Concussions

A recent national poll found that support is on the rise for banning youth from playing contact football before they reach high school.

Robert Morris University Polling Institute and the Center for Research and Public Policy conducted the same poll in 2013 and 2014, asking participants if they would support or oppose a ban on youth playing contact football.

MGoBlog / Flickr

Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge, who disappeared last Wednesday, was found Sunday in a trash bin, the victim of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Research has shown that football players are three times more likely to develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which can leave its victims depressed, disoriented and suicidal. We'll talk with Ohio Public Radio reporter Andy Chow, who has been following the story.

And in the wake of the death of Karageorge, we focus on the link between suicide and concussions with Erin Reynolds, a doctor in neuropsychology for the UPMC Sports Medicine and Concussion Program.

Could college football programs be more proactive when it comes to helping players who are dealing with concussion issues? What are some of the behavioral signs?

For parents, coaches, and athletes  Dr. Reynolds recommends the new website ReThink Concussions for information on diagnosis, management and rehabilitation.

HeadSmart Labs Works to Lower Concussions in Football

Sep 29, 2014
HeadSmart Labs

Carnegie Mellon mechanical engineering student Tom Healy has been a punter for the Tartans throughout his college career. He’s seen many of his teammates sustain concussions while playing. With the help of some of the top names in concussion research Healy founded HeadSmart Labs, an independent research company that develops testing devices, products and procedures for reducing concussions.

Tom Healy talks about the discoveries HeadSmart has made so far and the impact they’re making in the sports equipment industries.

New helmets, devices and regulations are coming out increasingly as people learn more about the severity of concussions, and as part of the trend UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh have been working together to study the effectiveness of a new concussion screening tool. 

Text messaging can serve a variety of purposes, from casually chatting with friends to ordering a pizza, but what about monitoring concussion symptoms?

Some, like researcher Stephanie Huang think it could be a tool for providing more personalized health care.

Thanks to a grant from the Pittsburgh Emergency Medicine Foundation, the first-year student from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is coming to Pittsburgh to see if texting is a more effective way of getting patients to monitor their own concussion treatments.

From major league athletes to children, more than 1.7 million Americans sustain concussions each year.

That’s why the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC received a $300,000 grant from General Electric and the NFL for a project to find a better way to “see” concussions.

The Pitt researchers are testing high definition fiber-tracking (HDFT) to determine if it can accurately and consistently aid in determining a diagnosis of concussion and injury prognosis.

Banning Contact Sports for Young Players

Nov 18, 2013
Bob Dvorchak / Sports n'at

Robert Morris University recently reported that nearly half of all Americans say they would favor a ban on contact football for kids that have not yet entered middle school.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports writer emeritus, Bob Dvorchak said on Essential Pittsburgh, “I think it speaks to the heightened awareness of head injuries on all levels of sports and especially youth sports.”

Nearly half of all Americans say they would favor a ban on contact in youth football among kids that have not yet entered middle school. The 47.6 percent number comes from a recent survey released Thursday by Robert Morris University.

That number falls to 40.5 percent when the age is increased to high school. 

Among males who played football in their youth, the percentage slips to 44.3 for a ban prior to middle school and 38.2 for a ban prior to high school.

Innovative Concussion Evaluation Technology

Sep 25, 2013
GENuine 1986 / Flickr

According to the Center for Disease Control, almost 2 million people each year suffer from concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.

In the sports world, concussions have been in the limelight as athletes come forward with reports of lasting affects from the brain injuries they sustained while playing. As a result, the sports community is becoming increasingly aware of how important it is to properly treat a concussion and gather as much data as possible close to the time of impact.

C3 Logix is a new, innovative concussion evaluation technology that provides on site data collection at the time of injury, to better aid physicians in diagnosis and treatment. The program is loaded into an iPad and before the season starts, athletes perform a series of neurocognitive tests. The program tracks the athlete’s visual reflexes and their ability to focus on moving objects. Results of these baseline tests can then be compared to data logged in incident reports at the time of suspected brain injury.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

New mobile technology being used by the Allegheny Health Network will allow physicians to better diagnose and treat concussions.

C3 Logix uses a computerized neurocognitive exam through a unique iPad app. The iPad is strapped to a patient’s back and can detect even minute movement.

Reducing the Impact of Concussions

Sep 9, 2013
Jim Danvers / Flickr

Americans have become increasingly concerned about contact sports and whether they should be played by children.

Dr. Anthony Kontos, UPMC Concussion Program Assistant Director of Research, says this may be a knee jerk reaction to increased awareness of injuries and recent NFL lawsuits.

His latest research focuses on concussions in youth football for players under the age of 12. The studies confirm that concussions primarily occur during games. One finding that Kontos says may surprise people is the fact that 8, 9 and 10-year-olds who’ve played tackle football incur fewer concussions than previously thought.

A study out of the University of Pittsburgh has found similar brain abnormalities in concussion and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Saaed Fakran, an assistant professor of neuroradiology at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the study, said it's too early to make any conclusions based on this research, but he hopes to follow up on it.

The study looked at concussion patients ranging in age from 12 to 28 who have had some sort of trauma, persistent abnormality but have a conventional CT and MRI.