Jack Hickey wins 2018 ESSA Medal

ACU’s Jack Hickey has been awarded the prestigious 2018 Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) medal for his ground-breaking work in hamstring injury.

The ESSA medal is awarded annually to the most outstanding PhD thesis in the field of exercise and sport science.

Dr Hickey, a lecturer in the School of Behavioural and Health Sciences, was recognised for his PhD thesis which involved a series of studies focused on hamstring strain injury rehabilitation.

Hamstring strain injury remains the biggest cause of time lost from competition in AFL and many other high-profile sports including soccer, rugby and cricket.

Dr Hickey’s work with the Hamstring Injury Group at ACU is changing how we manage these common injuries.

“We found that it may not be necessary to completely avoid pain during hamstring injury rehabilitation and that exercises can be progressed much earlier in rehabilitation than previously thought,” Dr Hickey said.

“This research is important to the field of exercise and sports science as it emphasises an exercise-specific approach to rehabilitation and challenges long-held beliefs about pain avoidance following acute muscle injury.  

“For me, the most important thing is that people working in the field can take that research and apply it in their regular clinical practice.”

He said being awarded the ESSA medal was a “bit of a shock” and a very humbling honour.

“It is really nice to be acknowledged for the work you put in as a PhD student because it is a journey that you dedicate three years of your life to,” Dr Hickey said.

“As challenging as it was, it was also really good fun to explore an idea that I was really interested in with a great team of researchers supporting me.

“This research is the result of a team effort and is testament to the awesome contributions of my PhD supervisors and research collaborators. I’d particularly like to thank my primary PhD supervisor, Dr David Opar for his guidance and of course my friends and family for supporting me.”

Since completing his PhD last year, Dr Hickey has joined ACU full-time and now teaches into the Masters of Clinical Exercise Physiology and is the course coordinator of the new Graduate Certificate for Exercise Rehabilitation for Sports Injuries.

Dr Hickey's PhD research was lauded by the ESSA assessing panel for its “strong, real-world implications”.

He will receive his award at the 2019 ESSA Innovation and Practice Forum in Melbourne in May. ESSA is a professional body committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career path of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.


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