Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital researchers to study concussions in student athletes

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA)– On the rink or on the field, hard hits are part of playing the game for many young athletes across the Bay area, all fighting for a win.

Last year, the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Sports Medicine Concussion Clinic treated more than 500 concussion cases and now, researchers want to know what long-term effects those hits could be having on young brains.

“We are seeing more problems with concussions now than we ever have before. I don’t think it is because there are more concussions, I just think that the technology that children use on a daily basis makes the concussion symptoms worse,” said Dr. Patrick Mularoni, a sports medicine physician on the AllSports Medicine team at Johns Hopkins All Children’s.

Over the next three years, researchers will equip high school football, hockey and soccer players ages 15-18 in the Bay Area with special mouth guards or headbands containing a sensor that tracks forceful hits.

Those devices will store information that researchers will download every two weeks as participants wear them at all practices and games.

“We can determine how many hits an athlete is taking and maybe determine what type of hits cause concussions,” said Dr. Mularoni.

According to Johns Hopkins All Children’s, three separate testing tools will be used to study athletes before and after each sports season for changes in brain function: head impact sensors, biospecimens and neuropsychological testing.

“We really don’t know the long term effects, we know what people have said has happened in NFL players, who are older, but with the way we are treating concussion today, we don’t know whether children are going to have long term effects,” said Dr. Mularoni.

Focusing research specifically on high school aged athletes could help future generations play the contact sports they love while preventing devastating consequences in the future.

The concussion study is made possible by a $500,000 grant from the All Children’s Hospital Foundation and began this past fall.

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