A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Former Thomas More women’s basketball player pursuing career in sports medicine research

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Katie Kitchen had no background in sports medicine when she first joined a research team that was looking into preventing knee injuries in female athletes. Now she wants to make it her career.

Kitchen, 28, of Alexandria, has spent five years as a clinical research assistant in the Division of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She got the job one year after graduating from Thomas More College, where she earned degrees in communications and psychology.

Katie Kitchen

“I wasn’t quite sure the route I was going to take with all of this at first,” she said of sports medicine research. “But I had to study and really hone in to get my CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) and once I received that it kind of established an epiphany. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what’s gone on so far and I really want to stay with it.”

Kitchen played basketball at Thomas More. She managed to score more than 1,200 points during her career even though she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in one knee during her freshman season and suffered the same injury in her other knee two years later.

At that time, she was among a group of athletes who participated in an ACL injury study that was conducted by the hospital where she now works. That’s what sparked her interest in the field.

Over the last two months, the new coronavirus epidemic has affected Kitchen’s work much like it has for people in every profession.

“We can’t do any research because we need to be in person with our participants,” she said. “There’s still lots of things we’re able to work on, but nothing is face-to-face. We do zoom calls and things like that every week to make sure everybody is staying on the same page.”

Despite two knee injuries, Katie Kitchen scored more than 1,200 points as a member of the Thomas More women’s basketball team.

For the last three years, Kitchen has been working on a research study with high school female athletes involved in basketball, volleyball and soccer. An abstract of the study published on the PubMed.com website said it’s designed to “determine the efficacy of a real-time biofeedback system for altering knee biomechanics and brain functional connectivity.”

Kitchen’s primary role in the project is conducting strength and conditioning exercises that are designed to improve knee biomechanics. She also does individual training with female athletes who are no longer part of the research.

“A couple of the kids (in the study) I now train one-on-one because they enjoyed the group setting and felt there was a great improvement and wanted to continue on with it,” she said.

Another study that Kitchen has been involved with pertains to head collisions in contact sports. She helped compile data for research papers on how a compression collar worn around the neck can prevent or reduce concussions and other head injuries.

“We have completed a lot of research and now analysis is taking place,” she said. “We are seeing very groundbreaking results that the collar is very beneficial in helping to decrease the amount of force and rattling that your brain does over the course of a season.”

Two years ago, Kitchen returned to Thomas More to share her expertise as strength and conditioning coach for the women’s basketball team. The Saints won the 2019 NCAA Division III national championship in her first season back with the team.

“I know I’m always a part of the Thomas More family as an alumni, but I just think so much of coach (Jeff Hans) and the program it’s just nice to be able to give back,” she said. “It’s come full circle for me in a lot of ways and I thoroughly enjoy it.”

Related Posts

Leave a Comment