Section Sports Medicine not only offers the academic-leg of the MSc Sports Medicine degree, but also involve students in research, with a suitable research project they need to complete and publish. A portion of our research includes projects in collaboration with the new Sport, Exercise Medicine and Lifestyle Institute (SEMLI) in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

The main areas of focus of our research are as follows:

  • Effects of exercise in athletes, the general population, as well as in patient groups
  • Practical involvement with teams, clinical application/setting
  • Females in sport
  • Quantification of autonomic nervous system activity during normal and stress responses (athletes, patients and animals)

Student projects that have recently been researched include athletes in extreme temperatures, medical illness during marathon events, injuries sustained during tournaments and ultra-endurance events e.g. the Ironman.

Sports Medicine MSc students that has graduated has presented their research at the following International Conference:

  • 5th International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport, in Berlin, Germany (27 - 28 October 2016)
  • ACSM's 63rd Annual Meeting, 7th World Congress on Exercise is Medicine & World Congress on the Basic Science of Energy Balance, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA (31 May - 4 June 2016)
  • ACSM's 64th Annual Meeting and 8th World Congress on Exercise is Medicine, in Denver, USA (30 May - 3 June 2017)
  • IOC World Conference on Prevention of Injury & Illness in Sport, held in Monaco (16 - 18 March 2017)

Research topics approved for presentation included the following:

  • The Amateur Cyclist Gearing Up Nutrition for a 94.7km Challenge
  • Does Physical Activity Levels in South African Children Compare to Recommended Levels set by International Standards?
  • The incidence, risk factors predicting injury and severity of injuries sustained during professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competition in Africa
  • Leisure cyclists at risk of medical complications: outcomes of online pre-participation screening among 22 650 endurance cyclists, using current European guidelines - SAFER Cycling
  • The injury and illness profile of 23055 Participants in a 94.7km cycle race: a cross sectional study
  • Incidence of acute traumatic injuries and medical complications in 34 033 cyclists participating in a mass community based event - SAFER cycling
  • An increasing incidence of injuries during the Super Rugby Tournament: A prospective study over 4 years involving 69 194 player-hours

Multidisciplinary research projects including MSc and PhD students from other Faculties and Departments are also welcomed. Recent research included:

  • Physiological responses in vehicle design
  • Heart rate variability in healthy adult mares during trans rectal palpation of the reproductive tract by veterinary students;
  • Repeatability and reliability of heart rate variability in healthy, adult pony mares

The University of Pretoria’s Section Sports Medicine is also preparing to launch a Specialist Unit for Female Athletes. While it is well established that exercise has numerous health benefits, in females it can also be a source of unique musculoskeletal and physiological challenges. One such example is the Female Athlete Triad, a condition characterized by energy imbalance, amenorrhea and osteoporosis in female athletes. The condition is sadly under diagnosed, with significant yet avoidable long-term sequelae for the female athlete. The Female Unit will be led by two experienced Sports Physicians - Professor Christa Janse Van Rensburg, an expert in her field of Rheumatology and also an ardent athlete herself, and Dr. Maki Ramagole, who has worked extensively with female athletes, adolescent athletes and national teams. The unit will forge partnerships with a number of specialists to create a multi-disciplinary team, well equipped to manage all female athlete specific matters. Amongst these specialists will be a dietician, psychologist, gynaecologist, endocrinologist, exercise physiologist and orthopaedic specialist.

Professor Janse Van Rensburg clarified, “The idea to start this unit was inspired by the consistent recurring problems we see among female athletes. We believe many of these problems can be prevented when our female athletes have access to a medical unit specifically focused on their unique needs. This is the first such unit to be established in South Africa and we hope that from it we will not only be able to provide exceptional clinical services to female athletes in Gauteng and nationwide, but also be able to produce research that will contribute to the advancement of women in sport internationally.”

Published by Madeleen Scheepers

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