In This Section


April 12, 2001

Two Coastal Carolina University professors are conducting a study to help educate females and female athletes in Horry County regarding osteoporosis prevention.

The two-part study is being conducted by Kathryn Hilgenkamp- Rodgers, assistant professor of health promotion, and Sharon Thompson, associate professor of health promotion.

Part one of the study, conducted by Hilgenkamp-Rodgers, is titled Reducing Risk of Osteoporosis Among College-Aged Females. The second part of the study is being conducted by Thompson and is titled Osteoporosis Prevention for Female Athletes in High Risk Sports.

The most important time for bone formation is between the ages of 10 and 30, said Thompson. Our goal is to make young females aware of the dangers of osteoporosis and to encourage them to develop a healthy lifestyle early on in their lives to help prevent this disease. Some of the factors that help reduce osteoporosis are sound nutritional and exercise habits and an increase in calcium consumption. The calcium requirement for teenage girls and young women is 1,200 milligrams per day.

According to Thompson, her study will look at a recently recognized syndrome called the female athlete triad, which females athletes who engage in extensive training may develop. The syndrome consists of three distinct but interrelated conditions eating disorders, amenorrhea and osteoporosis. Amenorrhea refers to irregular or absent menstrual periods.

The objectives of the study are to: (1) develop instructional information regarding skeletal growth and maintenance, debilitative effects of excessive protein consumption, detrimental effects from the use of caffeine/nicotine/alcohol, and sources of calcium in the diet; (2) include individuals from Coastal and the community in the planning of programs designed to impact behaviors which will reduce the incidence and severity of osteoporosis among females; (3) develop a plan to continue with osteoporosis prevention in local schools and educate athletes in high risk sports gymnastics, ballet and long distance running; (4) develop a plan with local hospitals and physical therapists who offer sports physicals to Horry County students to offer osteoporosis screening programs on a regular basis for female residents in the county.

Hilgenkamp-Rodgers received her bachelors degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, her masters degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and her doctoral degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has done post-doctoral study at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She is also a certified health education specialist.

Thompson, who joined the Coastal faculty in 1993, earned her bachelors degree from Clemson University and her masters degree and Ed.D from the University of South Carolina. She is a certified health education specialist and certified personal trainer. Thompson was named the South Carolina Health Education Professional of the Year in 1997.