TECH BYTE: Virtual Reality Used to Study Concussions

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — College football season is officially underway.

One university is using tech to study concussions, and help players.

Virtual reality isn’t just for playing video games. It’s being used to help student athletes.

Graduate athletic training professor Gary Wilkerson with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is studying why more players who’ve gotten concussions, are also getting knee and ankle injuries later.

“We’re just beginning to unravel what the effects really are,” Wilkerson said. “It’s very challenging because there are no symptoms. It’s a completely asymptomatic process, which is why we are doing the VR training. Because we want to be able to detect if there’s something that’s not perfectly normal, we want to detect it as soon as we can. We don’t know if we can fix it or not, but you certainly can’t fix it if you don’t know that it’s there.”

Wilkerson is using VR to research a player’s response time after a concussion.

While wearing the headset, UTC Mocs runningback Ailym Ford was instructed to lunge in either the same or opposite direction a shape is going.

“I can see characteristic patterns, characteristic profiles in people who have had multiple concussions,” Wilkerson said. “Now can we fix it? We don’t know. We feel pretty confident that wherever you are, we can make you better.”

This further demonstrates just how much milliseconds matter during a game.

“Indecision is very often a part of the susceptibility,” Wilkerson said. “The more confident you are in your responses, the more protected you are.”

“As soon as you hesitate, that’s when you get it wrong,” Ford said. “Just like on the field. As soon as you hesitate, you miss the hole. You miss the gap, and that’s how you lose.”

One thing Wilkerson does know for sure – having a lot of sugar, and not getting enough sleep can make concussion symptoms worse.

You can read more about his research here.

Categories: Local News, Tech Byte, Technology