Research group looks to decrease sport concussions

Researchers at Purdue University are looking into ways to make the game safer.

Posted: Jul. 25, 2018 6:20 PM
Updated: Jul. 26, 2018 7:05 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Football season is just a few weeks away from kickoff. With the start of the football season comes a greater risk of head injuries for players.

A study by the NCAA found that over 7% of injuries were concussions over a 4 year span. The Purdue Neurotrauma Group is looking into ways to minimize that number. 

Purdue Professor of Mechanical Engineering Eric Nauman hopes their research will create a new push for safety. "Whether it is new equipment, new treatment methods, we're actually working on a lot of detection algorithms, whatever it is that needs to happen to make sports safer, that's the direction we're heading," said Nauman.

The team's target is to identify the mechanisms that lead to traumatic head injuries. Tom Talavage, Professor of Computer and Electrical Engineering at Purdue University is part of the team. 

He believes proper recovery time is essential to mitigate further brain damage. "What we have found with our athletes is those who have gone through a season, particularly those who have taken a large number of blows, it will generally be about 3 to 5 months after the season before their brain has recovered back to where it looked like before the season began," said Talavage.

Nauman compared concussions to a faulty airplane. "If you have problems in an airplane, all the triple redundant systems have failed, and when you do have problems, then they're big problems," he said.

And with continuous head collisions, the damage is comparable to a car accident.
"One full season of football, even 5 months out, has led to enough change in your brain that you would look comprable to someone who was just involved in a very violent car accident," said Talavage.

Evidence shows inadequate time off after a head injury can cause lasting effects, such as limiting brain development.
The group believes innovation is key for the future of player safety.
"We know we can make better helmets. The helmets really haven't evolved much over the past 20 years."

For now, the two say the best way to minimize the risk is to limit unnecessary contact during practice and adding safer equipment.

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