Head trauma research: Colorado projects (funded by the Pac-12) aim to reduce, and understand, concussions

U.S. Route 36 extends for more than 200 miles through the midsection of Colorado. In the center of the state, it’s better known as the Denver-Boulder Turnpike, providing scenic views of the Flatirons to the northwest and downtown Denver to the southeast.

Given the potentially groundbreaking research underway at each end, a more appropriate moniker for the turnpike might be Head Trauma Highway.

At one end, University of Colorado-Boulder researchers are using Virtual Reality to study the body’s response to concussion.

At the other, 30 miles away, University of Colorado-Denver engineers are reinventing the helmet using a shock-absorbing, rubber-like substance known as liquid crystal elastomer (LCE).

VR and LCEs, concussion prevention and recovery, two campuses and one vexing issue— it’s all part of CU’s ongoing attempt to solve the mystery of head trauma.

“What we’re doing isn’t creative, it’s proactive,” Buffaloes athletic director Rick George said. “We’ve got some passionate faculty, and the (Pac-12) has given us an opening.”

The concurrent but independent research projects are funded by the Pac-12’s Student Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative (SAHWBI), which was created by commissioner Larry Scott in 2013 with approval by the presidents and chancellors.

Using a sliver of its windfall from the College Football Playoff, the conference has allocated $3.6 million annually ($300,000 per school) to supporting research projects designed to improve the welfare of athletes during and after their playing careers.

Many of the current projects focus on mental health and head trauma. Colorado has taken a leading role in both areas, but particularly the latter.

Faculty members realized years ago — back when concussions in football were just entering the public realm— that medical research was a way to “bridge the gap that existed between the faculty and athletics,” according to Miguel Rueda, a senior associate athletic director for health and performance.

“We started with smaller projects,” Rueda added, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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