Research into the long-term effects of concussions and other head injuries have been at the forefront of sports medicine in recent years. Studies have shown that brain injuries can mimic, or perhaps even cause, debilitating conditions like ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and even death.
In August 2010 the New York Times reported that Gehrig, one of baseball’s greatest players, was known to sustain several head injuries over the course of his career. It’s also been well documented that Gehrig would often ‘play through’ his injuries rather than let a team mate take his place on the field. It is sports-related head injuries that HSU’s (Humboldt State University) North Coast Concussion Program is studying in hopes of assisting other researchers collecting data.
As reported in “Humboldt,” a quarterly magazine mailed to alumni of HSU,
There is a growing concern in athletics at all levels about concussions. Athletes, coaches and parents are all trying to better understand the short- and long-term effects, and the North Coast Concussion Program and a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology are adding to the growing body of research.
Everyone involved in sports from pee wee leagues to professional sports organizations are beginning to take head injuries more seriously than has been done in the past. According the article in “Humboldt,” Assembly Bill 25 was passed last year by the California legislature to help protect student athletes. The law requires school officials to immediately remove any student athlete from play if there is a suspected concussion or head injury. The athlete must then be evaluated and have written clearance from a licensed health care provider before being allowed to return to any sports activity.
The research being done at the North Coast Concussion Program began in 2008 and since that time more than 3,000 athletes have participated in a test to determine their baseline cognitive abilities. Should a student athlete suffer head trauma or a concussion, they are then tested again and those results are compared with the baseline results. Even community members not involved in sports can become part of the research being done at HSU. If those community members then suffer some sort of brain injury, they can return and take part in a follow-up evaluation.
The study and research facility is run by Beth Larson, a former student at HSU who graduated in 2010 with a M.S. in Kinesiology. Her goal is to collect as much data as possible on individuals who are extreme athletes, couch potatoes and everyone in between. Her goal is to collect a substantive amount of data to provide a ‘strong baseline dataset,’ which is extremely helpful in propelling research into head injuries forward.
If you would like to know more about the North Coast Concussion Program or would like to take part in an evaluation of cognitive abilities, contact Beth Larson at 707-826-3533 or Elizabeth.Larson@humboldt.edu.
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