A team of Purdue University researchers says funding is drying up as it looks to shed light on traumatic brain injury. The Purdue Neurotrauma Group is partnering with former National Football League quarterback Mark Herrmann on a crowdfunding campaign to round up support. The researchers are ultimately hoping to attract $2 million for a study tracking football and soccer players’ brain function before, during and after a season of play. As first reported in our Life Sciences INdiana e-newsletter, the team hopes to study 400 high school athletes.
“Our niche is looking at the players before they start playing; we do a complete MRI workup and cognitive testing, then we track every hit that they take all through the season during practices and games [for high school football and women’s soccer],” says Purdue Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering Professor Dr. Eric Nauman. “Then we look at how their brains and brain function changes during the season and how it recovers—or doesn’t recover—post-season.”
Previous studies from the Purdue Neurotrauma Group suggest up to 90 percent of players examined experienced changes in brain behavior. The team, which bills itself as “the only independent research group,” says concussions should not be the only focus of research.
"[Other studies] are trying to identify concussions, but concussions are only 10 percent of the problem," Nauman told Inside INdiana Business Special Projects Reporter Kylie Veleta. "We’re seeing changes in brain behavior affect anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of the players."
While the group knows the crowdfunding campaign won’t raise all the money it is seeking, it will begin the process and help raise awareness. The team says, while "an okay" study could cost at least $400,000, more impactful research would cost close to $2 million.
Nauman says with more research that leads to interventions, it is possible to make sports safer.