As part of National Science Week, we chat with PhD researcher Maria Madueno about how her research is helping professional athletes to reduce the risk of overuse injuries.
What is your research project about?
We’re observing the physical movements, internal responses (heart rate and feeling of training intensity), and sleep behaviour (sleep duration and sleep quality) and how these may be related to chronic injuries in professional basketball players.
What is the potential impact of your research?
Ultimately, we want to minimise overuse injuries by applying the data we collect directly into the field with coaching staff. We are hoping to identify measures that may increase/decrease the risk of a player sustaining an overuse injury. If we know this, then their training can be adjusted to minimise injury risk. Additionally, by examining sleep behaviour we may be able to see if some players aren’t sleeping well and they have the opportunity to see sleep practitioners so they can sleep better.
Have you always been interested in ‘science’?
Science has always fascinated me and I’ve always been drawn to science since I was kid. I’ve watched a lot of documentaries, loved conducting experiments and learning about the human body in high school. I’m not particularly drawn to physics, but I love biology and chemistry sciences.
If you weren’t a researcher, what would you be?
It’s hard to imagine myself doing anything else, but I think I would probably still be working with people in a health care setting, such as aged- or disability-care because I am an empathetic person and I enjoy helping others. When I was little I wanted to be vet, but I now know I would struggle saying goodbye to furry and feathery lives since having several pets of my own.
Finally, what advice would you give young, aspiring scientists?
I would say that motivation, work ethic, and finding an excellent role model is important, as you can be the smartest person in the world, but you may not be able to get anything done. Also, you don’t stop learning when you finish school, so it’s important to always be teachable, because it’s impossible to know everything.