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Publish date: Jan 25, 2011

NOCSAE awards $600,000 for concussion research

By Marta Lawrence

Research on concussions received a boost over the weekend when the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment awarded more than $600,000 to fund the study of concussions and also created a new scientific advisory committee to administer these efforts.

The group also reviewed work done by the special Multidisciplinary Concussion Task Force Conference, which was created in January 2010 to help identify and direct specific research to advance science and research about concussions.

NOCSAE is a national group responsible for developing standards and testing methods for athletics equipment. NOCSAE’s football helmet testing is the industry standard, and NCAA rules mandate that helmets used at the collegiate level must be NOCSAE-compliant.

Recently, New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall requested that the Consumer Product Safety Commission review those standards to determine if they adequately protect athletes, specifically youth, from the damaging forces that can cause concussions. Udall also has requested that the Federal Trade Commission examine marketing claims by helmet manufactures.

Estimates suggest that between 1.6 million and 3.8 million concussions occur from participation in sports- and recreation-related activities every year. Although football accounts for the highest rate of reported concussions during games (3.1 per 1,000 athlete exposures), other sports − including helmeted and non-helmeted sports − also pose a risk for injury, according to data reported by the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program.

Currently there has been little investigation of youth helmets and the impact equipment and fit can have on safety. In addition to funding ongoing research, the NOCSAE grants will devote nearly $340,000 to a study on the biomechanics of concussions.

“Investment in research, like the funding we awarded and creating the Scientific Advisory Committee, provides the foundation for our work to protect athletes on the field of play,” NOCSAE executive director Mike Oliver said. “It is our mission to continue to drive the science of sports medicine so youth and adults who choose to play sports can know their equipment is certified to standards based on the best available information.”

Since 2000 NOCSAE has devoted more than $2.5 million toward expert research in sports medicine and science to develop and advance athlete safety.