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Wisconsin Youth Adolescent Fitness and Sports Health Study

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Stephany Pittz

July 28 2011

11 minutes



Mentor: Timothy McGuine Ph.D., A.T.C.

Department: Orthopedics and Rehabilitation – Sports Medicine Program

Background:  The physical, emotional and psycho-social benefits of sport participation in youth and adolescent populations are well established.  Studies have shown throughout the years that the participation of adolescents within sport activities is declining. Nationwide, an estimated 38 million youth (age 6-12) take part in agency, club or community sponsored sport activities, but this number declines dramatically to 7 million adolescent (age 14-18) participants in secondary school sponsored activities.

Physical complications, lack of sport participation opportunities and the idea that athletes are over-exposed to one sport have all been theories used to explain this decline. Past studies have been shown to not allow for comparison to Wisconsin adolescents, thus, bringing forth the need for a study to identify the physical, psychosocial, and socio-economic factors that lead to discontinued sport participation in Wisconsin youth and adolescents.

Hypothesis: Adolescent sport participation in Wisconsin is influenced by identifiable physical, family, psycho-social, and socio-economic factors and is connected to measurable health outcomes, specifically level of physical activity, sport-related injury, and health related quality of life.

Methods:  We formulated a database of Dane County schools in which we will identify and recruit a group of Wisconsin elementary school students (Grade 6). We will measure a number of variables that are thought to influence sport participation in adolescents. Physical, physiological and biochemical components will be obtained and measured, as well as health related quality of life and level of activity measurements for each subject. 

The physical measurements will include BMI, joint laxity, upper and lower body strength, balance and neuromuscular coordination, lower extremity dynamic alignment and flexibility. All physical testing will take place within the subject’s respective school.

Injury assessment will be collected through the use of self-report questionnaires. Type and severity of an injury could influence their participation in sports.

To determine what level of community and school sport programming is available to the subject we will research schools, religious entities, community clubs and athletic associations within their enabling districts.

By using a specific methodology when collecting data we will be able to establish baseline physical values, economic and educational variables and type of sport programming available to the subjects. We will then determine if variations exist between subjects based on demographic factors and patterns of sport participation.

Results: This study is in its beginning stages and has yet to produce data.

Conclusion:  My work within this study has been to create databases that identified schools within Dane county whereby subjects could be recruited. I formulated drafts of consent and assent forms for the subjects and their parents, and drafted letters to send out to superintendents acquiring permission for school district participation. 


Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Health (RUSCH) Summer Research Program


Pediatrics, Rural Health, Sports Medicine
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