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s t u d e n t

research highlights

:: athletic training | by Karen Fatula

Safe play

Player safety is a big concern for the nation’s youth football leagues. Medical experts have endorsed using different tackling techniques, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promotes concussion awareness protocols to avoid athlete injuries. To better understand the risks of youth (or “peewee”) football, Ohio University’s Division of Athletic Training has partnered with USA Football and the Datalys Center on a nationwide study. Of 10 data collection sites across the country, Ohio University is responsible for three, says Brian Ragan, an assistant professor of athletic training. “This is the first injury epidemiology study looking at youth football,” he says. Matthew Jackson and Kristen Wells, both first-year master’s students in the athletic training program, helped Ragan collect data during fall 2012. The graduate students worked 20 hours per week on the study, attending all practices and games with the selected teams in West Virginia and Ohio. “Our program has traditionally only offered clinical graduate assistant opportunities. This year was the first year where there was a chance for research assistantships, and Kristen and I both jumped on the opportunity,” Jackson says. In addition to the data collection, the graduate students taught players and coaches proper safety protocols, which helped to reduce injuries. Not many youth football leagues enjoy the benefit of having their own athletic trainers, they note.

Athletic trainers work to protect young athletes from injury

(Above) Kristen Wells and Matthew Jackson jumped at the chance to participate in a national study on injuries in youth football.

“This is the first time they have had an athletic trainer on the sideline at all practices and games, and they really enjoy the opportunity,” Jackson says. Jackson and Wells both say they chose to attend Ohio University for the research opportunities the school offered. In addition to the youth football safety project, they’re embarking on related studies for their master’s theses. Wells is examining the adherence

of student athletes to concussion rehabilitation protocols. She has designed an Apple iApp so athletes can record their activity and symptoms. Jackson is applying social cognitive theory and the idea of mental toughness to promote weight loss among obese people. He plans to turn weight loss into a competition and will use motivational e-mails to encourage participants to keep up with the program.

: : student

PROFILE s

kristen wells

MATTHEW J AC K SON

Hometown

Hometown

P REVIOUS EDUCATIO N

P REVIOUS EDUCATIO N

REASON FOR ATTENDING OHIO UNIVERSITY

REASON FOR ATTENDING OHIO UNIVERSITY

F ACU L TY ADVISOR

F ACU L TY ADVISOR

DE G REE P URSUED

DE G REE P URSUED

Belleville, Ontario Sheridan College

Research and clinical experience while advancing my education Brian Ragan

Master’s degree

Townsend, Massachusetts University of New England Good professors, nice campus, and it will help me pursue my goal of obtaining a Ph.D. Brian Ragan

Master’s degree

inset photos: rob hardin; additional image, dreamstime.com

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Perspectives 2013 graduate edition  

Ohio University Perspectives magazine graduate student special edition 2013

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