL for assistance with developing a similar research model to help decrease musculoskeletal injuries in the Norwegian Navy Special Operations operators.

"On the front line of change"

Beginning on page 18, another article describes the recent advancements the NMRL's UPitt Warrior Human Performance Research Center has made with the U.S. Department of Defense. Highlights include remote laboratory expansions with Naval Special Warfare Command (NSW-C) and the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) and a collaboration effort with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Read the Article (3.2 MB)

SEALs Ethos Magazine Features UPitt-NSW Research With Opening of Coronado Lab

Ethos is the official magazine of the Naval Special Warfare Command Public Affairs Office and is focused on promoting the character, culture, and actions of Naval Special Warfare. The most recent issue (issue 16) features the opening of the UPitt Warrior Human Performance Research Laboratory at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, in San Diego, CA.

The article takes you through the general model of the UPitt-NSW research collaboration and discusses the importance of each research phase and the overall goal.

Read the Article (22.6 MB)

Dr. Sell Attended DARPA's Warrior Web Workshop

On Wednesday, February 15, 2012 a multi-disciplinary group made up of faculty members from across West Point Academy and representatives from the University of Pittsburgh (Dr. Sell), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) (Army and Air Force), the US Marine Corps, Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center (SRDEC). MEDCOM, KACH and industry took part in a full-day workshop in support of DARPA's WarriorWeb initiative.

Jointly sponsored by DARPA and West Point's Center for Innovation and Engineering (CIE), this meeting was the third of its kind seeking to update researchers on current research and development efforts, gain feedback from collaborators, and build new teams for nascent lines of inquiry. This meeting specifically focused on discussion regarding current technology efforts related to the DARPA WarriorWeb and Army Soldier Initiatives.

Presentations during this meeting included updates on the guidance from soldier Army leadership, historical perspectives on the issues of soldier load and its effect on physical and operational performance. The status of ongoing research efforts including cognitive load, use of social networks to better identify the linkage between all relevant aspects of the soldier load problem, use of energy harvesting systems to provide local power supplies, and effects of mechanical prosthetic systems to enhance soldier performance.

Continuation and Expansion of Naval Special Warfare Projects

Since 2007 the NMRL has been investigating musculoskeletal injuries and human performance in the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Group 2 in Little Creek, VA. Over the past year this effort has expanded to NSW Group 4, Special Boat Team-22, in Stennis, MS. These projects are focused on the development and refinement of the NSW’s Tactical Athlete Program in collaboration with their human performance, medical, and training personnel. In addition to the continuation of funding for the NSW Group 2 and Group 4 projects, the NMRL and NSW will begin a new research project with the Naval Special Warfare Center regarding Seal Qualification Training (SQT) and Crewman Qualification Training (CQT) at Coronado Naval Base in San Diego, CA.

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