Visual Abstracts

Visual abstracts provide a summary of a research paper. They are usually read from left-to-right and top-to-bottom, like a comic strip or a scientific poster.

Below we have an explanation for each visual abstract and buttons to either download the image or open in a new tab (if you wish to share the URL link instead of downloading the image).

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SPARTA force plate scans in Penn Athletes pre- and post-COVID

We found that most athletes did not show a significant change in SPARTA metrics after a long hiatus due to COVID-19-related bans on collegiate athletic activities. However, it should be noted that we did not have data on what athletes were doing during the hiatus, which is a limitation of the study. One strength of the study is that we identified bounds of meaningful change in SPARTA metrics, which can be used in future studies exploring the ability to use force plate technology to improve performance and prevent athletic injury.

Return-to-sport and return-to-academics after concussion

An analysis from the Ivy League – Big Ten Epidemiology of Concussion Study found that there were three common “profiles” observed in the collegiate athletes following return-to-sport and return-to-academic protocol. The profiles were distinct from one another in terms of when the athletes resumed academics in relation to being symptom free and when they returned to physical exertion. Interestingly, athletes who return to full academics before being symptom free were at greater risk for a delayed return-to-sport. You can read more from the publication in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, or in the accompanying invited blog post.

A case study using SPARTA force plates

One Penn volleyball player had many force plate scans over her career. We found that her musculoskeletal (MSK) health score decreased steadily over her career – the score was developed to assess susceptibility to injury where a lower MSK health score is a proposed indicator of greater injury risk. Interestingly, that MSK health score was significantly lower than her average on the day before she sustained a non-contact ankle injury. Also the day before her injury, the “Explode” score increased by approximately 15 points which is a large increase.

Experimental kickoff rule prevents concussions

An analysis from the Ivy League – Big Ten Epidemiology of Concussion Study found that a disproportionate amount of football concussions were happening during kickoff plays, where both teams are running towards each other at high speed. These findings were communicated to the Ivy League football coaches, who suggested changing the kickoff line to increase the likelihood of a touchback (which ends the play) and therefore reduce the need for players to collide at high speeds. After implementing the rule change, an 81% decrease in kickoff concussions was observed, prompting the NCAA to adopt the rule change across all competitions.