HHP junior leading student research team at national tournament
Abby Jones is devoting many hours over the next two months researching and learning about athletes who suffer concussions while playing in wheelchair basketball leagues.
It’s a surprisingly rambunctious contact sport, as Jones quickly discovered through her research. “I didn’t know concussions were so prevalent in disability sports,” she said.
Time spent pouring over literature and working with her professors is preparing the Radford University junior to lead a team of eight student researchers to assess and collect data from players making up the rosters of 96 youth and adult teams playing in April at the 2018 National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky.
At the tournament, Jones, an Allied Health Sciences major from Bristol, Virginia, and her team will use the King-Devick test for concussion assessments on the athletes competing at the event. As the lead student researcher, Jones will teach and guide her fellow students through the testing and data collection procedures.
“There are not a lot of data on injury in disability sport and much less normative values for the screening tool we’re using,” Jones said. “We’re trying to figure out what is normal on the King-Devick test for athletes in wheelchair sports.”
The research team will have a large sample size to work with at the tournament. About 1,100 athletes will be competing, and the students plan to evaluate about 600 of those over the four-day event, said Health and Human Performance (HHP) Department Chair and Professor J.P. Barfield.
At various regional tournaments during 2017, another group of student researchers “collected data on 50-to-60 players,” Barfield said. “So, this is a huge opportunity to really establish norms for that population because this will be a major percentage of people who play wheelchair basketball.”
Barfield is working with the students along with fellow HHP faculty members Laura Newsome and Angela Mickle, the lead on the project.
The three have been working with concussion testing for wheelchair athletes for a few years, and this year selected Jones, an Honors Academy student, to be the lead student on the project. They awarded her the department’s Ames Scholarship for undergraduate research.
As part of the project, Jones is, with her faculty mentors, writing a research paper to submit to academic journals.
Jones is no stranger to research at Radford University. In 2017, she was part of the university’s Radford Amazonian Research Expedition (RARE) program that traveled to conduct studies in Peru. There, Jones researched obesity in the South American country, interviewing Peruvians and measuring their body mass index.
“Going to Peru with the RARE program was the best experience of my life. It took me out of my comfort zone,” Jones said. “I’ve had so many opportunities here at Radford University. It has been amazing.”