Helping others avoid the broken bones she had as a teenager motivated Wake Forest senior Aubrey Bledsoe to work with a health and exercise science professor to study bone health in athletes.

Aubrey Bledsoe

Bledsoe and her twin sister were diagnosed with juvenile osteoporosis when they were 13 years old. Osteoporosis literally means porous or brittle bone, and people with the affliction have an increased risk of fractures. This meant Bledsoe and her twin spent their teenage years taking calcium supplements and wearing casts. “Being a soccer goal-keeper, I was breaking almost every finger,” Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe said a healthy diet and plenty of weight-bearing exercise helped her strengthen her bones and enabled her to hone her craft. She is now an all-American goalkeeper for the Wake Forest women’s soccer team. When she’s not blocking goals or excelling in the classroom, Bledsoe is working alongside Peter Brubaker, a professor in Wake Forest’s department of Health and Exercise Science, to study bone mineral density loss in collegiate long distance runners.

Brubaker said the goal of this first-of-a-kind study is to figure out why long distance runners, particularly women, are more likely than athletes in other sports to develop osteoporosis later in life.