The Evansville Youth Hockey Association (EYHA) recently collaborated with the University of Southern Indiana in an effort to improve safety and fitness for young hockey players. Two projects coordinated by the Center for Applied Research and Economic Development include cognitive baseline and physical performance analyses.
Patricia Marcum, instructor in Kinesiology and Sport, and Dr. Jason Langley, assistant professor in Kinesiology and Sport, teach Measurement and Evaluation of Physical Education at USI, and are using their projects to give students a hands-on learning approach. Students administered the tests on EYHA athletes ranging from ages 8-18.
During cognitive baseline analyses, Marcum and her students measured athlete’s neurocognitive function. If the athlete is injured, an identical test can identify cognitive changes from the initial test, tell if the brain has fully recovered, and determine if the athlete is ready to return to the sport. “Players need to be protected from themselves,” said Craig MacDonald, hockey director of EYHA. “They just want to play and often overlook the dangers of what a concussion will cause down the road.”
Langley’s work with his students involves 11 physical tests that cover muscular endurance, flexibility, body composition, body mass index, and muscular strength/power. The information will be used to gauge athletic capabilities of children and adolescents in youth hockey. “In general, this age group is not often tested in the way we approached this project,” said Langley. “The body of literature is also minimal when describing youth hockey athletes.”
“I really enjoyed the work outside the classroom,” said junior Kayla Martin. “This type of work allows me and the other students to realize real applications for what we’re learning in class,” added senior Dylan Swartzell.
USI will continue to work with EYHA. Data gathered will be used to improve all aspects of the hockey program, from the physical capabilities of the players, to education about concussion prevention and management.
The project was partially funded by grants provided through the Real USI Service Learning program.
For more information, contact the Center for Applied Research and Economic Development at 812/228-5108 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kinesiology major Tyler Pipes and Evansville Youth Hockey Association athlete Jesse Lewis engage in physical tests measuring muscular endurance and flexibility.