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High school footballers wearing special helmets to monitor brain injuries
Date:9/27/2007

a baseline assessment for neurocognitive function prior to the start of the season.

The baseline assessments are all over the map, Broglio said. Because the kids brains are still developing, they have different ranges and abilities.

On the field during practice or on game day, when the encoder in an athletes helmet registers a hit, the system beams impact information to the sidelines laptop, which is monitored by the teams athletic trainer.

If an athlete is diagnosed with a concussion, he will not return to play until neurocognitive function returns to baseline performance, Broglio said.

The fact that high school athletes brains may not yet be as fully developed as their college or professional counterparts is a large part of Broglios motivation for studying the systems effectiveness on the younger players.

The U. of I. researcher noted in many high schools across the country its not unusual for players to take a forceful hit, sit out briefly, then return to play. And sometimes theyll even mask symptoms from coaches and trainers because they dont want to miss the action.

Unfortunately, Broglio said, what other researchers are finding is that people with multiple concussions have incurred Alzheimers Disease at a higher rate. Getting their bell rung as high school athletes may have permanent repercussions. There seems to be a link.

He noted that theres also some evidence in the literature that among high school athletes, the force of an impact may actually be less than it is with older players.

The main focus of Broglios continuing research is to sort it all out to determine how the younger players actually function on the field, and gather data that will ultimately protect and treat athletes who suffer concussive head injuries.

We will look at how hard and where they get hit, he said, adding that one possible outcome of the work may be determining the need to develop a different type of
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Contact: Melissa Mitchell
melissa@uiuc.edu
217-333-5491
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

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