Purdue researchers can discuss how repeated head impacts affect brains of high school football players

December 21, 2015  


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – As the new movie "Concussion" comes to theaters, Purdue University researchers who have worked with forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu - played by actor Will Smith – can talk about the science that drives the film's storyline.

Larry Leverenz, Eric Nauman and Thomas Talavage lead the Purdue Neurotrauma Group, which has studied brain changes in high school football players since 2009, spanning six seasons. Recent findings have been published in several papers in 2015, and their work also has examined high school soccer players.

"I think it's very meaningful that the persistent work of researchers has helped to bring this problem to the nation's consciousness, so much so that it is the focus of a mainstream film starring Will Smith," said Nauman, a professor of mechanical engineering, basic medical sciences and biomedical engineering.

Leverenz is a clinical professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology and an expert in athletic training, and Talavage is a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering and co-director of the Purdue MRI Facility.

Research data including medical imaging evidence shows players experiencing repeated blows to the head may not fully heal from season to season. The Purdue Neurotrauma Group has pioneered the study of sub-concussive injury and its researchers are recognized leaders in the field. The team also is developing new protective technologies such as more effective energy-absorbing materials for football helmets, which have been licensed through the Purdue Research Foundation's  Office of Technology Commercialization.

"Helmets have remained fundamentally unchanged for decades and are designed to prevent skull fractures, not concussions," Nauman said.

The team was instrumental in forming a new Concussion Neuroimaging Consortium with researchers at the University of Central Florida, Michigan State University, University of Nebraska, Northshore University Hospital, Northwestern University, Ohio State University and Penn State University. 

Media Contact: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu 

Sources: Larry J. Leverenz, 765-494-3167, llevere@purdue.edu

Eric Nauman, 765-494-8602, mailto:enauman@purdue.edu

Thomas M. Talavage, 765-494-5475, tmt@ecn.purdue.edu 

Related news releases:

'Deviant brain metabolism' found in high school football players

Football findings suggest concussions caused by series of hits

Brain changes found in football players thought to be concussion-free 

Note to Journalists:  The researchers will have limited availability over the holidays. Journalists interested in speaking with the sources may call Emil Venere, 765-430-3561. For broadcast quality B-roll and soundbites, visit https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0BxdPFMVWz-l2VlNRekNQN3cySVU&usp=sharing 

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