Two conferences known for brains and athletics team up to study head injuries
A few days ago, the Big Ten Conference and the Ivy League announced that they will be banding together to study the effects of head injuries in sports. This announcement comes nearly a year after the Ivy League reduced the number of contact practices a team could hold during the season, also in an effort to combat head injuries. The move a year ago was unprecedented, and this type of study between potentially all 20 institutions is fairly uncharted waters as well.
But when it comes down to it, the study (or studies? how do you quantify something like this that could involve 20 colleges/universities?) seems to be about the B1G and Ivy schools trying to figure out ways to prevent concussions, and perhaps study their long-term effects.
What does this mean for us as Columbians? Well, perhaps a lot, and perhaps not that much—it’s very unclear right now which Ivy schools are participating, and to what extent.
But as for what will be studied, of course, it’s already well known that playing football can be a pretty dangerous proposition when it comes to concussions. Just a few months ago, prominent retired NFL linebacker Junior Seau took his own life by shooting himself in the heart, and there’s been plenty of speculation that he did this in order to preserve his brain so that it can be studied.
How does Seau’s suicide relate to this new agreement between the two conferences? There is a degererative neurological condition called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy—better known as CTE—that develops from an individual who suffers from multiple concussions. Unfortunately, right now it’s only possible for the condition to be detected after death. Former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson knew this, and also committed suicide in February 2011, and left notes for his family to have his brain studied. In May of the same year, researchers at Boston University confirmed Duerson did, in fact, suffer from CTE.
So, one possible dream outcome for the joint research is that the Big Ten and Ivy League could develop a way to detect CTE while an individual is still alive. That, of course, is pure speculation, but with the combined effort of the Ancient Eight and Big Ten, the brains of all our athletes should be in much better shape in the future.
Leave a Comment
Be nice. Don't use HTML tags. And consider reading our full comment policy.