Last October, Purdue University released their first study on concussions and hits that high school players take in a season. The take-away message from that initial study was;
Purdue researchers who monitored the helmets of 21 Lafayette Jefferson High School players found that players may be damaging their brains even if they have not been diagnosed with a concussion.
Another year and another set of data brings the West Lafayette group (Evan Breedlove, Eric Nauman, Lenny Leverenz, Thomas Talavage, Jeffrey Gilger, Meghan Robinson, Katherine E. Morigaki, Umit Yoruk, Kyle O’Keefe, & Jeffrey King) – called the Purdue Neurotrauma Group – back into focus, now beginning to confirm their working hypothesis;
“The most important implication of the new findings is the suggestion that a concussion is not just the result of a single blow, but it’s really the totality of blows that took place over the season,” said Eric Nauman, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and an expert in central nervous system and musculoskeletal trauma. “The one hit that brought on the concussion is arguably the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Using the same techniques of; neurocognitive testing, functional MRI and helmet impact telemetry the Purdue group is finding that there may just be a hit limit that one can sustain. In their admittedly small population players sustained between 200-1900 hits to the head in the season, ranging in force from 20 G’s to nearly 300 G’s.
“Now that we know there is definitely a buildup of damage before the concussion occurs, ultimately, there is hope that we can do more to prevent concussions,” Nauman said.
This information, with further research, can be extrapolated to other sports; soccer being the main concern with the routine heading of a ball (the linked article explains that a header can register at 20 G’s). The PNG is also looking to investigate gender differences as their research proceeds. The recent study will be published in the online version of Journal of Biomechanics.
The take-home message now is; “how much is too much”?