Health practitioners and scientists at a new UP institute will focus on five high-impact research areas in the field of Sport, Exercise Medicine and Lifestyle Research.
“At the moment, theUniversity of Pretoria is strong in research about sports injuries, and illness and medical complications. We would like to grow the focus on noncommunicable diseases and how to get people more physically active. I will be working mainly in this area,” says Dr Jill Borresen, COO of the institute.
The first of these themes is the prevention, management and rehabilitation of patients with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) of lifestyle through patient-centred, comprehensive, lifestyle interventions. These interventions can include promoting physical activity to patients and encouraging them to participate in recreational sport.
For a second theme, the institute will focus on preventing musculoskeletal and other injuries in sports through non-surgical management and rehabilitation. This focus will include all physically active individuals participating in recreational sports. At the University of Pretoria, there are researchers with a proven track record of research and clinical work in this area of research.
The institute will use the strengths of its existing infrastructure and staff to develop a strong research programme to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal and other injuries during exercise.
Thirdly, the institute will research the broader context of sport and promotion of physical activity in society. These societal issues include ethics (e.g. doping in sport), legal (e.g. professional sport contracts, drugs in sport, risk of injuries and medical complications), sport management and economics (sport sponsorships), and education (promoting physical activity in schools and the broader community).
Researchers in the Faculties ofLaw,Education,Economics, and theGordon Institute of Business Science are already active in these areas. Prof Schwellnus is already hard at work forging collaborations between these UP groups and other external, and international groups through the institute.
The fourth theme will focus on preventing and managing medical complications and illness in sports. Under this theme, Professor Schwellnus has implemeneted a screening and education programme at major sports events such as theTwo Oceans Marathon and theCape Town Cycle Tour.
“We are talking to organisers of other mass participation events as well, to see whether we can administer the screening programme there,” says Professor Schwellnus. “This will help us predict if there will be a health-related issue on the day of the race based on the risk factors.”
Finally, the institute will aim to enhance sports excellence in sports performance at the University of Pretoria. Not only is the University of Pretoria renowned for producing world-class athletes, it is also well recognised for its successful sporting club infrastructure.
The Institute for Sport, Exercise Medicine and Lifestyle Research (ISEMLR) will capitalise on the strengths of UP’s sporting culture and success to become a national and global leader in researching the elements that constitute sporting success.
Professor Schwellnus of the ISEMLR hopes to collect data at mass sporting events to improve sports performance and limit medical complications at these events.