Prof. Paul Cacolice and alumna Megan Nye '18 publish article in professional journal

Westfield State University research, into how using mild jugular compression collars could prevent brain damage in high school ice hockey and football athletes, was recently published in the April 2021 issue of the International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training (IJATT).

Paul Cacolice, Ph.D., assistant professor of movement science, sport, and leisure studies at Westfield State; and 2018 graduate Megan Nye conducted the research and wrote the article—“Mild Jugular Vein Compression Decreases Brain Tissue Changes in High School-aged Males Playing Collision Sports”—which is a based on Nye’s senior project on athletic training.

Cacolice explained that this investigation is the first critical analysis to attempt a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of this new, proposed concussion-preventing device: a device modeled from a strategy seen in woodpeckers. He believes that a challenge to all patient-facing clinicians is to offer educated counsel, which requires a broad, and yet thorough understanding of prevention and care strategies for various body systems and for many different activities. Some of these strategies may still be in development or have only recently been released to the market.

“What makes this more challenging for certified athletic trainers is that we are considered reliable sources of information by injured or ill patients, but also uninjured student-athletes, coaches, institution administrators, and parents,” he explained.

Cacolice and Nye’s investigation aims to provide just that for certified athletic trainers, or certified athletic therapists, as they are called in Canada. The article synthesizes the recent literature on a proposed sport-related concussion prevention strategy: increasing blood volume and pressure in the cranium.

Leading up to the IJATT publication, Nye’s project was featured at both the Connecticut Athletic Trainers Association state meeting and the 2019 Eastern Athletic Trainers’ Association Clinical Symposium.

“It has been a great journey with Megan on this investigation through her Senior Symposium presentation, through the Westfield State Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, and through the University’s Pathways to Excellence event,” said Cacolice. “Her acceptance as a finalist for undergraduate student clinical research at two of our profession’s flagship conferences was a unique experience for both of us.”

Cacolice explained an “incredible sense of accomplishment” that he and Nye experienced after learning that their manuscript was accepted for a peer-reviewed, professional journal.

“I am very proud of the work that Dr. Cacolice and I produced and I am so thankful for the mentorship he provided me,” said Nye.

Nye, now a graduate student at the University of Connecticut, believes that the Westfield State athletic training program prepared her “very well” for her graduate degree.

“From a professor’s viewpoint, to see a student embrace a learning experience enough that they continue to work on it after the course and after graduation is incredibly rewarding,” said Cacolice.