Rebecca Smith: Effects of vision training on sports concussions

Students works with the University of Cincinnati Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine

This summer, I have been working in a clinical research group with an orthopedic doctor, a first-year medical student and an undergraduate student interested in attending medical school. The group is part of the University of Cincinnati Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. The project I am working on will be either a meta-analysis or a systematic review of the effects of vision training on sports-related concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries. In the U.S., approximately 1.6 to 3.8 million sports-related and recreation-related concussions occur each year. 

Vision training can be used as a tool to treat concussions, especially when symptoms are not going away. My main goal was to complete a thorough literature search for pieces of scientific literature that can be used in the study. I performed the literature search using Google Scholar and the set of search terms selected by the group. Once we had preliminary results from the search, we excluded articles if they included children, traumatic brain injuries, or other treatments combined with vision training. Currently, the articles are being evaluated for the data each contains prior to the meta-analysis. 

As I’m doing a literature review, most of the work has been fairly independent. However, I’ve been able to go to conferences and vision training within the UC athletic department. I was able to attend a concussion conference and learn about how concussions could be diagnosed and treated more effectively through the utilization of new research. Also, I was able to shadow at vision training in the UC athletic department and see how the vision training techniques I had read about were used in practice.  

As I continue the internship, I’ll be doing more shadowing and finding data for the end of the research project. Meta-analyses have an important role in evidence-based medicine, therefore, it has been great to be part of the team evaluating the results of multiple studies with the goal of creating the best clinical practice to treat concussions. Overall, my experience has been very positive, and I’ve learned a lot about clinical research including what a career in orthopaedics and sports medicine could be like. 

Rebecca Smith is a senior in The Summit Country Day School’s Science Research Institute