EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- On the field they are ripped and ready to rumble. Football players can take a lot of wear and tear. But underneath all the pads, the layers of protection, there is growing concern about hip injuries.
"It's the linemen, defensive and offensive linemen, and the safeties were shown to have FAI, hip impingement," said Maddie Johnson.
Johnson, a soon-to-be UW-Eau Claire Junior, is now also the author of a new article that looks into the issue. It was published last month in the International Athletic Journal.
She worked alongside her professor, Dr. Robert Stow, who was already researching hip impingements after he had one himself.
"It came to the point that I couldn't do a lot of the activities; I would go for a run and it would be 3 or 4 days where I couldn't do anything because of my hip," said Dr. Robert Stow.
Their research found 45% of the players at UWEC they studied had clinical signs of a hip impingement. The most at risk were those who squat or pivot while playing. Both say the injury can lead to Osteoarthritis and even bigger problems down the road.
"Those that develop Osteoarthritis later in life are doom to have total hip replacements," Dr. Stow said.
But they say it is something that can be treated early with surgery proper conditioning can help prevent it. UWEC's football trainer tells us their techniques aim to prevent injury.
"It's nice to see someone that has that go," Dr. Stow said about Johnson.
Meanwhile, both Johnson and Stow are taking time to celebrate this victory - Johnson's work being published in a journal usually reserved for grad and doctoral scholars.
"This is definitely an opportunity above all that to get into a recognized international journal and have her name front and at the top of the article," Dr. Stow said.
An opportunity to make a difference on a global scale.
"It was a lot of hard work but it paid off and I learned a lot about hip impingements and orthopedics in general, a lot of disorders involving the hip," Johnson said.
Johnson and Dr. Stow are now working on another article where they are studying the same issue with hockey players. They studied college students but say the issue is important for parents of high school athletes to know about since problems can begin at that age.