Research builds on more than 10 years of concussion research at USU

Utah State University (USU) today announced that it has completed testing all of its student athletes using a SMART EquiTest system as part of an interdisciplinary concussion research project jointly led by the Athletics Department and the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education (CDDE). This study builds on more than 10 years of concussion research from USU, and marks the first collaboration among experts in athletics, hearing and balance, and health and human movement to establish baseline measurements and perform 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 over 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 & 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. Audiology researchers from the CDDE department at the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services will assist with the administration and interpretation of these tests. “This leg of our ongoing 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 Mildenberger. “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, Ph.D., director of Audiology in the CDDE 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. About Utah State University Utah State University is one of the nation’s premier student-centered land-grant and space-grant universities, providing access to a research-intensive environment that fosters the principle that academics come first. The university cultivates diversity of thought and culture and serves the public through learning, discovery and engagement. About the College of Education and Human Services The Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University is committed to offering high-quality graduate and undergraduate programs in education and human services that are innovative and widely accessible. The college is also dedicated to establishing and maintaining nationally visible research centers that advance knowledge and professional practices. For more information, visit http://www.cehs.usu.edu/ . SOURCE: Emma Eccles Jones College of Education & Human Services

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