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NIU scientist lands $10,000 grant to research concussions in athletes

January 26, 2015
CHHS Newsletter pic-Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson, assistant professor in the NIU School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders, received a $10,000 American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation New Investigators Research Grant during the 2014 Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) in Orlando, Fla.

Wilson will be using the grant to examine how auditory attention and working memory abilities are affected over time in athletes who are frequently exposed to concussive and subconcussive impacts (SCI), commonly known as concussions. He will explore how brain activity changes over time by measuring brain activity under different experimental conditions.

However, the project is just the first step for Wilson.

He intends to use the findings in conjunction with current concussion management protocols to identify the subtle, long-term cognitive difficulties that accompany repeated concussions. His research will make it possible for audiologists and speech-pathologist to better treat these types of injuries.

“The current state of concussion research has largely focused on the concussive injuries themselves,” Wilson said. “The grant research aims at contributing to this lesser known area of research by following athletes over time as they are exposed to SCI and seeing what effect it has on the measurements we’re taking.”

Additionally, he hopes to use this opportunity as a platform to raise awareness about the seriousness of concussions.

Wilson said encouraging coaches, athletes and parents to get actively involved in concussion research is a crucial first step towards ensuring that information can be effectively transferred from the playing field to other aspects of life.

foundation-logo-web“The ultimate goal is to be able to use this project as a launching point for developing relationships within the community and to raise awareness about the greater issues of concussions,” Wilson said.

The New Investigators Research Grant supports scientists who have earned their latest degree in communication sciences within the last five years, and are pursuing research in audiology or speech-language pathology.

The ASHFoundation is a charitable organization that promotes a better quality of life for children and adults with communication disorders. The ASHFoundation is affiliated with ASHA and is part of the Association’s annual convention ─ the most comprehensive development conference for speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and speech, language and hearing scientists.