Members of the Buffalo Sabres and other professional and collegiate athletes will help in a research project meant to determine a safer method of returning athletes who suffer a concussion to the field.
Sports medicine researchers at the University at Buffalo recently got a $100,000 grant from NFL Charities to develop scientific methods to deal with concussions. The 18-month grant is one of 15 given out by NFL Charities to study brain health.
Researchers say returning athletes to play has been a grossly understudied aspect of concussion research, with doctors relying on subjective measures to clear athletes rather than anything rooted in science.
"Concussion itself poses little risk if it is properly managed. The only risk acutely is hemorrhage, which is generally detected through CT scans," said John Leddy, UB orthopaedics professor and principal investigator on the grant. "However, return to play before complete recovery involves much more serious risk. Therefore, it is important that a systematic, scientifically based return-to-play protocol be established and that it is proven to be valid and reliable."
Between 35 and 50 athletes from the Sabres, Buffalo Bills, and Buffalo-area colleges will help out in the research. The Sabres' team doctor is also helping out with the research. Among the vitals to be tested are heart rate, blood pressure and brain blood flow to try and find scientific links to brain healing.
Mary Owen, the Bills' vice president for strategic planning, is glad her team can help out:
"The research that will be conducted … will benefit athletes at all levels and this is another example of how the Bills and the NFL continue to give back to our Western New York community."
Previous pilot studies found controlled, progressive exercise is a sound treatment for concussed athletes. And exercise, researchers noted, yields results that can't be faked, preventing athletes from suiting back up when they're not fit to do so.
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