Midlands youth football players at center of concussion study - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Midlands youth football players at center of concussion study

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Athletic trainers at the University of South Carolina are turning to technology in hopes of protecting the young athletes.

In addition to being in the midst of a heat illness study that's the first of its kind, athletic trainers are also studying the effects of head impacts day after day.

They're currently monitoring 30 youth football players out at the Irmo-Chapin Recreation Commission League by using what's called an "X2 BioSystems xPatch." Trainers say the patch can measure the force of a hit and its direction.

"The sensor will vibrate to the head impact and take note of that and download it into a system of how many times that occurred during a practice, and how hard it was," said Dr. Susan Yeargin, an Associate Professor of the Athletic Training Education Program at USC.

Dr. Yeargin and other USC athletic trainers are hoping that studying the statistics will help them see beyond the impact of concussions and look at the effects of head impacts day after day.

"There are lots of players, particularly in the NFL who on autopsy, after they passed away, were never diagnosed with concussion, but they're showing signs of dementia in their brain," said Dr. Yeargin. "So we're actually starting to think there's more to the idea of just the impact itself than actually sustaining a concussion."

But when a child does sustain a concussion, when should they return to play? Trainers are hoping the study will help provide answers and determine if a child's brain responds differently to impacts than a high school or collegiate brain.

League leaders are hoping for those answers, too. "I think it is of utmost importance for us to get this data in so we can prepare for the future to make sure from this point forward that our young men and women are taken care of, and we're doing the right things in the Park & Recreations fields to maintain their safety," said Ashley Smith, the Athletic Director at the Irmo-Chapin Recreation Commission.

USC athletic trainers will be studying the youth football players throughout their entire season.  The study is possible because of a national grant through USA football and Datalys Center.

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