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New brain study could shed light on concussions
Troy Palomalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers says he's had 8 or 9 known concussions so far in his NFL career. Numbers like that have some parents second guessing signing up their children to play football.
Here in Nebraska a historic study is going on that could change the way we treat concussions.
"You hear the word 'concussion' and people are jumping all over it," said Urban Meyer
And, rightfully so.
According to reports by the CDC, visits for sports related traumatic brain injuries including concussions among children and adolescents have increased by 60 percent in the last decade.
"Even within the Big 10 we'll be looking at approximately 240 significant injuries in football alone that occur each year," said Dr. Dennis Molfese.
That has doctors like Molfese searching for answers.
Over the last two years he has started the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior at the University of Nebraska.
"What's always been missing is the fact that we didn't know what people were like before they had an injury," said Molfese.
But, that is changing.
Doctor Molfese along with some of the best minds in the country are putting their heads together to form a partnership between the Big 10 conference and the Ivy League to study the brain.
"Really for the first time in the entire world about how concussions really develop and whether in fact we really recover from them to what extent we recover from them," Molfese said.
Hundreds of athletes from different sports are volunteering to take part in a series of baseline tests on their brain at the start of the season.
But, the research doesn't stop there.
"Should they get injured then we can look at how their brains have changed, how their behavior has changed as a function of those injuries and then do a long term follow up at what point do they get back to normal," said Molfese.
Concussions in football may have garnered most of the attention.
But, the least talked about may be the most dangerous.
"The challenge with soccer is that the players don't rotate off the field so you have an athlete that goes up for a header and bumps heads with another players and they look wobbly, dazed and they don't come to the side," said UNL Director of Athletic Training Jeff Rudy.
"Field hockey, basketball. Not all the damage is due to the brain hitting the inside of the skull, sometimes the damage is due to the stretching connecting tissue," said Molfese.
To the fans and players the scoreboard is the final factor in determining a winner. But, the biggest victory yet maybe decided off the field.
Dr. Molfese added that the center for Brain, Biology, and Behavior has amazing pay off at the University.
Over 210 students will be training in basic neuro-imaging.
He hopes to use this data to help train athletes better, to help athletes learn the playbook faster, and assist in designing equipment that will better protect them.
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