There's hope for head injuries
In addition to the changes that the NFL is making to reduce head trauma, there is currently a lot of research going on to help solve the issues of concussions in sports. But some of the research doesn't come from the sports world at all.
Last Friday, I came across this article in USA Today about a new technique the U.S. Army is developing to help diagnose concussions in soldiers. It's a standard blood test that looks for a biomarker that researchers have linked to mild traumatic brain damage.
"With concussions being a clinical diagnosis, it’s incredibly important to move beyond that to one with a biomarker where you can definitively know what’s happening in the brain," said Chris Nowinski, president of the Sports Legacy Institute. Many athletes either mask or downplay the symptoms to keep playing. A concrete diagnosis would be a huge tool in stopping athletes from going back onto the field after a concussion and potentially compound the damage.
"People have been trying to develop a test that would work like this for a long time," Nowinksi said, "I think this is the best evidence so far that we’re getting close to finding a single protein that can be measured that correlates with concussion. "There’s no question that the military needs a test like this as does the sports world … There’s a huge need across many different groups. Whether or not you could see it being used on the sideline of a Pop Warner game is a different story. You’d have to step through a lot of hoops to get there. But theoretically it’s possible."
Brain trauma is a complex problem, and it's one that must be approached from many angles (rule changes and scientific research being just two examples) before we can come close to a solution.