A first-of-its-kind clinical trial by a research team at the University of Mississippi Medical Center aims to evaluate the effectiveness of aggressive physical therapy as “sensorimotor” training, which addresses the ability to take in sensory information and use it to direct your movement. Dr. Jennifer Reneker, associate professor of physical therapy, and a team of faculty, residents and students are putting Mississippi College men’s and women’s soccer players through a month-long exercise regimen that will help lead them to the study’s conclusions.
Some of the exercises use a device called an Iron Neck to be strapped to the player’s head. “It uses a cuff to get a nice snug fit,” Babl said. “That allows us to tether a resistance cord to a fixed point, and it provides resistance for the muscles of the neck in each direction and for rotational movement when a player is in a sports-specific position.
“We want to see whether their abilities to use the muscles of the neck can help them,” said Dr. Ryan Babl, an assistant professor of physical therapy at UMMC. “Does it influence decreasing the rate of experiencing a concussion? Does having the ability to strengthen these muscles help the player to be less susceptible to injury? And if they do receive an injury, do the exercises help them recover from a concussion more efficiently?”
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