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ASU football program is first collegiate partner in TGen-Riddell concussion detection study

TEMPE, Ariz. and ROSEMONT, Ill. September 12, 2013 Riddell, the leader in football helmet technology and innovation, today announced that the Pac-12's Arizona State University and its Sun Devil football program will participate as the first university research partner in a new study designed to advance athlete concussion detection and treatment. This potentially groundbreaking joint research project is the first of its kind to combine molecular information with the monitoring of head impacts.

Working with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and its research partners, the Sun Devil football team will participate in the study to identify whether the effects of sub-concussive hits are identifiable through blood-based molecular information. The researchers will monitor the players' changing molecular information throughout a season of typical head impact exposure associated with football practice and games.

The Riddell Sideline Response System (SRS) has been deployed for use at Arizona State University for the 2013 college football season to obtain real-time head impact data from Sun Devil football players. Information gathered from the system will be combined with molecular information from players that experience concussion, with the objective of helping physicians diagnose concussion and better identify when a player might be expected to recover and return to the field. TGen and Riddell announced their research collaboration in May.

Today's football is played with ever-increasing levels of speed, strength and overall performance, with an unrelenting demand for cutting-edge protection to match. Elite players turn to Riddell for its advanced equipment that allows for the highest level of performance, while providing that same level of protection when it matters most on game day.

"Our goal is to be leaders in the community, on and off the field, and partnering with industry pioneers like Riddell and TGen enables us to be proactive in helping to advance the game and enrich the lives of our student-athletes," said Steve Patterson, Vice President for Sun Devil Athletics. "Involvement in this study is consistent with our long-term goals, and also increases awareness and understanding of this important topic, as well as furthers the Pac-12's Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative."

The Sun Devils' medical team, consisting of athletic trainers and physicians, will not see the data or interpret any results until the end of the season, and the student-athletes wearing the Riddell SRS sensors in their helmets volunteered to partake in the study.

At the heart of the study is merging a player's molecular information with real-time head impact information captured by Riddell's exclusive SRS technology. Riddell, in partnership with Simbex, LLC, was the first to introduce a helmet-based player monitoring and response system to the sport of football. The data output provides researchers, athletic staff and players with a wide range of valuable information transmitted directly to the sidelines via wireless communication on the frequency and severity of head impacts a player receives during games and practices. Riddell SRS has captured over 1.8 million impacts from youth to elite football competition since instituted in 2003 by several well-respected research institutions, leading to important rule changes and informing new helmet designs.

With the high expectations for the Sun Devil football team this year, Arizona State's implementation of Riddell SRS reinforces the school's commitment to their student athletes' well-being and helps to ensure they're performing at the optimal level.

"Together with Arizona State University, TGen and our other important research partners, we at Riddell hope to answer a number of key questions that will lead to improved player protection, inform our continued development of new helmet innovations and further refine player monitoring technology," said Dan Arment, President of Riddell.

Among those questions is whether the effects of sub-concussive hits are identifiable through blood-based molecular information that could unlock new opportunities for innovation and advancement of the game. Researchers at TGen, along with their colleagues, hope to find the answers in the data.

During this phase of the study, TGen faculty and staff have been on the sidelines working closely with their colleagues at Barrow Neurological Institute, A.T. Still University and Desert Testing collecting samples and data.

A baseline sample was collected from all participating players prior to their pre-season workouts. Since then, the researchers have followed the team through their daily workouts and will continue throughout the season, securing samples the day after each practice or game. Through the collection of samples over various points in time and the data generated by Riddell SRS, the goal is to identify the genomic changes in athletes exposed to routine head impacts during practice and games, athletes with diagnosed concussions that recover on both a routine time scale, and athletes with persistent symptoms following concussion that require additional treatment.

"There is no time to waste in bridging the information gathered through Riddell SRS and the genomic information we will gather to hopefully glean a clearer picture of how concussions impact human neurological function in terms of injury, recovery and future risk for long term complications. We are indeed excited to join the ASU football program and Riddell in this pioneering study," said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen President and Research Director.

Following the season long campaign, the researchers will gather post-season baseline data and begin the analysis process with their colleagues at Barrow Neurological Institute and A.T. Still University. During this process, TGen will work closely with Barrow, whose B.R.A.I.N.S. (Barrow Resource for Acquired Injury to the Nervous System) program treats patients who have sustained a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury. The Barrow data will provide the researchers with additional concussion data and allow for comparison between data sets.


Contact: Steve Yozwiak
The Translational Genomics Research Institute

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