PhD candidate Katherine Hunzinger tells us about how she got into concussion research and her current project:

I am a third year Biomechanics and Movement Sciences doctoral student, co-advised by Dr. Buckley and Dr. Buz Swanik, PhD, ATC. I completed my bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology at Northern Illinois University where I was a member of the Women’s Rugby team which has spurred my current interests in rugby and concussions. I went on to pursue a Master’s in Health and Exercise Science at Wake Forest University under the advisement of Dr. Stephen Messier. Following graduation, I worked full time for Dr. Messier’s multiple randomized controlled trials as a clinical research interventionist working with runners and individuals with knee osteoarthritis while working PRN as a clinical exercise physiologist. After suffering from persistent concussion symptoms from a motor vehicle accident resulting in my retirement from rugby, my research interests shifted from knee osteoarthritis to concussions.

That led me to the University of Delaware Concussion Research Laboratory which is directed by Thomas A. Buckley, EdD, ATC, an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology & Applied Physiology. The lab’s research aims are twofold: 1) concussion and musculoskeletal injuries (e.g., the consequences of persistent deficits post-concussion); 2) repetitive head impacts/age of first exposure to collision/contact sports and neurological health outcomes. Dr. Buckley is a site co-PI for the NCAA/DoD CARE Consortium Project and has also received funding from the National Institute of Health/Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Office of Naval Research, and the Army Research Office. Dr. Buckley and his collaborators have published extensively on the effects of concussion on gait, the effects of concussion on subsequent injury, and the effects of age of first exposure on health outcomes. (Buckley Google Scholar)

Through my background as a former rugby player, current referee, and World Rugby Educator for USA Rugby paired with my research interests in concussions, I have been able design a unique rugby specific dissertation to align with the interest of the lab. Particularly, my dissertation focuses on the relationship between concussion and musculoskeletal injury in community rugby players (Article Link), the effects of age of first exposure on patient reported outcomes among rugby players, and the chronic effects of prolonged repetitive head impact exposure into adulthood on gait and neurological functioning in former rugby players. The overarching goal of my dissertation is to investigate the potential the benefits of rugby participation on quality of life in community rugby players compared to members of the general population, but also to inform policy and law implementation regarding concussion and concussion management in club rugby as these teams typically lack an assigned sports medicine provider. (For more on Katherines work check out: Hunzinger Google Scholar)

Author Information

Dr Alan Godfrey

Wearable systems, Health informatics


Dr Alan Godfrey

Alan's major research is in algorithms for data science and analytics in healthcare. This includes areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining and multidimensional signal processing.