Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is a prime stabilizer in the elbow against valgus force. It is also a commonly injured structure in the overhead-throwing athlete. The majority of literature to date assesses the medial elbow by adding a valgus stress or evaluates the elbow after injury has occurred. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore static changes to the medial elbow and the relationship with the overhead throw. The first investigation sought to determine if there was a bilateral difference in the medial joint space of the elbow in general population college-aged students. There was no significant difference bilaterally; suggesting that the magnitude of stress applied to the elbow by daily activities is not substantial enough to produce an anatomical change to the connective tissue. However, there was a significant gender effect with males exhibiting larger joint spaces. The second study investigated the bilateral difference in the medial joint space of the elbow in male and female overhead athletes with the same protocol from the previous study. In this study, there was a significant difference between the dominant and non-dominant arms. The third study measured the medial joint space of collegiate baseball pitchers before, after, and 48 hours following the throwing of a simulated game. This study also included measures of grip strength and ball kinematics, in order to investigate a relationship between kinetic and kinematic factors and the changes in the medial joint space. There were no significant changes in the medial joint space following pitching a simulated game, although interestingly, grip strength increased following pitching. Ball kinematics did not indicate a relationship with the changes in the medial elbow joint space.



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Committee Chair

Landin, Dennis



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Kinesiology Commons