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New tech at UC to spearhead fight against concussion

6 April 2018: In an Australian first, elite athletes who have suffered concussion may fast track their rehabilitation and return to action sooner than previously possible, thanks to world-class balance technology newly arrived at the University of Canberra.

Researchers at the University’s Research Institute for Sport and Exercise (UCRISE) will use a brand-new balance assessment device to comprehensively evaluate athletes with suspected concussion.

Concussion is a temporary loss of brain function and has the potential to affect a person’s ability to maintain balance and control their movement. The head injury is challenging to diagnose and to treat – no two concussions are the same – and recovery times vary widely.

UCRISE Director and Professor of Sports Medicine Gordon Waddington said the technology was a new tool in the management of concussion, especially in contact sports, and Canberra’s sports teams were set to benefit greatly.

“This device, in combination with the technology we’ve already developed, heralds the most comprehensive approach yet to treating athletes who may have suffered concussion,” Professor Waddington said.

“Using immersive virtual reality technology, we will be able to assess patient balance control by collecting objective patient data and using it to evaluate an athlete, make treatment decisions, and monitor their progress.

“It’s a game changer for our local sports teams which are having to incorporate stricter measures around head injuries. This technology will help athletes get the right treatment and hopefully, have them returning to action sooner.”

The Bertec Balance Advantage system, previously only available in North America, is a one-stop treatment tool. It will allow staff to identify changes in an athlete’s brain affecting balance and to diagnose complications that may occur after a concussion.

It will be used in conjunction with existing innovative technology developed by researchers from the University and the Australian Institute of Sport.

Super Rugby’s ACT Brumbies, the NRL’s Canberra Raiders and the WNBL’s University of Canberra Capitals will all be able to utilise the technology.

Professor Waddington, who also conducts research for the Australian Institute of Sport, said it would only strengthen the University’s connection to Canberra’s highest-profile sports teams.

“UCRISE already works closely with the ACT’s biggest clubs, but this will further enhance the relationship,” he said.

“The addition of yet another world-class device to our offering also solidifies the Institute’s reputation as one of the southern hemisphere’s leading sports science laboratories.”

While the technology will be primarily used on athletes with suspected concussion, it will also advance the Institute’s work with NASA to ensure astronauts are able to walk on the surface of Mars in the not-too-distant future.

Contact the University of Canberra media team:

Antony Perry: 0434 795 919

Claudia Doman: 0408 826 362