Originally published by DallasNews.com – “Texas Study of Concussions, Brain Injuries Will Be Nation’s Largest”
AUSTIN — This week, Texas will launch what state officials say is the nation’s largest effort to track brain injuries among young athletes.
The University Interscholastic League, Texas’ governing body for public high school sports, is partnering with the O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center for the project, from which they hope to gauge whether rules or equipment changes are improving player safety and what more can be done to protect athletes.
A state as large as Texas, which has more than 800,000 public high school athletes, would be a key step in developing a national database of brain injuries in youths, officials say. Already, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seeking federal funding for such a database.
“Until we understand what the frequency of concussions is across the state, or a region of the state, we can’t determine when rule changes, equipment changes or things like recovery programs are really being effective,” said Dr. Munro Cullum, a professor of psychiatry, neurology and neurotherapeutics who will lead the study.
All 50 states in recent years have passed rules or laws to address concussions in youth athletics, from research to protocols for identifying concussions and setting rules for return to play. The CDC has estimated that up to 3.8 million concussions occur in sports and recreational activities each year, but some experts wonder if those numbers underestimate total brain injuries, as some individuals may not seek treatment for mild or moderate symptoms.
The Texas program will track about two dozen sports, from football to girls’ soccer, recording what caused an injury, recovery time and other data.
Other states have researched head injuries, too.
In Michigan, which requires schools to report concussions, a recent concussion study showed 755 schools reported 4,452 head injuries in the 2015-16 school year. Football had the most — 1,907 — and girls’ basketball ranked No. 2 with 454.