Alumna Shelby Baez recognized for her outstanding contributions to injury rehabilitation

Shelby Baez, PhD, a UK College of Health Sciences alumna who received her Master’s in Athletic Training in 2016 and her PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences in 2019, was awarded the Doctoral Dissertation Award from the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) for her outstanding contributions to injury rehabilitation research. 

Upon her 2019 graduation, Baez was hired as an assistant professor of kinesiology at Michigan State University where she is also the director of MSU’s Behavioral Research and Athletic Injury Neuroscience (BRAIN) Lab. As the lab’s director, she investigates cognitive changes in people who have experienced a sports related injury.

“My main interest is in how fear and confidence impact a patient’s recovery time,” she said.  

Baez’s research found sports injuries are damaging both physically and mentally.  “Psychological factors, injury related fear, and belief in our abilities greatly determine an athlete’s return to sport,” she said. “If a recovered athlete doesn’t believe they can accomplish a physical task it’s highly likely they won’t.”

“Shelby’s work is timely and has, and will continue to have, a large impact on how we provide patient-centered care that addresses the patient’s physical and psychological needs to return to physical activity after injury," said Johanna Hoch, PhD, ATC, program director of the professional master's in athletic training and Baez's former mentor. "This award is well deserved. It is a testament to her work as a doctoral student and her dedication to ensuring health and happiness for our future patients.”

The Doctoral Dissertation Award attracts applicants from across the globe. “It’s incredibly humbling to receive this award,” Baez said. “I was honestly shocked to be selected because there are so many word-class researchers who apply.”

“I loved that that the award committee was interested in addressing athletic injuries,” she continued. “It’s an area that is overlooked quite often.”

Baez believes her time at the College of Health Sciences was crucial to receiving this award. “I would not have come this far without the support of CHS faculty and staff,” she said. “I always had an extremely strong support system around me which is a big reason for my success.”