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Collegiate athletes assist in concussion assessment study

Soccer game

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Collegiate athletes in the communities near Upstate Medical University are helping researchers improve the identification and assessment of head injuries in sports.

Students playing sports at Cazenovia, Le Moyne and Onondaga Community colleges, Syracuse University and other schools may participate in a study that assesses the concussion assessment tools currently in use. Upstate is one of about 10 sites partnering with BrainScope, a private medical neurotechnology company that is developing a new generation of portable, hand-held devices for objectively assessing brain function.

The sports with higher concussion risk include football and soccer, but principal investigator  Christopher Neville, PhD, said athletes from non-contact sports such as swimming and track are being used as controls.

When an athlete suffers a possible concussion, study coordinator Joshua Baracks, an athletic trainer, arranges for a sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging scan within 72 hours of injury. The athlete also undergoes balance and neurocognitive testing, plus an electroencephalogram. For the study, that athlete is matched with someone of the same age, gender and sport – likely a teammate – who has not been injured and who undergoes the same type of testing.

“All of this is to look at a suite of post-concussion tests to investigate which one or ones are helpful in the identification, and assessment over time,” Neville said.

Providers who treat a collegiate athlete with concussion symptoms within 72 hours of the injury may suggest that he or she participate in the BrainScope study. Call 1-315-464-9966 or email [email protected] for details.

Listen to interviews with Upstate concussion experts