January 15, 2015 | 9 a.m.
By Tricia Theurer, Communications Specialist
What do Major League Baseball, the Concussion Health company, and Bethel University have in common? All three organizations are now connected, as Bethel was recently recognized as a “Center of Excellence” provider for treatment of head trauma and concussions of professional baseball umpires. In addition, Bethel recently hosted a conference held by Concussion Health, which provides training across the continuum of care in concussion management.
Justin Byers, associate professor of human kinetics and applied health science and assistant athletic trainer, was contacted by Concussion Health because of his background in athletic training, history of professional baseball experience, and academic work focusing on motor learning. In addition, Concussion Health and Major League Baseball were interested in training clinical sites in cities like Minneapolis-St. Paul that are home to major league baseball teams as well as professional baseball umpires. Byers was grateful for the opportunity to align with the Professional Baseball Umpires’ Concussion Management Network because, as he explains, “Just like the players, many umpires require medical attention and treatment related to head trauma.”
As a training clinical site, Bethel’s biokinetics program will provide post-injury neurocognitive and neurophysical testing for umpires using the Professional Baseball Umpires’ concussion management testing protocol included in the Biodex BioSway, a portable balance system that brings testing and training technology directly to patients. Bethel may also provide concussion rehabilitation for the umpires. “The addition of the Biodex BioSway has strengthened Bethel’s already dynamic undergraduate research,” says Byers. “This state-of-the-art equipment allows us to study a vast array of phenomena associated with balance and coordination.” The BioSway has been used in award-winning undergraduate research to test the effects of core strengthening exercise on balance and quality of life among older adults, as well as the effects of yoga on mobility, stability, and balance in children with Down syndrome. “With the purchase of this equipment, and through the partnership with Major League Baseball and Concussion Health, undergrad students have the opportunity to enhance their experience in exciting ways,” Byers says.
He notes that with the biokinetics program’s move into the dynamic learning space of the new Wellness Center (now under construction), the department will also be able to expand services to faculty and other members of the Bethel community while exploring other partnerships. Seth Paradis, director of the biokinetics program, describes the partnership as unique. “Rarely in the landscape of higher education do opportunities arise that closely mirror faculty members’ passions both clinically and educationally,” he says. “This is precisely what has become reality for Justin Byers.”