Updated: Monday, 04 Oct 2010, 11:58 AM EDT
Published : Sunday, 03 Oct 2010, 6:34 PM EDT
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - New research released by Purdue indicates that football players can experience changes in the brain, even when they exhibit no outward signs of head injury.
"Changes in brain activity occur even without the classic symptoms of concussion," said Larry Leverenz, a Purdue clinical professor of kinesiology and athletic training expert.
This information is important because these players may continue to participate, not realizing that they have been affected.
"When you get hit in the head, clearly some level of force gets transferred into the brain. That's going to put some stress, mechanical stress, on the neural tissue, and that always has some risk of causing damage," said Tom Talavage, a functional neuroimaging expert and co-director of the Purdue MRI Facility.
The study is in its second year. This year 21 players from Lafayette Jefferson High School are being monitored through the season with sensor-filled helmets.
Subjects in the group are mixed: some have received concussions before, others haven't.
All players come in weekly to take tests to determine their cognitive abilities. Researchers can then determine if hits they have taken during the week have affected their brain function.
"We come in every week and do computer programs. It shows us a whole bunch of words and we try to memorize them. We have this test where we go through all the words and we have to answer 'Was this word in it or not?' And we have to answer yes or no," said Lafayette Jefferson quarterback Colin Bultink.
Bultink is a test subject and received a concussion last season. Bultink said he is happy to participate in a test that may help the future health of football players.
Researchers said they want to expand the research group size and eventually come up with a safer way for players to take hits.
"Clearly something is accumulating at the collegiate level, and possibly as early as high school. So we would like to find out what's causing that, and what than are the remedies that can be implemented to remedy that," said Talavage.