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Athletic Training Program Awarded Grant to Study Head Impacts in Men’s College Lacrosse

The $15,000 grant will lead to greater knowledge of the impact of on-the-field head injuries on lacrosse players

Sacred Heart’s athletic training education program has received a $15,000 from US Lacrosse to study the effects of on-the-field head impacts over the course of the Pioneers’ college men’s lacrosse season.

Students in the program will work with professors and staff to collect data throughout this spring season by using helmet-mounted impact sensors during games and practices. The study — titled “The Effect of Cumulative Impacts on Vestibular Ocular Reflex in Division I Men’s Lacrosse Players” — will be managed by Theresa Miyashita, director of the athletic training education program, with help from Clinical Assistant Professor Eleni Diakogeorgiou and SHU Athletic Trainer Kaitlyn Marrie.

“Little research has been focused on lacrosse, and it is the fastest-growing team sport in the U.S.,” Miyashita says. “It is a high-contact, equipment-intensive sport that needs more research.” Miyashita adds that she has particular insight and affinity for health in lacrosse players because her husband is a former professional player who is now assistant coach of SHU’s men’s team.

US Lacrosse, the sport’s national governing body, awarded the grant to allow SHU to purchase the equipment needed to conduct the research: GForceTracker helmet sensors to record the severity and frequency of head impacts, and the NeuroCom inVision system from Natus for pre- and post-testing athletes’ vestibular ocular reflex.

Miyashita says she is excited about the research as both an educational experience for the program’s students and for its potential effects on the future health of lacrosse players at all levels. “We have a great group here doing some really interesting research on a very important and hot topic,” she says. “Our primary goal is to investigate the potential cumulative effects of sub-concussive impacts on collegiate lacrosse players, ultimately to improve player safety.”