Research Feature: Sarah Charnock

Sarah Charnock is a 4th year kinesiology student from Newmarket, Ontario. She has spent her time at Acadia actively participating in various kinesiology programs as well as in the wider Acadia and Wolfville Community. She is a volunteer with the Cardiac Rehab and SMILE programs, the president of the Acadia Kinesiology Society, a varsity soccer athlete, and a Sport Injury Assessment and Management program (SIAM) student that works with the varsity volleyball and soccer teams. She is also a Fast and Female ambassador, a leader for Girls on Boards, and has volunteered time with Brigadoon Village and Camp Triumph, camps for children who suffer from or whose close family members suffer from chronic illness. A dean’s list scholar and 3x academic all-Canadian, Sarah was also named an All-Star this season and brought the AUS student athlete community service award home.

As an avid multi-sport athlete growing up, Sarah has personally experienced various sport-related injuries and became interested in rehabilitation. She volunteered for four years at a spinal cord injury recovery center and has a particular interest in neurological rehab. With a growing interest in sport injury management and the newly enacted Rowan’s Law in Ontario, her interest was piqued, and she is now studying arguably one of the most complex injuries to manage in sport. She has had to manage many concussions and feels strongly that education around this injury has improved; however, there are still many in Nova Scotia who are unaware of how to identify a concussion, of the severity of this injury, and how they can be effectively managed. Upon graduation, Sarah plans to pursue the opportunity to continue to be an athlete abroad and hopes to one day become a physician.

Sarah’s honours research focuses on uncovering barriers to effective (sports-related) concussion management in Nova Scotia. A significant number of concussions occur in sport at every level and awareness has begun to increase. That being said, many are still unsure what steps they should be taking while recovering from a concussion. The issues seem to range from lack of training in health care providers to various pressures faced by athletes that cause underreporting. This study will further explore what barriers athletes perceive in NS as well as the issues that health care providers see that might prevent athletes from having an ideal rehabilitation experience after a sport-related concussion. Sarah had numerous varsity and club level athletes complete her questionnaire and interviewed 10 athletes to find out more about their experiences with concussions. She wanted to look at this issue from multiple perspectives, so she also had various health care providers complete the questionnaire and did 10 more interviews with various therapists. Upon completion of the study, it is her hope to create a tool for health care providers to use to address the issues uncovered in the questionnaires and interviews. She has begun working on this project under the direction of Dr. Colin King and they will be recruiting the assistance of another undergraduate student, Erin Coughlan, as well as a marketing firm to create a tool that might make managing concussions simpler for those in this province.