FRC athletics participates in concussion study

Representatives from Feather River College’s athletics department meet with members of the Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research team at the college Aug. 7. The team will be testing FRC athletes throughout the next year, hoping to gather information on concussions.Photo by James Wilson
James Wilson
Sports Editor
For the first time in the history of sports medicine, an accurate way to quickly test for concussions is under development, and Feather River College’s athletes are helping with the research.

FRC athletics, picked as the only college athletic program involved in the study, is participating with the Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research on developing a high-tech way of testing for concussions. Currently, tests done on the sidelines to assess a head injury can produce inconclusive or even false results.

The Truckee-based institute believes it has pinpointed a way to determine whether an athlete has a concussion or not quickly. Though details on the institute’s techniques were not revealed, research representative Dr. Keith Tatsukawa asserted the techniques involve state-of-the-art technology created at the Tahoe institute.

“Concussions are so individual,” said Tatsukawa on the institute’s approach to the research being done. “We’re looking for a method to evaluate concussions in a quick fashion on the sidelines.”

Concussions on the field can be extremely dangerous for athletes. If an athlete goes back on the field too early and is concussed again, serious brain damage can occur. The Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research hopes to make this problem a thing of the past by creating individual tests tailored to each athlete.

Tatsukawa and his colleagues from the institute spent Aug. 7 at FRC administering initial assessments on the student athletes. The goal last Thursday was to get a normal reading from the students.

Based on observations of the research team testing FRC’s athletes, it is apparent that cognitive tests will play a large part in the way athletes will be evaluated on the sidelines this year at FRC. The technology the institute is developing will undoubtedly play another large part.

Throughout this next year, if FRC’s athletes believe they may have a concussion, a similar test will be administered and the results will be compared with the initial readings. Researchers hope to diagnose concussions based on differences in the brain’s signature.

Tatsukawa stated his team of doctors will focus on more high-risk sports, but all the athletes at the college will be tested. The research institute is hoping to collect enough data this year to prove its previous findings, and administer its techniques on a lager scale.

Eventually, the methods tested on FRC athletes through the next year may be used in every high school, college and professional venue throughout the world.

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