America’s biggest study into brain injuries among young athletes will be launched in Texas.
Texas’ governing body for public high school sports is partnering with the O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center for the project, which aims to gauge whether rules or equipment changes are improving player safety.
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.
“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.
The Texas program will track about two-dozen sports, from football to girls’ soccer, recording what caused an injury, recovery time and other data.