There have been many injuries over the last twenty years or so that have garnered more attention, and dare we say, gained in popularity. The dreaded Jones foot fracture in basketball and football is one, and it seems like baseball pitchers are requiring Tommy John surgery more than ever. Despite these ailments, there is one singular injury that has been focused on the most since the turn of the century; concussions. Concussions have been the focus of lawsuits, movies and blue tents in the NFL. We’ve learned about the severity of concussions and the type of long term damage they can cause, and the NCAA is taking the next step to learn more about these traumatic head injuries.
Partnering with the U.S. Department of Defense, the NCAA received a $25 million grant from the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium, via the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command. It’s an enormous contribution that will allow the NCAA to track athletes who have suffered concussions for a minimum for 10 years to analyze how they progress in life. This funding will also be used to study similar ailments suffered by members of the military.
The study considers concussions suffered by men and women in 24 different sports, which is an impressive sample size that could glean interesting findings across gender.
“Identifying the neurobiological pathways that possibly contribute to long-term negative consequences of concussion and repetitive head impacts is critical for the development of early interventions and strategies in athletes and service academies who are at risk,” said NCAA Chief Medical Office Brian Hainline, MD. Via NCAA.org
This issue is extremely personal for a lot of people, but perhaps not more so than for Dr. Paul Pasquina. He’s a co-lead in the next phase of the project, and in addition to his medical background, Pasquina also can personally relate to the danger concussions can pose on the field.
“As a former member of West Point’s varsity football team, where I sustained several concussions, my interest in this study is both personal and professional. There remain a number of unanswered questions surrounding concussion and head impact exposure that we hope to be able to help answer through this study,” he said. Via Health.mil
It may be overly enthusiastic to think that concussions, or handling of them on the college and professional levels, will be perfect in a decade’s time. However, by funneling as many research resources as this grant will allow, it should help pave the way for additional, valuable insights to take place in the next ten years.