Optimizing Safety and Performance in Sports

Scientists and former football players Isaiah Kacyvenski and Kevin Jackson will be speaking on “Optimizing Safety and Performance in Sports--Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Head Impacts,” at 4 pm on Tuesday, August 13, in Room 1005 of the Beckman Institute, 405 N. Mathews, Urbana.

One of the most remarkable, recent shifts in sports is driven by the integration of technology and data into the athlete experience, using sensors that conform to the body to capture data on key physiological functions. This talk will provide an overview of such technologies from an athlete’s point of view, with an emphasis on quantitative measurement of the force of impacts to the head that occur during contact sports. We will also describe post-practice head-and-neck cooling helmets that reduce secondary effects and improve the long-term outlook of head trauma victims.

Isaiah Kacyvenski holds a cum laude degree in environmental science and public policy from Harvard University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. After being named the Harvard University Male Athlete of the Year and becoming the highest draft pick in Harvard history, Isaiah played in the NFL for eight years, was elected Special Team Captain three years in a row and served in this role during Super Bowl XL. In 2011, he joined MC10, Inc., as the head of the sports segment. There he has contributed to the development of several different sports technologies, including the CHECKLIGHT--a head impact indicator launched commercially with Reebok in July of this year.

Kevin Jackson holds a Ph.D. in animal sciences from University of Illinois, and was a running back for the Illini from 1991-1994, during which time he compiled 904 total yards. He is currently a senior research scientist in the Thermal Neurosciences Laboratory (TNL) at the Beckman institute, directed by Dr. John Wang. His research explores temperature effects on brain function, and develops therapeutic treatments using selective cooling. One project, examines the benefits of a head-neck cooling liner for mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions in athletics. This post-cooling intervention could help mitigate both short and long term complications associated with head injuries.