“Right now, the problem with concussions is that everybody is focused on after the fact,” says Bob Mangine, head football trainer for the University of Cincinnati. Instead, he’s advocating a preventative approach, and one that goes beyond increasing neck strength and helmet upgrades. It’s the same approach that has shown positive results in its five years of use at UC, where, unlike much of the country, the football program and athletic department are seeing fewer concussions. Mangine teamed up with Joseph Clark, UC professor of neurology, to be the first Division I program in the nation to use the Dynavision D2 vision training system to diagnose and rehabilitate concussions—as well as improve performance skills to prevent them—for all Bearcat football players.
So why exactly are these massive athletes smacking flashing buttons like a giant whack-a-mole game as they simultaneously call out colors and answers to math equations? The system tests, monitors, and improves visual and motor reaction times, symmetry, speed, functional peripheral vision, concentration, and more. Clark helps custom-program training sessions for different needs, positions, and individuals to train them to think quicker on their feet. “Bob and the coaches train the players to hit and take hits correctly, with the proper positioning,” says Clark. “I give players .1 or .2 extra seconds to make the decision of what to do—and they get that chance to do it better, faster, and smarter.” That extra split second can mean preventing a blow to the head or correcting shoddy technique. And if not—because this is still football—they believe the Dynavision D2 can help players rehabilitate and get back on the field faster. Advantage: UC.