Playing the game comes with more than just the score. For athletes, it can come with a lifetime of repercussions.
A UF study released Tuesday shows that UF Health Shands Hospital researchers are using football players’ helmets to help measure the force of collisions on players.
Dr. James Clugston, a University Athletic Association team physician, said despite the awareness about concussions, there was very little scientific knowledge about them and no effective way to diagnose them.
“It came about as a way to take better care of our athletes,” he said. “There were a fair amount of concussions as a common injury.”
Clugston is leading the research on the Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS), which involves technology inside helmets that measure the impact, time and location of each hit athletes experience.
The technology inside the helmet relays data back to Clugston’s research team.
Research began in August during the current football season, according to a press release. About 20 football players are participating in the study.
The $574,910 research project is being financed by Banyan Biomarkers and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council.
Clugston has worked as the UF football team doctor for the last 10 years. He said he has seen concussion cases from multiple sports.
“Having a good technique in your sport, being aware of your surroundings and minimizing the blood to the head usually help in concussion prevention,” he said.
The American Journal of Sports Medicine also published findings Oct. 21 suggesting dozens of universities may not follow a concussion policy created by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The NCAA created a policy that requires institutions of higher learning to have a “concussion-management plan,” as well as a process for teaching athletes about head injuries.
UF has its own concussion-management plan, which requires a player to undergo repeat evaluations after initial checkups within 24 to 72 hours of injury.
According to the management plan, a player may only be allowed to return to play after a detailed evaluation and completion of the UF Return to Play Protocol.
Athletes are given a handout before playing for a UF sports team, providing the definition, symptoms and medical importance of a concussion.
Megan Diaz, a UF education sophomore, said many of her friends suffered concussions playing football in high school.
“Sometimes, they’d get hit in the head by a ball or another player and not place much importance in it,” the 19-year-old said. “But, it’s actually really serious because you never know what a concussion can do to your health and playing ability.”