What if radar could help track recovery from an ACL injury?

That’s the question behind a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to a team of researchers from Penn State and Lebanon Valley College.

Scientists from Penn State Health, Penn State Engineering, and Lebanon Valley College will investigate ways to identify post-recovery injury risks using novel micro-Doppler radar technology developed by Penn State professor Dr. Ram Narayanan.

ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament. ACL injuries can prevent military personnel from fulfilling crucial duties, and reinjury can easily occur even with rehabilitation, hence the military’s interest in more data-driven and effective techniques.

Joining the Penn State contingent from the medical campus in Hershey are Dr. Cayce Onks, assistant professor of Family and Community Medicine and Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Dr. Jennifer Nyland, assistant professor in the Department of Neural and Behavioral Sciences, and Dr. Shouhao Zhou, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences.

For LVC, Dr. Robert Creath is associate professor of exercise science and director of LVC’s Lewis Human Performance Lab.

Narayanan and other colleagues and students from Penn State Engineering will mount the radar apparatus in LVC’s Lewis Human Performance Lab.

Creath will mentor graduate research assistants Veronica Venezia ’21 (M’23) and Alex Wiggins ’22 (M’24), who will collect and analyze data via the Lewis Lab.

“The educational component of this project is of primary importance because it presents significant learning opportunities for LVC students to engage in cutting-edge, federally funded biomedical research and collaborate with experienced research scientists,” said Creath in a press release.

“Students will be involved in collection, processing, and analysis of data, and then disseminate the results through publications and presentations at scientific conferences,” he said.

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