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Purdue Neurotrauma Group Continues Research

A group of Purdue professors and students are working to make contact sports safe.

Posted: Apr. 1, 2018 9:22 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — The Purdue Neurotrauma Group has been working to reduce brain trauma in contact sports.

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"We've been working on this project for almost 10 years now and we've seen everything from changes in brain function to changes in brain structure," said Purdue professor Eric Nauman. "The changes are pretty dramatic."


Their research comes from actual high school athletes during contact sports. Professor Tom Talavage said their research is based of tangible evidence.

"Kids will take upwards of 1000 to 2000 hits during a course of a season," said Talavage. 

The team has discovered alarming statistics, including one glaring problem.

"Sometimes between 50 and 90 percent of a given team will exhibit really dramatic changes in their brain structure or function without showing really any obvious symptoms," said Nauman. 

An athlete can experience hundreds or even thousands of hits to the head with no symptoms.

"So until that pathway is completely broken, you seem fine," said Talavage. 

Talavage said most of the injuries are incurred before a concussion can be detected.

As the team continues its research, they aim to head trauma off at the source.

"We're trying to get to the point where we aren't having to track and see where they're being developed," said Talavage. "We're trying to make it so that they are unlikely to develop in the first place."

In the end, Nauman is optimistic about the team's research moving forward.

"Now its an engineering problem, we've proven that we can solve some really insane engineering problems and we can do it fast," said Nauman.

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