Patrick Fischer presents Mechanical Engineering PhD Dissertation Defense
- Monday, November 29, 2021 at 11:00am
- Linfield Hall, 301 - view map
Efforts Towards a Richer Understanding of Cognitive-Motor Function and Lower-Extremity Biomechanics
Anterior cruciate ligament injuries present a considerable problem for athletic populations, especially those that engage in sports with open-skill movement demands like rapid changes of direction. These injuries typically occur in a non-contact setting, that is, the forces generated by the athlete’s own movement overburden the ligaments in the knee and cause partial or total rupture of the tissue. Considerable effort has been devoted to researching and, by extension, counteracting the physical contributions to injury risk; for example, at-risk athletes are encouraged to develop better balance, strength, and conditioning to counteract the adverse effects of poor movement performance. However, anterior cruciate ligament injury risk is tied to cognitive factors as well as physiological factors that interact with external distractions in the sporting environment to compromise an athlete’s ability to move safely and effectively.
The purpose of this research was to investigate contributions of different cognitive domains to movement performance in distracted, sport-relevant scenarios, to develop a better understanding of the cognitive-motor relationships that underpin injury rates in these athletic populations. Motion capture and computerized testing provided biomechanical and cognitive outcome measures, respectively, in cohorts of recreational and competitive athletes. The results collectively demonstrated that cognitive function has an important, if not fully understood, role to play in mitigating an athlete’s susceptibility to distractions during open-skill movement performance. This research adds to a critically underdeveloped body of work explaining the subject-specificity of neuromuscular control and may lead to providing new directions for improving injury risk assessment and mitigation efforts for clinicians and coaches.
- Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering