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Brain changes found in football players thought to be concussion-free

ange," Nauman said. "These data provide an opportunity to accurately track both the initial changes as well as the recovery in cognitive performance."

The ongoing research may help to determine how many blows it takes to cause impairment, which could lead to safety guidelines on limiting the number of hits a player receives per week.

"We're not yet sure exactly how many hits this is, but it's probably around 50 or 60 per week, which is not uncommon," Nauman said. "We've had kids who took 1,600 impacts during a season."

The research paper was written by Nauman, Leverenz, Talavage, Katie Morigaki, a graduate student in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, biomedical engineering graduate student Evan Breedlove, mechanical engineering graduate student Anne Dye, electrical and computer engineering graduate student Umit Yoruk, and Henry Feuer, a physician and neurosurgeon in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Feuer is a neurosurgical consultant to the National Football League's Indianapolis Colts and a member of NFL subcommittees assessing the effects of mild traumatic brain injury.

The researchers studied the football players last season and are continuing the work this season.

The helmet-sensor data demonstrated that undiagnosed players who didn't show impairment received blows in many areas of the head, but the undiagnosed players who showed impairment received a large number of blows primarily to the top and front. This part of the brain is involved in "working memory," including visual working memory, a form of short-term memory for recalling shapes and visual arrangement of objects such as the placement of furniture in a room, Nauman said.

"These are kids who put their head down and take blow after blow to the top of the head," said Nauman, who also is an associate professor of biomedical engineering and basic medical sciences and leads Purdue's Human Injury

Contact: Emil Venere
Purdue University

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