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24 February 2013
Concussions sustained while playing sport are becoming a major public health concern in Australia, so much so that Deakin University researchers are tackling the long-term impact through a new study.
Dr Alan Pearce, a neuroscientist with Deakin University’s School of Psychology, is leading a project looking at the long-term impact sports concussion has on athletes.
“Sports concussion is a form of mild traumatic injury, where a blow to the head causes loss of brain function that can result in impaired memory, reflexes and muscle coordination,” Dr Pearce explained. “While incidents seem to be on the rise, with an estimated six to seven injuries per team, per season, at all levels of Australian football each year, we are unaware of the long term effects of repeated sports concussion.”
Dr Pearce is measuring the brain activity, mental ability and fine movement dexterity in retired elite football players, compared to age-matched healthy people who have never played contact sport.
While the project is in the early stages, Dr Pearce hopes that the results will provide information that can be used to assist in screening for mild traumatic injury for the prescription of psychological and neuromuscular rehabilitation.