From passion to invention: professor develops breakthrough study to aid in concussion testing

Taylor Crumley, Staff Reporter

A study that examined over 10,000 male and female athletes ages 8 to 21 and was published in the Journal of Athletic Training is helping concussion detection in athletics become more advanced.

The study is titled “Normative Data for the BTrackS Balance Test Concussion-Management Tool: Results from 10 045 Athletes Aged 8 to 21 Years.” It was published by Dr. Daniel J. Goble, an assistant professor of exercise science at Oakland University.

The study focuses on using Goble’s invention, called the Balance Tracking System (BTrackS), collecting anonymous normative data from thousands of users to be able to do concussion balance testing.

“BTrackS is a force plate you stand on that measures your balance based on how much you sway,” Goble said. “The idea for this work just came from learning how poor the balance testing being utilized in the field of sport medicine is and how they could benefit from an objective, affordable and portable tool to get results.”

As a multi-sport athlete growing up, he became interested in the movement of the human body and athlete performance. His passion has led him to now have the largest database of athlete balance results ever published.

His career started out in hopes of pursuing a career in physical therapy, but three weeks into the masters program, he realized that physical therapy wasn’t for him. He was more interested in logic and research, which led him to exercise science.

“My teaching is a blend of neurophysiology and biomechanics,” Goble said.

Goble is a sixth-generation teacher and finds teaching comes very naturally to him. He loves integrating modern technology into his teaching methods and uses things like social media and YouTube videos to help his students learn.

BTrackS is an inexpensive and more accurate alternative to other methods of balance testing that have been used in the past. It uses objective methods of measuring postural sway, or how balanced the body is when standing still.

“Concussion assessment is often lacking due to poor testing methods that may be practical to employ in the field, but have poor sensitivity for concussion,” Goble said. “In the case of balance, estimates show 85 percent of athletic trainers rely on subjective, visual balance testing rather than a medical device like BTrackS.”

According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 50 percent of concussions go undetected or unreported. The severity of concussions can widely range from case to case, so there is no set time table for recovery.

“Concussions affect millions of people worldwide and despite our best efforts are still on the rise due to better awareness of the signs and symptoms,” Goble said. “My results help improve the health and well-being of individuals across the world every day.”

To learn more about the BTrackS and its benefits, watch the newscast about in on the BTrackS YouTube page. For more information on Dr. Goble, check out his interview with OUTV.

“The work I do here at Oakland University couldn’t be done without the assistance of my student researchers, colleagues and upper administration,” Goble said. “It’s truly a team effort.”