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New study looks at biomarkers in assessing pitch count's bearing on injury
Date:2/26/2014

ERIE, Pa. - In baseball lingo, pitch count is the number of pitches thrown by a pitcher during a game.

The correlation between pitch count and throwing arm injuries has been a hot-button issue in baseball for years and now is the focus of a pioneering study by the Mercyhurst University Department of Sports Medicine, UPMC Hamot and Shriners Hospitals for Children - Erie. The shared-resources collaboration is funded in part by a grant from the Lake Erie Consortium for Osteopathic Medical Training.

Often a starting pitcher will be removed from the game after 100 pitches, which is reckoned to be the maximum optimal pitch count for a starting pitcher. But is 100 an arbitrary benchmark?

"It's driven by injury statistics," said project partner Tim Cooney, manager of basic science research at UPMC Hamot. "But is that a good threshold? Is it universal for every pitcher? Should it be higher, lower?"

Studies have tried to address the questions, but most have looked at the way pitchers throw and how the motion changes with repetition as predictive of fatigue.

The new research project will look at motion, but it will also measure shoulder muscle power and, for what Cooney believes is a first, biomarkers. Biomarkers (short for biological markers) are used widely in medicine to predict serious illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Could they predict joint stress in a pitching arm?

Data collection will be held at the Mercyhurst Rec Center and the adjoining Janet Price Human Performance Research Lab on Mondays, Feb. 17 & 24, said project partner Bradley Jacobson, A.T.C., chair of the Mercyhurst Sports Medicine Department. Twelve student-athletes from the Mercyhurst University Lakers and North East Saints baseball teams will serve as test subjects.

Using high-speed motion-capture cameras to track individuals' movements as they throw, the biomechanical analysis will be conducted by the Shriners Hospital
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Contact: Debbie Morton
dmorton@mercyhurst.edu
814-824-2552
Mercyhurst College
Source:Eurekalert

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