Dr. Francis O’Connor – 2014 Blyth Lecture Speaker

fran o'connorThis year’s Blyth Lecture speaker is Francis G. O’Connor, MD, MPH.  Dr. O’Connor is currently the Professor and Chair of the Department of Military and Emergency Medicine at the Uniformed Services University and Associate Director for the Consortium on Health and Military Performance (CHAMP).  He has been on the board of several leading organizations in sports medicine including the American College of Sports Medicine, and the American Medical Athletic Association; he is a past president of the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine. A Colonel in the United States Army, Dr. O’Connor is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

military sports medThis year’s topic is “Exertional Rhabdomyolysis: Current Concepts and Controversies.”  Exertional Rhabdomyolysis is a common disorder encountered in the military and athletic setting.  This disorder can be precipitated by a number of factors, but is frequently associated with unaccustomed levels of exertional stress or as a complication of dehydration and/or exertional heat illness, in particular, heat stroke. ER has recently been the focus of controversy in a number of related areas.  This presentation will discuss the basic definition of ER, as well as the relationship of ER with dietary supplements, extreme exercise programs, and sickle cell trait.  The focus of the talk will be to identify where there is consensus, and where there is considerable opportunity for future collaborative study.

The Department of Exercise and Sport Science has a long history of conducting research that has focused on discovering solutions to conserve the fighting strength of the United States military forces.  During the 1990’s, Dr. Hackney helped the military and the National Academies of Science develop training and dietary recommendations based on his funded research investigating “stress responses in military personnel during high altitude exposure in the extreme-environments”, and “hormonal stress reactivity in military personnel during basic training.”

Over the past 10 years, Dr. Padua has worked with Dr. Stephen Marshall (Epidemiology, School of Public Health; Injury Prevention Research Center) to identify risk factors for lower extremity musculoskeletal injuries and develop injury prevention strategies in the United States military academies.  This work began as a prospective cohort study, where we assessed the biomechanics, strength, postural alignment, injury history, and physical activity levels of incoming freshmen at the United States Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, and Military Academy.  We then followed these individuals to see who went on to sustain an ACL injury, patello-femoral pain, or stress fracture.  This information allowed us to identify risk factors for these injuries.  Over the past 4 years we have implemented an injury prevention exercise program at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to determine if lower extremity injuries could be reduced.

Most recently, Drs. Mihalik and Guskiewicz have started a clinical partnership with members of the US Army Special Forces community in 2011. Since this time, groups of special forces operators have visited the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center to complete a comprehensive and robust pre-deployment baseline program. This program includes neurocognitive testing (performed at Fort Bragg), postural stability/balance testing, visual and sensory performance testing, analysis of blood biomarkers, and advanced neuroimaging. When soldiers are injured during training or deployment, they matriculate through the Matthew Gfeller Center for additional testing. These clinical data are provided to the special forces medical personnel to inform appropriate referrals and return-to-duty recommendations for these elite special forces operators. Given the uniqueness of this work, the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency (DARPA) has partnered with the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) to fund Dr. Mihalik and his team to more extensively study the clinical data to further enhance the interrelationships of these clinical metrics in the military medicine landscape, and to correlate these clinical findings to measured blast exposures sustained by military personnel. This funded initiative involves EXSS collaborators in the Injury Prevention Research Center, Department of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health, and the Department of Radiology in the School of Medicine.

We are proud of the research done by EXSS faculty and students to support the readiness of our military personnel and compliment the work of individual’s like Dr. Francis O’Connor.  We invite you to join us at this year’s Blyth Lecture to learn more about how exercise and sport science related research plays a critical role in maintaining the United States fighting strength.  The Blyth Lecture will be held on Wednesday April 16 at 12:30pm in Fetzer 109.  As part of the Blyth Lecture, we will also introduce this year’s winner of the Ronald Hyatt Scholarship, which honors one of our outstanding undergraduate students.  We look forward to seeing you at this great event.


One thought on “Dr. Francis O’Connor – 2014 Blyth Lecture Speaker

  1. Pingback: The Department of Exercise and Sport Science – Save the Date: Wednesday April 16 at 12:30pm – 2014 Blyth Lecture in EXSS (Fetzer 109)

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