Will J. McGarty
This year we welcome one of our very own into the Hall of Fame. It is not the basketball, baseball, or any other team sport’s hall, but instead one that works with and directly affects the athletes who compete to reach these heights. This year, we welcome UNCG’s own, Dr. Sandra Shultz, into the National Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame.
This is a ceremony Sandra knows all too well, as she attends the banquet every year. She spoke of how great an honor it is to be recognized across the country of her accomplishments and contributions to sports science. Dr. Shultz discussed her reaction to being elected.
“It was a great honor. Ever since I started this profession, I have attended the Hall of Fame ceremonies,” she said. “It is a very special event and people who have accomplished great things in this profession and to be inducted with them is an honor.”
Here at UNCG, Dr. Shultz is both a professor and the department chair of kinesiology. Before making the trip across the country to Greensboro, Dr. Shultz was a Clinician at the University of California, Los Angeles. During her twelfth year tenure at UCLA, Dr. Shultz mainly worked as an athletic trainer. She spent her days in the clinic working to rehabilitate the school’s collegiate and recreational athletes as well as instructing others about preventative maintenance and treatment. After working with many athletes with various injuries, she noticed how common the ACL injury was, regardless of sport. It was this injury that she decided to dedicate her ongoing research towards.
ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament and is one of a pair of cruciate ligaments in the knee. The ACL’s main function is to help stabilize the knee and is usually injured as a result of landing or planting when attempting to pivot or cut. The University of California, San Francisco reports that there are more than 200,000 ACL injuries annually with 70 percent of them occurring while playing agility sports. Sports such as basketball, soccer, skiing and football are reported to be the main hosts to these injuries.
Some of the worst things about this injury deal with the longevity of recovery as well as how the injury is sustained. For most athletes, rehabilitating after an ACL tear takes between eight to 12 months away from the sport — crucial time in the life of an aspiring athlete. Fortunately, UCSF reports a 90 percent success rate for patients in terms of knee stability, patient satisfaction and their return to full activity. Another problem in regards to this injury is how it is usually sustained. UCSF estimates that 70 percent of ACL injuries happen during non-contact events. An athlete could be decelerating, stopping, twisting, cutting or jumping and sustain a tear in the ligament. This problem makes preventative treatment that much more important, as it could be the determinant for the future of an athlete’s career.
After becoming knowledgeable and efficient at rehabbing athletes with ACL injuries through her clinical work at UCLA, Dr. Shultz shifted her focus onto what she could do to prevent them. She has since devoted her study towards understanding ACL injuries in women and learning what makes athletes more or less susceptible of sustaining these injuries.
In her research, Dr. Shultz has found that joint laxity plays a key role in sustaining these injuries. With this information, joint laxity has now become her main focus. By definition, joint laxity or “ligamentous laxity” describes joints that are loose. These joints are what restrict the body to “normal” ranges of motion. Dr. Shultz now spends time studying what impact joint laxity has on how the human body moves as well as researching what genetic, hormonal or anatomical connections there are in conjunction with joint laxity that precipitate higher risks for athletes.