OU Partnering In National Youth Football Injuries Study

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Ohio University is one of several universities around the country selected to work with the Datalys Center and USA football to study injuries in youth football players.

By working with youth football players in from Alexander, Vinton County, Parkersburg and Vienna, licensed athletic trainers have been documenting player health and looking for ways to increase safety for youth football players. They are attempting to determine ways to reduce the risk of injuries, including lessening the risk of sustaining a concussion.

Dr. Brian Ragan, assistant professor of athletic training at Ohio University, said that the sample size includes athletes as young as third and fourth graders and they will go up to late middle school aged children.

The study is the first youth football injury surveillance study. It will run until November, but Ragan said he was hoping to expand the study to youth hockey and lacrosse.

While Ragan has been busy helping the Datalys Center, he is also working to study head injuries on a national level.

As a member of a task force of other sports injury experts from universities across the country, Dr. Ragan is collaborating with the US Department of Defense, National Institute of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to develop and improve a massive database that can track personal injury information over long periods of time.

They are working to better understand the risks, assessment and outcomes of having a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

Ragan said the ultimate goal is to use to the system to identify long-term consequences of multiple head injuries. The database could assist in determining whether multiple mTBI over an individual’s lifetime contribute to the development of neurological diseases such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. They are also attempting to determine any risk factors that could contribute to development of such conditions.

This particular initiative to study mTBI stemmed from growing interest from individuals representing the NFL, National Federation of State High School Associations, American College of Sports Medicine and the NCAA.

Ragan said that by recent estimation, the system could eventually be set up so that if a child as young as seven for example, sustains a concussion, the information would be entered into the database. The information would then be given a special code that would enable it to be linked to other injuries.

In recent months the Department of Defense and Veteran’s Affairs is developing a similar tool to study a wider range of people.

“Hopefully there can be integrations at many different levels and it can be a springboard for a cumulative study over many years,” Ragan said. 

Jordan Brogley Webb is an Ohio University Honors Tutorial College student.