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Football findings suggest concussions caused by series of hits


Findings, detailed in a paper to appear online in the Journal of Biomechanics, are contrary to conventional thinking.

"Most clinicians would say that if you don't have any concussion symptoms you have no problems," said Larry Leverenz, an expert in athletic training and a clinical professor of health and kinesiology. "However, we are finding that there is actually a lot of change, even when you don't have symptoms."

The paper was written by mechanical engineering graduate student Evan Breedlove, Nauman, Leverenz, Talavage, former Purdue professor of educational studies Jeffrey Gilger, biomedical engineering graduate student Meghan Robinson, health and kinesiology graduate student Katherine E. Morigaki, electrical and computer engineering graduate student Umit Yoruk, mechanical engineering undergraduate student Kyle O'Keefe, and undergraduate student in electrical and computer engineering Jeffrey King. Gilger is now a researcher at the University of California, Merced.

The 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.

"Any change in fMRI data is a concern, but we don't yet know what these changes mean, what they translate to, in terms of cognitive impairment," Breedlove said.

A common assumption in sports medicine is that certain people are innately more susceptible to head injury. However, the new findings suggest the number of hits received during the course of a season is the most important factor, Talavage said.

"Over the two seasons we had six concussed players, but 17 of the players showed brain changes even though they did not have concussions," Talavage said. "There is good correlation with the number of hits players received, but we need more subjects."

The researchers have expanded the study to include an additional high school football team and g

Contact: Emil Venere
Purdue University

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