A pilot program is underway with plans to expand statewide.
HALL COUNTY, Ga. — Emory researchers and local high school students are teaming up to bring a virtual reality training program to student-athletes in Georgia.
The newly launched Georgia Initiative for Virtual Reality, Education and Sport (GIVES) program brings together VR technology and expertise from the team of the Emory Sports Performance and Research Center.
The VR simulations measure athletes’ reaction time, trajectory, accuracy, and other data points, which researchers analyze to help support training, injury prevention, and whether an athlete can return to play post-injury.
“What’s most exciting is as researchers, we’re now starting to take two decades of research discovery that’s normally confined to million dollar laboratories or professional athletes,” Dr. Greg Myer, professor of orthopedics and the director of the Emory Sports Performance and Research Center at Emory University, said. “Now we’re disseminating that and getting it in the hands of youth athletes and coaches so we can really make a difference on injury prevention, but athlete performance as well, because that’s what they care about.”
The initiative, which is currently in the pilot phase in Hall County, launched in part to a $4.5 million grant from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. Myer said the foundation’s support offers an exciting chance to not only expand statewide but also to reach underserved communities that already suffer from healthcare disparities.
“Now we’re going to prevent and cut that injury off at the pass and actually try to prevent it and help these athletes across the state,” Myer added.
Students from Flowery Branch, West Hall and Cherokee Bluff high schools are currently participating through the county’s work-based learning program. Once trained, the students will be part of the outreach team Myer said will deploy to other metro schools, helping their peers utilize the technology.
“They’re really become our secret approach to making this successful,” Myer said.
To learn more, visit GIVES and/or Emory SPARC.