September 6, 2013

Meet the linebacker who's researchin​g concussion​s

More news about: Case Western Reserve

Outside linebacker Scott Campbell's job on the football field—among other things—is to put a licking on the opposing team's offensive players. It's an aspect of football the biology and psychology major doesn't take lightly, as he fully understands the risk for concussions in the hard-hitting, increasingly criticized sport due to his recent research and work on the topic.

Campbell began his focus on concussions in the lab of Jay Alberts, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, in 2011. At that time, the lab—in conjunction with Cleveland Clinic—was beginning work on a concussion assessment iPad app, called C3.

The app tests potentially concussed athletes by administering assessments for balance, dynamic visual acuity, reaction time, cognitive functioning, memory, and hand/eye coordination. Concussions can cause a wide range of symptoms, and the application aims to provide insight into all of the potential signs.

"The goal of the app is to provide a portable and accurate tool for athletic trainers and physicians and to make sure athletes aren't playing with concussions," Campbell said. "Concussions are very difficult to gauge for athletic trainers and athletes, and we hope the app helps to better diagnose these head traumas."

Campbell works with a team of researchers to validate the individual tests in the lab and also goes out in the community with Cleveland Clinic athletic trainers to test high school athletes. The data they gain is used to further improve concussion assessment techniques while also helping the young athletes who play sports that have an increased rate of head trauma, such as soccer, football, hockey and wrestling.

"If an athlete tests positive for a concussion, they are not allowed to begin participating [in the sport] again until they eventually pass the assessments and are completely symptom-free," Campbell said. "So, the testing benefits the students' health and gives us the data we needed to better improve the technology in the app and gain a sound understanding of when each athlete can safely return to the field after a concussion."

After graduation this upcoming spring, Campbell hopes to attend medical school with an interest in neurology or sports medicine, in hopes of becoming a physician and continuing work as a researcher.

"With the current attention to concussions, a lot of parents are against their kids playing physical sports," he said. "I hope concussion research will be able to come far enough where concussions don't become a deciding factor in sports, and that kids will be able to learn the same lessons regarding teamwork, preparation and discipline that sports have taught me."

When Campbell isn't learning in the classroom, practicing on the football field or researching in the lab, he can be found watching the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Blackhawks on TV, playing catch and biking outside, or playing his roommates in FIFA, NHL and Madden on the XBOX.

Find out more about Campbell in this week's (new) 5 questions—and be sure to root on No. 99 and the Spartan football team as they start the season off with a bang tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Case Field, when they take on Marietta at the annual Fireworks Night.

1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would live in Germany. I visited this past summer and the people there seem to have a deeper appreciation for history and different perspective on life.

2. What was your first concert?
I went to an ABBA concert with my family when I was in middle school. My first concert with my friends was in high school. We saw Red Hot Chili Peppers at Quicken Loans Arena.

3. Where is your favorite spot on campus and why?
Kelvin Smith Library. When you have a lot of work to do, it's a great place to go hammer stuff out. Leaving and having everything done is very satisfying.

4. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I want to be a physician who also works on research. Beyond that I hope to be in Cleveland.

5. What is your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?
I like that everybody at Case Western Reserve can be themselves. Students don't have to be someone they're not.

Outside linebacker Scott Campbell's job on the football field—among other things—is to put a licking on the opposing team's offensive players. It's an aspect of football the biology and psychology major doesn't take lightly, as he fully understands the risk for concussions in the hard-hitting, increasingly criticized sport due to his recent research and work on the topic.

Campbell began his focus on concussions in the lab of Jay Alberts, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, in 2011. At that time, the lab—in conjunction with Cleveland Clinic—was beginning work on a concussion assessment iPad app, called C3.

The app tests potentially concussed athletes by administering assessments for balance, dynamic visual acuity, reaction time, cognitive functioning, memory, and hand/eye coordination. Concussions can cause a wide range of symptoms, and the application aims to provide insight into all of the potential signs.

"The goal of the app is to provide a portable and accurate tool for athletic trainers and physicians and to make sure athletes aren't playing with concussions," Campbell said. "Concussions are very difficult to gauge for athletic trainers and athletes, and we hope the app helps to better diagnose these head traumas."

Campbell works with a team of researchers to validate the individual tests in the lab and also goes out in the community with Cleveland Clinic athletic trainers to test high school athletes. The data they gain is used to further improve concussion assessment techniques while also helping the young athletes who play sports that have an increased rate of head trauma, such as soccer, football, hockey and wrestling.

"If an athlete tests positive for a concussion, they are not allowed to begin participating [in the sport] again until they eventually pass the assessments and are completely symptom-free," Campbell said. "So, the testing benefits the students' health and gives us the data we needed to better improve the technology in the app and gain a sound understanding of when each athlete can safely return to the field after a concussion."

After graduation this upcoming spring, Campbell hopes to attend medical school with an interest in neurology or sports medicine, in hopes of becoming a physician and continuing work as a researcher.

"With the current attention to concussions, a lot of parents are against their kids playing physical sports," he said. "I hope concussion research will be able to come far enough where concussions don't become a deciding factor in sports, and that kids will be able to learn the same lessons regarding teamwork, preparation and discipline that sports have taught me."

When Campbell isn't learning in the classroom, practicing on the football field or researching in the lab, he can be found watching the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Blackhawks on TV, playing catch and biking outside, or playing his roommates in FIFA, NHL and Madden on the XBOX.

Find out more about Campbell in this week's (new) 5 questions—and be sure to root on No. 99 and the Spartan football team as they start the season off with a bang tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Case Field, when they take on Marietta at the annual Fireworks Night.

1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would live in Germany. I visited this past summer and the people there seem to have a deeper appreciation for history and different perspective on life.

2. What was your first concert?
I went to an ABBA concert with my family when I was in middle school. My first concert with my friends was in high school. We saw Red Hot Chili Peppers at Quicken Loans Arena.

3. Where is your favorite spot on campus and why?
Kelvin Smith Library. When you have a lot of work to do, it's a great place to go hammer stuff out. Leaving and having everything done is very satisfying.

4. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I want to be a physician who also works on research. Beyond that I hope to be in Cleveland.

5. What is your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?
I like that everybody at Case Western Reserve can be themselves. Students don't have to be someone they're not.

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