• Making the best of the best better


    UK dean, researcher, works to prevent injuries among elite soldiers and athletes


    How can science protect those who protect us?

    Thanks to Dr. Scott Lephart, dean of the UK College of Health Sciences, UK HealthCare is leading the way toward finding out.

    Scott Lephart

    Scott Lephart, dean of the UK College of Health Sciences

    Lephart, a nationally recognized expert in sports medicine, came to UK in March 2015 and also serves as Endowed Chair of Orthopaedic Research.

    He has received a $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to support research on injury prevention and performance optimization in U.S. Special Forces such as special forces Marines and Navy SEALS.

    The award, the largest ever received by the College of Health Sciences, coincides with the establishment of the new UK Sports Medicine Research Institute (SMRI), which is scheduled to open on UK’s campus this fall. 


    Strategies for injury prevention and performance optimization, similar to those used with athletes, but adapted to the specialized needs of military personnel


    Researchers with the SMRI will conduct a variety of field studies focused on the physical demands on elite warriors. For example, institute researchers will identify common injury patterns among the soldiers and develop clinical trials to test training programs targeted at injury prevention.

    The institute will also help provide strategies on injury prevention, human performance, sports nutrition and overall wellness to recreational and competitive youth, high school, collegiate, professional and senior athletes, coaches, parents, and health-care providers.

    Musculoskeletal injuries are common during the demanding training the warriors undergo as well as during combat. The short- and long-term effects of such injuries include loss of active duty time, financial impacts and the adverse effects on the overall health of military personnel. The aim of the research is to develop strategies for injury prevention and performance optimization, similar to those used with athletes, but adapted to the specialized needs of military personnel.

    Motion capture

    The aim of the research is to develop strategies for injury prevention and performance optimization.

    These soldiers “are expected to be at peak performance in extremely dangerous and unpredictable situations," Lephart said. "There is absolutely no room for sustaining a preventable injury. That's why our work is so mission-critical for the Special Forces."

    Said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs: “The SMRI is dedicated to research excellence, community outreach and collaboration – all directed toward one outcome: optimal health through healthier lifestyles.”  


    Making significant strides in the way we diagnose, care for and prevent injuries


    We are “making significant strides in the way that we prevent injuries, in the way that we diagnose and care for and return not only our athletes in sports but the ability to exercise over the of the course of a life,"  said Lephart.

    And ultimately, that benefits all of us, here in Kentucky and beyond.

    Watch the video

    UK College of Health Sciences Dean Scott Lephart discusses new $4.2 million grant.