After sustaining a concussion, when can an athlete safely return to play? That's the primary question for professional and amateur athletes alike.
Now, University at Buffalo sports medicine researchers have been awarded $100,000 from NFL Charities to develop the most objective, scientific method of determining when an athlete who has had a concussion can safely return to play.
NFL Charities, the charitable foundation of the National Football League owners, has awarded the 18-month grant to researchers at the Concussion Management Clinic in the Department of Orthopaedics in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The grant to UB is one of 15 totaling $1.5 million that NFL Charities is providing to researchers nationwide to support sports-related medical research on concussion/traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular medicine.
"Concussion itself poses little risk if it is properly managed; the only risk acutely is hemorrhage, which is generally detected through CT scans," says John Leddy, MD, director of UB's Concussion Management Clinic; clinical associate professor of orthopaedics, family medicine and rehabilitation sciences; and principal investigator on the grant. A photo of Leddy is at http://www.buffalo.edu/news/13660.
"However, return to play before complete recovery involves much more serious risk," Leddy continues. "Therefore, it is important that a systematic, scientifically based return-to-play protocol be established and that it is proven to be valid and reliable. This is what we will be doing with this grant."
To date, that hasn't existed, he says, with team physicians often relying on more subjective assessments of an athlete's ability to exercise without experiencing symptoms.
Leddy will conduct the research with his colleague, Barry Willer, PhD, UB professor of psychiatry and rehabilitation science, who is co-principal investigator on the grant (photo at http://www.buffalo.edu/news/13660).
Over the next 18 months, the UB researchers will test between 35 and 50 athletes from the Buffalo Bills, the Buffalo Sabres and athletes from Western New York colleges, including UB, who sustain concussions in the 2012-2013 season, as well as healthy control subjects.