UNG joins NCAA, Department of Defense concussion study

UNG recently joined a three-year NCAA and Department of Defense initiative that aims to prevent, diagnose and treat concussions. The Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium includes 30 colleges and universities.

“Student-athlete welfare is paramount in our mission at UNG, so we are glad that we can assist with this important research initiative and return-to-play protocols,” Director of Athletics Lindsay Reeves said.

To participate in the study, all UNG student-athletes will receive a full preseason evaluation for concussions with follow-up checks in the event of an injury. The study also includes 285 cadets from UNG’s Boar’s Head Brigade, as cadets spend a great deal of time in physical training and are at similar risk as athletes for head injuries. The grant securing UNG’s participation was authored by Dr. Jessica Miles, assistant professor of health, physical education and recreation.

According to Matt Daniel, UNG’s head athletic trainer, national interest in concussion treatment and prevention has gained momentum in the past few years due to leaps in knowledge and understanding of how the injuries present in athletes.

“Concussions are very difficult to evaluate and identify; each situation, injury and athlete is different. Recovery rates are also different for each person and each event,” Daniel said. “The brain heals very slowly, so it is critical that we prevent or correctly diagnose concussions as often as possible. The more we as athletic trainers and medical professionals learn, the more our society learns and becomes interested in supporting these initiatives.”

Daniel said that problems after a concussion occurs can present hours or days after the injury happens. To protect UNG student- athletes, one portion of the university’s concussion protocol includes baseline testing to establish how the university’s student- athletes function when they are injury-free and provide comparison data if a student-athlete suffers a head injury.

Numbers vary, but UNG’s athletics department typically diagnoses about 10 concussions per year among its more than 225 student-athletes. According to data collected for the study, an estimated 10,500 college athletes sustain concussions annually, and more than 320,000 brain injuries have been reported among American service members since 2000.