Concussion in sport has become a prominent issue. It is a complex neurological injury that affects the function of various senses, including the visual, vestibular and somatosensory systems. These systems work together to perceive vital information about one’s self within the surrounding environment in order to produce actions and maintain balance control. Athletes require very efficient integration of these systems with the higher demands of sport.
My research is focused on determining the physiological recovery of deficits in the integration of visual, vestibular and somatosensory systems for individuals with sport-related concussion. The current objective measures used in clinical practice are not sensitive to detecting these deficits. Therefore, athletes who are cleared for full return to play may continue to have persistent dysfunction, which can increase their risk for subsequent injuries.
As a sports medicine practitioner (registered physiotherapist, certified athletic therapist), I work with athletes both on the field and in the clinical setting. My primary goal is to bridge the gap between the literature and the clinic in regards to concussion management. I hope to improve clinical practice guidelines for the objective assessment of balance and visuomotor function using combined cognitive-motor tasks for athletes with concussion. This will help practitioners with clinical decision-making to determine if an athlete is truly ready to return to sport and reduce the incidence of subsequent injuries.
Katie Mitchell works with Michael E. Cinelli, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology.
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