While much of the action concerning serious brain injuries in sports has revolved around professional football over the last few years, we are now starting to see other sports agencies commission their own studies and consult with their own experts in an attempt to better understand the toll of concussions and other head trauma.
For instance, the National Collegiate Athletic Association recently commenced a three-year $30 million study, in conjunction with the Department of Defense, to study the impact of head injuries on student athletes.
The study, which will include volunteer student athletes from 30 NCAA schools and the nation's four military service academies, will help gauge the frequency and severity of head trauma in college athletics, and determine whether current concussion protocol is getting the job done.
As part of the study, participating student athletes will complete a series of baseline exams measuring everything from memory and balance to history of anxiety and depression. In the event they are diagnosed with a concussion, they will retake these same baseline tests five times over a six-month period.
It's worth noting that the study will also see student athletes at Virginia Tech, UCLA, the University of Wisconsin and the University of North Carolina who play high-contact sports like football wear helmets and equipment outfitted with special sensors designed to gather information about especially hard hits.
In addition to this specialized equipment, these athletes will also take part in more extensive medical testing, including blood tests and MRI scans.
It's perhaps not surprising to see the NCAA initiate such a large-scale study given that it paid over $75 million to settle a class-action lawsuit relating to sports-related concussions just last year.
Nevertheless, it's incredibly encouraging to see more organizations start taking the risks of sports-related head trauma seriously. Here's hoping, we see real progress and that those student athletes who suffer irreparable harm secure the help they deserve.