From the big leagues to the little leagues, sports come with the risk of injury.
“Concussions and knee injuries are big deals in sports. Millions of athletes each year [experience] both,” said Jason Avadesian, an interdisciplinary health sciences doctoral candidate who recently shared his research at the Graduate College’s Rebel Grad Slam.
The weeklong competition challenges graduate students to present their research in three minutes using only one PowerPoint slide.
Avadesian's research focuses on comparing movement patterns in the lower body between adolescent athletes who have and haven’t previously suffered from concussions.
“As I was finishing up [my master’s program] and getting ready to move out here, there was a thread on Twitter about the relationship between knee injuries and concussions,” Avedesian said. “I looked at some of the literature and I found some research that said [athletes who have had a concussion] are at higher risk [of a lower body injury]. With my biomechanics background I thought it would be a cool dissertation topic.”
Avedesian focused his research on the piece that was missing in literature: the relationship between the brain and the lower body in adolescent athletes. His experiments look at the jumping and landing patterns of athletes, and they’ve proven that there is a relationship between previous brain injuries and lower body injuries.
“[Concussions and knee injuries] cause issues in terms of hospital costs and time away from the sport and the team,” Avedesian said. “The link between the two is important, and my greatest concern is trying to mitigate the risk as much as we can so athletes can enjoy the benefits of sports.”
Avedesian focuses on adolescents to help prevent future issues for this key demographic.
“Kids are participating more and more in sports. They are in school and play sports full-time,” Avedesian said. “At such a young age, if they were to sustain these injuries, they could experience more detrimental effects chronically, because they are still developing overall.
“I want to tell parents, coaches, athletes, ‘This is what we found. This is what we think the research means. Let’s work together on this and create a safer environment for our athletes.’”