The extent to which peak bone mass, structure, and strength are improved by adolescent activity will be determined, using gymnastics participation as a model of mechanical loading. A 6-10 year longitudinal study of approximately 60 late-adolescent female gymnasts and non-gymnasts will be extended and supplemented by the addition of 80 early-adolescent girls (gymnasts and non-gymnasts). Annual dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scans of the forearm, proximal femur, lumbar spine, and total body, with concurrent peripheral quantitative computed tomography scans of the forearm, will evaluate skeletal geometry, density and strength. Diet, gymnastics and other physical activity, anthropometry and Tanner self-stage will be assessed semi-annually;muscle strength will be measured annually to coincide with skeletal scans. Longitudinal and mixed longitudinal designs will use Multilevel Modeling to examine the relative contributions of geometric and densitometric skeletal adaptations and determine the persistence of those benefits to skeletal maturity. This work will provide a unique longitudinal perspective of bone growth and skeletal maintenance in the context of maturation and gymnastic activity. If this extreme model of mechanical loading does not yield persistent skeletal improvements, more widely applicable modes are unlikely to confer lasting benefits. Enhancement of peak bone mass and structure is a crucial strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis. Mechanical loading appears to increase bone acquisition during growth, yet the extent to which these benefits are maintained is unclear. The proposed study will detail skeletal responses to adolescent gymnastic activity and assess maintenance of benefits to adulthood, providing a foundation for the development of an adolescent exercise prescription to improve ultimate bone health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Research Project (R01)
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Neurological, Aging and Musculoskeletal Epidemiology (NAME)
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Chen, Faye H
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Upstate Medical University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Dowthwaite, Jodi N; Rosenbaum, Paula F; Sames, Carol A et al. (2014) Muscle function, dynamic loading, and femoral neck structure in pediatric females. Med Sci Sports Exerc 46:911-9
Dowthwaite, Jodi N; Rosenbaum, Paula F; Scerpella, Tamara A (2012) Site-specific advantages in skeletal geometry and strength at the proximal femur and forearm in young female gymnasts. Bone 50:1173-83
Dowthwaite, J N; Scerpella, T A (2011) Distal radius geometry and skeletal strength indices after peripubertal artistic gymnastics. Osteoporos Int 22:207-16
Scerpella, T A; Dowthwaite, J N; Rosenbaum, P F (2011) Sustained skeletal benefit from childhood mechanical loading. Osteoporos Int 22:2205-10
Dowthwaite, Jodi Noelle; Flowers, Portia P E; Scerpella, Tamara Ann (2011) Agreement between pQCT- and DXA-derived indices of bone geometry, density, and theoretical strength in females of varying age, maturity, and physical activity. J Bone Miner Res 26:1349-57
Dowthwaite, Jodi N; Rosenbaum, Paula F; Scerpella, Tamara A (2011) Mechanical loading during growth is associated with plane-specific differences in vertebral geometry: A cross-sectional analysis comparing artistic gymnasts vs. non-gymnasts. Bone 49:1046-54
Dowthwaite, J N; Scerpella, T A (2009) Skeletal geometry and indices of bone strength in artistic gymnasts. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact 9:198-214