Current Projects

NCAA/DoD Grand Alliance Concussion Education Research Education (CARE) program

The University of Delaware is one of 30 colleges and universities nationwide partaking in the largest concussion research study ever conducted. The goal to gain a better understanding of the neurobiopsychosocial nature of concussive injury and recovery in order to ultimately enhance the safety and health of our student-athletes, service members, youth sports participants and the broader public.

Funding: NCAA and Department of Defense.
Project Period: July 2015 – Current

A Randomized Control Trial Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Get aHEAD Safely in Soccer™ Heading Intervention for Improving Safe Play and Reducing Concussion in Youth Soccer Players

In 2015, the U.S. Soccer Federation (US Soccer) enacted the U.S. Soccer Concussion Initiative, which included new guidelines that prohibit soccer heading in players aged <11 years and limit exposure to soccer heading in players aged 11-13 years. The primary intention of these guidelines is to prevent concussions in these at-risk age groups. However, these new guidelines do not provide a mechanism from which to teach proper soccer heading technique that may result in the reduction of long-term heading exposure and concussions, and enhance safe play. We recently partnered with the United Soccer Coaches (formerly known as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America – NSCAA) to develop the Get aHEAD Safely in Soccer™ (Get aHEAD) intervention to address this need. The Get aHEAD intervention is focused on educating youth soccer coaches on how to teach proper heading technique and safe play using progressive training and ball modifications, behavioral safe play strategies, and neck and core strengthening. However, the effectiveness of the Get aHEAD intervention has yet to be examined empirically. Therefore, we propose to conduct a randomized control trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness of the Get aHEAD intervention in reducing exposure to soccer heading and concussions in youth soccer by preparing players to properly head a soccer ball.

Funding: Brain Injury Association of Delaware
Project Period: February 2018 – June 2019

Long-Term Effects Following an Acute Lateral Ankle Sprain in Collegiate Student-Athletes

Aim 1: To compare mechanical laxity of the talocrural joint in collegiate student-athletes over time after an acute ankle sprain (AAS).

Aim 2: To examine the difference in thickness of the ATFL in collegiate student-athletes over time after an AAS.

Aim 3: To investigate dynamic balance deficits in collegiate student-athletes over time after an AAS.

Aim 4: To compare mechanical laxity, ATFL thickness and dynamic balance in collegiate athletes that have experienced an AAS and those that present with CAI and those without a history of previous LAS, control (CON).

Project Period: November 2017 – May 2019

Examination of Purposeful Heading and Neuropsychological Test Performance in Intercollegiate Soccer Players

This study will examine the usefulness of a computerized battery of neuropsychological tests (ImPACT) on a group of female & male, intercollegiate soccer players. In addition, a prospective analysis will be performed to examine heading data and the incidence of concussion in intercollegiate soccer. Heading data will then be used as a correlate to examine if purposeful heading influences neuropsychological test performance.

Statement of the Problem:

The purpose of this study is twofold; first to determine the incidence and prevalence of concussion in a sample of intercollegiate soccer players and secondly to evaluate the effects of purposeful heading on neurocognitive test performance in these same players over the course of a competitive season, as well as their career at the University of Delaware.

Project Period: Fall 2003 – current

Ankle Injury Assessment and Tracking in an Athletic Population

The ankle is the most injured body part in sports. In fact, ankle sprains account for 85% of all injuries to the foot and ankle. Due to the high incidence, many studies have examined ways to prevent ankle sprains. Though an understanding in the prevention of ankle injuries is important, it may be more valuable to examine factors that predispose athletes to ankle injury including laxity (looseness), strength, the time is takes to stabilize while landing from a jump, and an ultrasonic view of the ligaments surrounding the joint. It has been shown that an increase in stability leads to a decrease in injury. Utilizing a variety of technologies available in our lab including ankle arthrometry, isokinetic strength testing, force plate technology, and musculoskeletal ultrasound each of the above named factors can be measured and analyzed. The purpose of this study is to use these methods to collect baseline measurements on intercollegiate athletes here at the University of Delaware and determine any correlations with ankle (lower extremity) injuries. Working closely with UD’s sports medicine staff, ankle injuries will be monitored and tracked. The aim of this study is to determine which factors closely relate to ankle sprains. In the future, we hope to use this baseline data to identify at risk athletes and allow for the sports health care team to intervene with appropriate prevention strategies to improve performance and lessen the chance of injury.

Project Period: Fall 2009 – current