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Differences in Brain Functions Results in non-contact Knee Injuries

A new study by University of Delaware scientists has revealed that non-contact knee injuries are the results of differences in brain functions .

At UD's Human Performance Lab, researchers are exploring injury proneness by measuring how people mentally prepare and react to unanticipated events.

To identify subjects for their study, the researchers administered neuro-cognitive tests to nearly 1,500 athletes at 18 universities during the preseason. This testing also provided baseline data for athletes who might sustain a concussion after the season started.

We had some data from previous research which suggested that these non-contact knee injuries occur when a person gets distracted or is 'caught off guard, Charles Buz Swanik, the UD assistant professor of health sciences who led the study, said.

This made me wonder if we could measure whether these individuals had different mental characteristics that made them injury-prone, Swanik said.

These awkward movements have the biomechanical appearance of a knee buckling, but can be reproduced safely in the lab to study how people mentally prepare and react to unanticipated events. Visual memory, verbal memory, processing speed, and reaction time all were assessed.

After the season started, a number of the tested athletes ended up sustaining non-contact ACL injuries. These athletes were identified, and 80 of them were matched up to a control group of 80 non-injured athletes according to height, weight, age, gender, sport, position and years of experience at the college level.

Male and female athletes in 10 intercollegiate sports were represented, including football, soccer, lacrosse, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, gymnastics, wrestling, fencing and softball.

Then the preseason test results from the two groups of athletes were compared. In analyzing the data, the scientists found that the athletes who ended u
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