Kinesiology researchers at Delaware State University discovered a way of determining whether a person possesses a high risk for ankle injuries, a novel innovation that could lead to better athletic personnel decision-making and improved corrective measures being prescribed.

Chris Mason, chair of the Department of Public and Allied Health Sciences within DSU’s College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, said a collaboration between DSU neuroscience Ph.D. candidate and faculty member and the DSU chair was a perfect match due to shared backgrounds in kinesiology and neurophysiology and has led to the development of a new innovative analysis of the human body’s lower extremities.

The research revealed that the amount of work encumbered by the ankle muscles to maintain the body’s equilibrium can give an indication of whether a high risk of ankle injury exists.

The road to this neuromuscular revelation began with Von Homer and research he was doing at Barry University in Miami where he was a faculty member. Homer already had a terminal degree in orthotics and prosthetics and was a Barry faculty member where he was leading research to gain a better understanding of how balance in the human body is controlled.

The combination of an interested footwear materials company in the research and Homer’s decision to enroll in Delaware State University’s Neuroscience Ph.D. Program has led to the latest research findings in DSU’s Kinesiology Lab.

With some funding support from MatMarket and Homer’s move to DSU, his research found a home in the Kinesiology Lab, which also served to accommodate his dissertation research.

The research at DSU expanded to investigate how orthotics influence balance and to find out how effective they are in preventing injury and providing additional ankle support.

Upon finding a correlation between the use of orthotics and the prevention of injury, the research then shifted to the question of what could be learned about the neuromuscular system that would indicate the mechanical cause of ankle injury.

Through the use of electromyography and postural control assessment, the Homer-inspired research efforts began analyzing the electrical activity of engaged ankle muscles, using more than 300 subjects that ranged from DSU athletics from a variety of sports, as well as professional athletes from the NBA, NFL and MLB.

In tests that analyzed the muscle contractions during the simulation of functional sports movement, the research revealed that the amount of electrical activity displayed in a particular muscle during acts of balancing indicated the level of risk for sustaining an ankle injury.

The resulting innovation has been trademarked as the “Homer Technique.”

Mason said the results of the research put DSU ahead of the game in this area.

Homer said this innovation could open up some new and potentially profitable possibilities for the university.