SI.com is reporting on an intriguing new study being done on NCAA athletes in contact sports by a group called the National Sports Concussion Outcome Study, which will conduct long-term studies on the effects of brain trauma in athletes like never before. Using monitors in helmets, as well as other tools such as the possibility of a mouth guard that will measure impact in the case of sports, like soccer, that do not utilize helmets.
Dr. Chris Giza, who specializes in neurology at UCLA, has teamed up with professionals across the country to form the National Sports Concussion Outcome Study (NSCOS) to examine the long-term effects of contact on athletes. Giza and his colleagues are looking at the effects of concussions, but also at the impact of all biomechanical force applied to an athlete. Giza said that any type of registered biomechanical force — force applied to the body that registers in the brain — can affect the brain’s ability to function. “There have been a lot of studies that have suggested that even if an athlete doesn’t get a lot of symptoms indicating a concussion, or maybe they don’t report them or feel them, there is still a biomechanical force to the brain, and some people in the field have termed it sub-concussive injury,” Giza said.
There has yet to be a definitive study about the long-term effects of concussions and biomechanical forces on athletes. Millions of people play sports at all levels — most Americans play sports as teenagers — yet the true risk of contact sports over time remains uncertain. Giza and his team started NSCOS to follow athletes through their sports careers and beyond in order to gauge what exactly happens to an athlete’s brain after years of contact.
The hope is that in collecting data from such a wide period of time, and based not only upon reported head injuries but ones that have been measured which may not have been detected, that new rules and technology will be developed in order to make contact sports significantly safer for the athletes that participate.
For more on head injuries and post-NFL downfalls, watch Three Former NFL Stars Debate on HuffPo Live.
AP photo/Mark J Terrill