UNM research could help athletes on, off field

Anyone watching how the game is played this year knows the National Football League is taking the potential for brain injuries seriously.

New rules have been enacted to protect players, and at the slightest hint of a concussion players are hustled off the field for tests.

The NFL recently settled a lawsuit for $765 million, primarily to compensate former players and families of deceased players who have suffered cognitive injuries, but $100 million will go for baseline medical exams, research and education.

Meanwhile, the National Collegiate Athletic Association is facing a federal class action lawsuit that claims the association didn’t do enough to warn of concussion risks and prevent, diagnose or treat brain injuries.

Now the University of New Mexico and the Albuquerque-based independent nonprofit Mind Research Network are leading the way in collegiate athletics to learn more about the long-term effects of brain injuries that can occur in contact sports.

The network of scientists world-wide focuses on diagnosing and treating mental illness and brain injuries and specializes in imaging technologies.

The project, Brain Safe, will give more than 200 Lobo athletes MRI brain scans, which will be compared with scans taken later and after head injuries.

The ultimate goal is to lessen the impact of concussions. UNM’s participation is estimated to cost the university $500,000 annually for three years.

University President Bob Frank says the cutting edge effort “could be a game changer.”

If so, this will be an excellent example of how scientific collaboration can make a real difference in the game of life, both on and off the field.


— Albuquerque Journal

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