Our Research

Nationwide Children's Hospital's Sports and Orthopedic Physical Therapy department strives to provide the best possible care for your child. Our therapists are experienced in working with pediatric athletes and orthopedic rehabilitation, using the best evidence to improve recovery.

We are expanding our research program to continue providing the best care and become a leader in the field of pediatric sports and orthopedic rehabilitation. Our goal in performing clinical research is to advance knowledge, improve patient outcomes and decrease the impact of injury. Clinical research involves the scientific investigation of the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of pediatric sports and orthopedic injuries in our patients. We thank all patients and parents who participate in clinical research.

Patellofemoral pain is an injury that causes pain around your kneecap. This pain is a result of multiple factors including poor body mechanics, leg weakness, overuse, and lack of flexibility. A large amount of research shows that addressing each of these impairments improves patellofemoral pain. There is some evidence to suggest treating all of these issues at once may not be the best approach. Additionally, beyond physical impairments, patients may have psychological factors (fear of activity, stress, anxiety) that prolong patellofemoral pain. 

Our research has shown that using a treatment approach which sequentially addressed psychosocial and physical impairments was superior to a traditional approach for treating adolescents with patellofemoral pain. 

Our Patellofemoral Research

A sequential cognitive and physical approach (SCOPA) for patellofemoral pain: a randomized controlled trial in adolescent patients. (2018)

  • Authors: Mitchell Selhorst, William Rice, Michael Jackowski, Todd Degenhart, Shaun Coffman
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Evaluation of a treatment algorithm for patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome: a pilot study. (2015)

  • Authors: Mitchell Selhorst, William Rice, Todd Degenhart, Michael Jackowski, Melissa Tatman
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Treatment of Pediatric Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are a common injury in most sports that can keep athletes from playing for weeks and sometimes months. The current recommendation of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) is an effective treatment, but even so, athletes take weeks to return to full potential. Band traction is a treatment that uses thick elastic bands to gently stretch out the ankle following an ankle sprain. The goal of this treatment is to reduce swelling, increase pain free ankle motion and get the athlete back onto the field faster.

Currently, no research has been performed assessing the effectiveness of band traction. This study evaluates patients with acute (<7 days) ankle sprains and assesses if band traction works better than the RICE treatment alone. The results of this study found that both RICE and band traction treatments resulted in similar positive patient outcomes.

Our Pediatric Ankle Sprain Research


  •  Authors: Kathryn Iammarino, James Marrie, Mitchell Selhorst, Linda Lowes
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Adolescent Low Back Pain

Half of all adolescents report experiencing low back pain, and those who are active in sports report an even higher rate.  The growing spine introduces variables into the assessment and management of lumbar injuries which do not exist in the developed spine of the adult.  Therefore adolescent low back pain should be treated differently than adults.  Our research has focused on treatment interventions for low back pain as well as improving the model of care for athletes with spondylolysis, a bone stress injury in the low back. 

Our Adolescent Low Back Pain Research

Prevalence of Spondylolysis in Symptomatic Adolescent Athletes: An Assessment of Sport Risk in Nonelite Athletes. (2017)

  • Authors: Mitchell Selhorst, Anastasia Fischer, James MacDonald
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Timing of Physical Therapy Referral in Adolescent Athletes with Acute Spondylolysis: A Retrospective Chart Review. (2017)

  • Authors: Mitchell Selhorst, Anastasia Fischer, Kristine Graft, Reno Ravindran, Eric Peters, Richard Rodenberg, Eric Welder, James MacDonald
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Long-term Clinical Outcomes and Factors that Predict Poor Prognosis in Athletes after a Diagnosis of Acute Spondylolysis: A Retrospective Review with Phone Follow-Up. (2016)

  • Authors: Mitchell Selhorst, Anastasia Fischer, Kristine Graft, Reno Ravindran, Eric Peters, Richard Rodenberg, James MacDonald.
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Lumbar manipulation and exercise for the treatment of acute low back pain in adolescents: a randomized controlled trial.