Cynthia R LaBella, MD
Focus of Work
I have won two awards for my research demonstrating that a coach-led neuromuscular warm-up can significantly reduce knee injuries in girls’ soccer and basketball players...[Read full text]My research has focused on identifying risk factors for injury in youth sports and developing strategies for prevention with focus on three specific domains: 1. Knee injury prevention in female adolescent athletes; 2. Youth concussion diagnostic tools and risk factors; and 3. Effects of sports specialization in young athletes.
I have won two awards for my research demonstrating that a coach-led neuromuscular warm-up can significantly reduce knee injuries in girls’ soccer and basketball players at Chicago Public High Schools. In this study we recruited approximately 1500 athletes (~100 teams) from 30 high schools. Our findings led to ISM receiving a renewable philanthropic grant form Kohl’s Cares to disseminate this injury prevention program via live and online training sessions for coaches, parents and athletes.
My research in the area of youth concussions has focused on evaluating whether the clinical tools commonly used for evaluating concussions in adults (the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale and Balance Error Scoring System) are reliable and valid for evaluating concussions and monitoring recovery in children and adolescents. I am currently the lead investigator on a longitudinal study of children with concussions to track the effects on future sports participation, risk for injury, and social, emotional and cognitive functioning. Since the study began 4 years ago, 500 subjects have been recruited from our ISM concussion program. We recruited a subset of these subjects to participate in a collaborative project with Nina Kraus, PhD, Professor of Neurobiology & Physiology and Otolaryngology at Northwestern University. This project used auditory evoked potentials to measure how the brain processes speech during recovery from a concussion. The results of this groundbreaking study, “Auditory biological marker of concussion in children,” were published in the December 2016 issue of Nature:Scientific Reports, and was featured in the New York Times and Washington Post. Dr. Kraus and I have partnered on additional research utilizing this auditory biological marker to measure the effects of playing two seasons of tackle football on the brain health of youth football players. These data were presented as an abstract at the American medical Society for Sports Medicine annual meeting in April 2018.
In the domain of sports specialization, Neeru Jayanthi, MD and I collaborated on a large clinical study to investigate the risk of injury related to sports specialization in young athletes. This research was the first to show that sports specialization alone is a risk factor for injury, independent of and athlete’s age and training volume. Subsequently, I partnered with George Chiampas MD, medical director for US Soccer, to conduct a survey of just over 1200 male youth soccer players in the US Soccer developmental academy, investigating the effects of sports specialization on injury. Our results were presented as an abstract at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in September 2017 and our manuscript was accepted for publication in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine.[Shorten text]
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Education and Certification
- MD: Cornell U Medical Ca (1994)
- Residency: Johns Hopkins Hospital, Pediatrics (1997)
- Fellowship: University of North Carolina Hospitals, Primary Care Sports Medicine (2001)
- Board Certification: Pediatrics, Sports Medicine, Sports Medicine (Pediatrics)
Administrative office: 312-227-6197
Clinic (for patients): 312-227-6190
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Box 69
225 E Chicago Avenue
Chicago IL 60611