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USU Launches Unique Concussion Research Involving All Student Athletes

Thursday, Sep. 08, 2011


USU student athletes at the Laub Training Center

Utah State University has completed testing all of its student athletes as part of an interdisciplinary concussion research jointly led by the Athletics Department and the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education.


Utah State University has completed testing all of its student athletes using a SMART EquiTest system as part of interdisciplinary concussion research jointly led by the Athletics Department and the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education.

The study builds on more than 10 years of concussion research from USU and marks the first time experts in athletics, audiology, health and human movement and vestibular balance have established baseline measurements and performed in-depth concussion research on all student athletes at a university. USU currently has 395 student athletes participating in 16 sports.

“Setting up a baseline for every athlete in this way will help us more accurately evaluate those who may experience a concussive episode during competition,” said Dale Mildenberger, senior associate athletics director at USU. “Our ultimate goal is to keep these athletes safe and healthy and, as such, concussion research has been a priority here for more than a decade. With this new balance testing, we will be able to make the necessary assessments to best determine when an athlete is ready to return to game play.”

The new interdisciplinary program also provides research opportunities for certified athletic training graduate students studying sports medicine in the university’s graduate program in Health and Human Movement — including the rare opportunity to conduct surveillance of student-athletes using Computerized Dynamic Posturography.

The balance test is conducted using a SMART EquiTest system, which resembles a voting booth in size and shape. Test subjects stand on a moving platform and the machine is able to provide an objective assessment of balance control and postural stability under multiple conditions. Researchers from the Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education Department at the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services will assist with the administration and evaluations of these tests.

“This leg of our on-going research will hopefully validate the protocols we have been working on for the past decade and help us make improvements and adjustments to how individuals with concussions are monitored and treated,” added Mildenburger.

“Since balance and hearing are so interconnected, it only made sense to collaborate with our colleagues in the athletics fields here at USU,” said John Ribera, a professor in the department. “This research isn’t restricted to the area of sports. While athletes provide a unique opportunity for us because they are more apt to become concussed during play, the work we are doing is advancing the field of knowledge as a whole when it comes to anyone who may experience a concussion.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1.3 million people sustain a concussion or other form of mild traumatic brain injury each year.

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Contacts: Amanda Butterfield, Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services Public Relations, 801-461-9786, amanda@methodcommunications.com

Jacob Moon, Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services Public Relations, 801-461-9797, Jacob@methodcommunications.com





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