Football players have much to gain from research in detecting and treating concussions. PHOTO: Jeffrey Beall, CC License
Football is one of the best sports to watch on television, and one of the worst to think about what the athletes go through. Reports of brain damage in players are hard to ignore, and there is one clear culprit: concussions.
Now researchers in Nebraska are looking to change that, or at least to be able to detect when a concussion has occurred. There is already a procedure used to test for concussions, but involves only asking questions and having the players perform hand-eye coordination tests. Daniel Molfese at the University of Nebraska has a new plan: measure the player’s brain waves using a skull cap to determine if a concussion has occurred and if so, how severe. The device is a major project of the newly opening Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior (CB3). CB3 will have regular reminders of what it’s working on: it will be housed in the east side of Memorial Stadium where the Nebraska Cornhuskers play.
"There has been great concussion research that's been going on for decades," said Molfese, the CB3 director. "It's disconcerting to realize just how little we really know."
The device that Molfese is working on would measure irregularities in brain waves, and be able to make all needed measurements within 10 minutes. Hopefully improvements can be made even from that, so that the measurements can be made within a commercial break.
The NFL has a real concussion problem, and it’s just about the only league-wide problem the incredibly successful league has. Given that they are awash in cash. NFL players suffer concussions on a regular basis. How regular is up for debate, but some studies have shown that lineman can sustain a low-level concussion on almost every play. When those are compounded on a long drive, the damage can accumulate. It makes all the sense in the world for the NFL to invest in research like that happening at CB3, that is needed for their players, and could have an impact across the medical field.