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New Long-Term Brain Injury Study Underway Following NCAA Grant

Market Watch published this week on the details of a new traumatic brain injury study that is just getting underway at the University of Michigan. The effort targets injuries suffering by student athletes and is being funded by the NCAA. Our Illinois brain injury lawyers have previously shared information about the lawsuits that have been filed over the last pair of years against the collegiate athletic body. The NCAA suits are similar to those filed against the National Football League alleging that players suffered lifelong damage as a result of the league’s failure to warn of danger and take appropriate action to limit them.

Seemingly in an effort to expand knowledge on these issues that will one day help keep college players safe, the NCAA offered the researchers a grant in an effort to produce an “unprecedented” study on sports concussions. The effort will be a long-term one that will track involved participants over a prolonged period of time. Unlike short-term studies, these efforts usually track a growing group of athletes and for years in order to get legitimate data that shows the potential long-term effect of certain injuries. According to the report, the NCAA will provide $400,000 to start the effort which will be led by the National Sport Concussion Outcomes Study Consortium.

The Consortium hopes to include more than 1,000 athletes who participate in eleven different sports at three schools. The sports include football, soccer, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, water polo, and field hockey. A few non-contact athletes will also be measured including those participating in track, swimming, and diving. Those athletes will then be tracked throughout their lifetime to get an idea of how their lives might be affected by the head injuries. If all goes well, researchers are actually hoping to expand the effort down the road to begin tracing more athletes and at an earlier age (in high school). In that way, involved researchers hope to mimic a groundbreaking effort on the long-term effects of heart disease the revolutionized the way experts thought about cardiovascular risks-the “Framingham heart study.”

The members of the Consortium which will be leading this longitudinal study explain that there is not currently much hard data on the long-term effects of these injuries. A large reason for that is that it simply takes time for research efforts to produce clear results that track athletes over a long period of time. Right now researchers have many case reports, but little controlled studies that measure brain function over time while controlling for other variables.

Our Chicago brain injury lawyers appreciate that we hopefully sit at the precipice of a wave of new brain injury findings. In many ways nationwide attention on these issues has only occurred in the recent past. Many research efforts initiated in the wake of that attention have yet to yield results. It is only a matter of time before more of these studies bear fruit and yield important, new information about how to better prevent and treat these injuries. It is crucial for those in a position to take advantage of these new research findings to do just that.

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