UW-Stevens Point researchers study the effects of virtual reality on hockey playersSubmitted: 11/08/2019
Story By Ben Bokun

UW-Stevens Point researchers study the effects of virtual reality on hockey players
STEVENS POINT - Researchers want to know if virtual reality training translates to on-ice performance.

"It's going to simulate different drills and stuff that you can get on the ice without having to put them on the ice," said graduate student Jon Koth. "And it's mainly used to train the brain. It's not going to train something like the stick-handling skills."

UW-Stevens Point Associate Professor Beth Kinslow and Koth are part of the only research study in the United States that's checking to see if virtual reality (VR) hockey helps players in real life at the college level.

"Our long-term goals are really looking at injury prevention, return to play after injury and really diving into the concussions," said Kinslow.

Kinslow and Koth are using a system developed in the Czech Republic called Sense Arena. They're studying the VR effects on men's and women's hockey players three times a week.

"We want to see that they're getting quicker, more creative, better release timeā€¦ all that kind of stuff," said Koth.

According to the NCAA from 2009 to 2014, men's and women's ice hockey accounted for the second and third highest concussion rates out of all sports.

Kinslow and Koth hope VR can help decrease concussions.

"Since we have practice outside of the game itself, it's helped me to become mentally quicker," said sophomore UWSP hockey forward McKenna Butcher.

At the end of 11 weeks, researchers hope hockey players who use VR will enhance their skills. Butcher is one of the test subjects.

"If we can keep sports safer, we're gonna keep having young individuals who can reach their goals in a healthy, happy way," said Kinslow.

Kinslow hopes to have results at the start of 2020.

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