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Medical Edge: Concussion Study

Updated: Friday, November 15 2013, 08:27 PM EST

CINCINNATI (WKRC) -- A breakthrough study released this week by researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center may be the first step in uncovering a whole new way to prevent concussions in high school sports, especially football.

Medical reporter Liz Bonis explains how in today's Medical Edge.

It was a sudden blow to the head for Jack, who plays high school football, that brought him here to this Biodynamics Research Center in need of further evaluation.

"I was at practice. I went to make a tackel, and I got knocked," said 16-year-old Jack.

Jack's dad initially didn't think much about it until:

"Two weeks after the injury he took a concussion test, and he failed it miserably," said Trevor Lemmel.

The good news for Jack is that he does appear to be on the mend, but the real goal for the team here is to prevent concussions from ever happening.

Since the most recent studies show helmets don't do the trick, Doctor Greg Myer has been looking at another potential fix.

It is based on previous research, that we might need to tighten up the fit of the human brain inside the head when we play contact sports.

To find this out you might be surprised. They actually reviewed some very unique animals, with some very unique habits.

"What we've done is worked with a group that has studied animal physiology especially woodpeckers and headramming sheep," said Myer's.

 Yep, you heard him, woodpeckers and headramming sheep.

Animals that have repeated massive concussive blows to the head and don't appear to suffer the same damaging consequences as humans.

"What they have determined is they have this muscle called the hyoid muscle, we as mammals have that as well and we can alter, self alter, our jugular outflow. Very similar to what we see when we lay down. We can alter it to those levels, but what that does is it creates air bags for our brain, and takes out that area for slosh as we call it," said Myer's.

Now Myers team has taken this research one step further, they wanted to find out if this sort protective effect could happen naturally in higher altitudes. So his team did a nationwide review  from 500 high schools across the country.
"And we just split by high altitude and low altitude and we found a very strong effect, up to a 30 percent reduced rate of concussions in those schools that played at higher altitude," said Myer's.

Now they are in the process of conducting further studies with a device that would work to alter brain blood flow and potentially do the same thing no matter what altitude you play. We'll share more as they learn it.

Preliminary lab studies on this new device did show a drop in concussions. They are now starting human trials.

Medical Edge: Concussion Study

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