Concussions in youth sports featured Oct. 22 at Indiana State Museum's Science Night

October 6, 2015  


Nauman brain

This file photo shows members of the Jefferson High School football team in Lafayette, Indiana, who were monitored during practice for research to learn how impacts to the head affect brain function. (Purdue University file photo)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue Neurotrauma Group will present their research and answer questions regarding concussions and young athletes on Oct. 22 at the Indiana State Museum.

The talk, "Engineering Healthier Brains: Re-shaping How Youth Sports Affect Brain Health," is for parents, high school and youth coaches as well as the general public. The 5:30-7 p.m. event is free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended, but not required. Call 317-232-1637 or register at: The talk is a part of the museum's Rad Science: Skatepark Physics exhibit that is running through Jan. 3. Purdue is partnering with the museum to support the exhibit.

The Purdue Neurotrauma group, composed of professors Larry Leverenz, Eric Nauman, and Thomas Talavage, has been studying brain changes in high school football players since 2009.

"Parents and coaches have many questions about concussions and youth sports, and during this talk we will explain our research and what we've found, as well as some of our recommendations," said Leverenz, clinical professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, and an expert in athletic training.

The group's most recent research into the effects of repeated head impacts has shown changes in brain chemistry and metabolism even in players who have not been diagnosed with concussions and suggest the brain may not fully heal during the offseason. The researchers used a medical-imaging technique called proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) to study the brains of 25 high school football players and those of non-contact-sports controls before, during and after the regular season.

The researchers also are working to develop helmet technologies that absorb more energy than conventional helmets to better protect the brain. They also are beginning to look at head impacts in high school soccer.

Nauman is a professor of mechanical engineering, basic medical sciences and biomedical engineering, and Talavage is a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering and co-director of the Purdue MRI Facility.

The Purdue researchers have formed the Concussion Neuroimaging Consortium with seven other institutions to garner support and funding for research into the neurological effects of contact sports. The other consortium members are Northwestern University, Michigan State University, North Shore University Hospital, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Nebraska and the University of Central Florida.

The Rad Science exhibit has more than 25 interactive experiences including Bodacious Board Balance, Friction Hill, Newton's Pool, History Bowl, Vert Theatre and Wipeout Ambulance.

Purdue Day is scheduled for Nov. 21 and will feature exhibits from many of Purdue's academic programs, including the sciences. More information will be available closer to the event.

The Indiana State Museum is located at 650 W. Washington St., Indianapolis. Exhibition gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Ticket information is available online.

Purdue also supports STEM education in Indiana through various workshops for teachers interested in offering more science and engineering curriculum in their classrooms, educational grants, technology camps and programs such as Science Express, which delivers science equipment to classes around the state. This May Purdue's M-STEM3 500 program hosted hundreds of Indiana teens at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to promote science and motor sports.  

Writers: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723,

Emil Venere, 765-494-4709,  

Bruce Williams, director of media and public relations at Indiana State Museum, 317-234-8146,  

Sources: Eric Nauman, 765-494-8602, 

Larry J. Leverenz, 765-494-3167, 

Thomas M. Talavage, 765-494-5475, 

Related websites:

A YouTube video showing the Purdue Neurotrama team's research is available at 

Related news release:

Purdue, Indiana State Museum partner to promote science through skateboarding

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