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21-year old Amir Miller was a freshman at Ohio University the first time he got injured playing football. The defensive end cut to make a tackle and felt his knee pop.
Miller said, “I knew in my heart I tore it. I didn’t want to believe it. But I kind of knew that I tore it.”
After surgery to repair his torn ACL and months of physical therapy, Amir returned to the team, only to re-tear the joint this fall. But is there a way to improve rehab, and cut the risk of re-injury?
Dustin Grooms PhD, ATC, CSCS, Assistant Professor of Athletic Training, Ohio University said, “What happens after this injury is your brain starts to use vision for motion because its very accurate and very sensitive, and it’s able to help guide your movement.”
During rehab, athletes use special strobe glasses to suppress vision, forcing them to rely on Proprioception, The brain’s ability to sense the knees without seeing them.
Doctor Grooms said, “And get that cognitive load or that thinking load during therapy, that way when their joints are ready to go back, their brains are as well.”
Grooms lab has also developed training scenarios for military servicemen and women with ACL tears.
Grooms said, “We do everything right in therapy, but when they go back to high stress tactical situations their ability to control their knee is not as good as they would want it to be.”
Immersing soldiers and athletes in virtual reality to prepare their brains for normal movement after the body heals. “
The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded dustin grooms’ lab a $750,000 grant to continue to study virtual reality ACL rehabilitation.