Breakthroughs being made in understanding concussions
Where fans bleed orange and blue, and only gators get out alive.
When the players walk out onto that field the goal is to win.
Things can always go wrong regardless of the outcome of the game.
Many of us have seen players get hit and wonder how they got back up.
According to the CDC 75% of football players have a chance for a concussion, but that’s not the only sport.
Last summer the NCAA and U.S. department of defense teamed up with 11 schools and 4 service academies in the largest concussion study of its kind.
UF is one of those schools.
" Having the athletic population here and the willingness of our athletic association to participate really has increased our stature in the research world and is probably one of the reasons we were invited to be in this study," said UF Team Physician Dr. Jay Clugston.
Dr. Jay Clugston heads this 30 million dollar nationwide concussion study here at UF, but he is not new to these studies he’s been doing research on these head injuries for UF since 2005.
Even after 10 years understanding this problem is still at the beginning stages.
" There's more we don't know than we actually know right now," said Clugston.
There are some things we do know.
" We know that concussion is a brain injury, you don't need to be hit in the head to get a concussion there just needs to be force to that is transmitted to the head," said Clugston.
This study is expected to lead to new answers in the next two years.
Five hundred student athletes volunteered to be a part of the study at UF.
Starting with baseline testing before potential collisions.
The tests include balance, cognitive and memorization skills.
If the time it takes the player to complete the test after getting hit is longer than their baseline, the player can be taken off the field to be examined.
One tool the Florida football team is using to identify concussions on the field is the HITT system.
" Football we have some sensors that go inside the helmet, and there's six of them. If someone takes a hit they register, and they send a signal to the computer on the sideline.," said Clugston.
Clugston and his team monitor those hits throughout the game but the sensors can’t always determine if there’s a concussion.
One new research trial tests blood proteins, so like a diabetic, coaches can test the blood to see if someone suffered a concussion.
" People who think they have a concussion to determine you have elevated levels of these proteins therefore it's an indication of a concussion.," said Research Coordinator Dewayne DeBose, PHD.
Banyan Biomarkers started in Alachua County but is sampling the blood for schools across the nation.
If the data from the blood testing goes accordingly diagnosing concussions will never be the same.
" Provide information that is going to change medical practice especially for our kids," said Banyan Biomarkers Chief Scientific Officer Ronald Hayes, PHD.
All science aside in the end these players are still playing to win.
" I still think that some of the athletes are hesitant to come to us because they don't want to come out of the game they're very competitive," said Clugston.
Former football player Dewayne DeBose has seen the results of concussions both on the field and now working behind the scenes.
He says while it’s hard to take yourself out of the game it’s even harder to see a teammate struggle.
" Sometimes the teammates will let the athletic trainer know too because they don't want their fellow teammate to get hurt on the field and also hurt the team, " said DeBose.
Doctors say contact sports are at a tipping point.
The studies being done now will predict the future of these sports.
But that change is a long ways away.
" This isn't going away its going to several years many years to figure this out," said Clugston.
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