Northwestern student's poster wins national recognition

Rob Karwath | March 14, 2016

A Northwestern student's poster on field testing related to concussions has won two national awards.

Ben Jelinek, left, a chiropractic student at Northwestern Health Sciences University, recently received national recognition for a poster on research about concussion field that he conducted with colleagues including Elizabeth Moos, right, a chiropractor and clinical fellow at Northwestern's Human Performance Center.

A chiropractic student at Northwestern Health Sciences University has received national recognition for a poster that he and colleagues created based on research about field testing for concussions.

The poster by Ben Jelinek, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, placed first in the American Chiropractic Association’s national sports chiropractic convention last fall in Denver. Leaders from the ACA’s Sports Council were so impressed that they urged Jelinek to compete in the Joint Commission on Sports Medicine and Science’s national poster contest for graduate health students from all disciplines. Jelinek’s poster placed second in that competition, and he was recognized at the organization’s February convention in Anaheim, Calif.

The large color poster summarizes results from reaction-time field tests that Jelinek and other students performed. Dr. Elizabeth Moos, a sports chiropractor and clinical fellow at Northwestern’s Human Performance Center, constructed and supervised the research study. Moos and her team of student researchers asked 175 Northwestern students, faculty and staff members to participate in a test in which an administrator dropped a ruler and asked subjects to catch it as soon as they saw it move. Participants also were asked questions about their health histories, including whether they had ever had been diagnosed with a concussion or whiplash.

The testing found no significant difference in reaction times between those who had experienced a concussion or whiplash at some point in their lives and those who had not. But it did suggest that age and stress levels of the individuals tested had an effect and should be considered. It also suggested that the ruler test is an effective and easy-to-administer diagnostic tool that could be used in the field, such as on the sidelines at sporting events, to determine whether participants had experienced recent injury.

“It’s a good measure of reaction time when you have a situation with no real time or place to do more detailed testing,” said Jelinek, who will graduate this spring. “As a student, this was a great opportunity to do research and present the results in a useful way that can help with concussion testing.”

Dr. Timothy Stark, a sports chiropractor who is Director of the Northwestern Human Performance Center, said the university plans to display the poster on campus with information about the two recognitions.

“Ben did a great job,” Stark said. “It’s wonderful for Northwestern to be recognized among chiropractic peers and also among some of the largest sports medicine and science agencies in the country.”

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