Concussions are a serious issue that all athletes face, especially those playing contact sports.
College sports have recently been under scrutiny for how some universities have handled concussion care. However the NCAA announced they will be launching the largest concussion study ever conducted and California Lutheran University will be part of it.
The study will cost the NCAA roughly $23 million and will examine about 25,000 athletes over the course of three years.
The study, led by the University of Michigan, has multiple prestigious and large universities participating in the study including the University of Florida, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Georgia and many others. Cal Lutheran is one of only three Division III schools participating.
According to clusports.com, Cal Lutheran’s role in the study will take place in the second year of the study. Their role will begin this summer when they will start to monitor student athletes who are concussed at various stages of their concussion.
Head Cal Lutheran athletic trainer Kecia Davis will be helping with the study and feels strongly about the importance of concussion safety and research.
“I feel that there has always been a problem with SRC [sports-related concussions] or mild traumatic brain injuries when dealing with collision sports and any high level of athletic competition,” Davis said in an email interview. “This is not a new topic, but due to the high amount of information and public awareness, there needs to be much more comprehensive research to determine long-term effects and also to better prevent, evaluate, treat and care for athletes that have been affected by this injury.”
The results of this study will not only be used to help prevent and treat concussions for NCAA athletes, but it will help youth sports, military members and the general public with their treatment of concussions.
One Cal Lutheran athlete who has seen concussions first hand is football player Benjamin Chavez II.
In an email interview Chavez said he remembered a time from youth football when he saw how damaging concussions can be.
“I remember one kid I played with at 10 years old got concussed, threw up and sort of passed out,” Chavez said.
After witnessing this firsthand, Chavez said he fully supports the idea of the study and has his own opinions on what the study should look at.
“I think an extensive study should focus on when the right age is to play sports like football and soccer where head injuries occur more often, just to prevent kids from sacrificing possible brain power,” Chavez said.
Another student who has had first hand experience with concussions is former high school soccer player Justin Kolas. In an email interview Kolas said he has had “10 documented concussions.”
“With each concussion comes more pain and a slower mind. Over the past years I have definitely seen how it has affected my thought process as well as my confidence in being the crazy, active, fearless guy I once was,” Kolas said.
Because of his experience with concussions, Kolas is a big supporter of the study.
“I know there is a lot we do know about concussions, but I know there is far more that needs to be figured out,” Kolas said.“When you go to get it checked, there is never much that they really can do. They give you some pain meds if needed, sometimes try [to] take a CT [computerized tomography] scan or even an X-ray, but other than that, they just say ‘Rest up, don’t move your head around and it will heal up in a few weeks,’” Kolas said.
Leading the study for Cal Lutheran will be Assistant Professor of Exercise Science Louise Kelly, and Assistant Athletic Director-Performance Patrick Holmberg. Athletic trainers Davis, Cody Owens and Samantha Olmon will also be helping.
Cal Lutheran will be receiving $75,000 for its participation in the study which will go toward paying the trainers and covering the cost of equipment.
Published March 25th, 2015