26 September 2023

UC sporting research to tackle concussion

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The University of Canberra’s Research Institute for Sport and Exercise (UCRISE) has partnered with the Australian Institute of Sport and University of Newcastle to study the long-term effects of concussion on elite athletes.

Professor of Sport Medicine at UCRISE, Gordon Waddington said the Concussion and Brain Health Project 2021-24 would examine the brain health of roughly 150 retired athletes who had suffered concussions during their sporting careers.

“(The) work will look at an athlete’s performance across several years, as opposed to previous studies which have only taken a limited snapshot of brain health,” Dr Waddington said.

“There’s no clear research that shows what effect brain knocks have on long-term brain change,” he said.

“This is the really important aspect of our research and there’s no easy way to do this − it just takes time.”

Dr Waddington said the Project would see UCRISE build on its world-leading research into the psychophysical effects of concussion, while the University of Newcastle examined the cognitive brain health of participants.

He said the Project would also involve an additional 150 elite athletes from non-collision sports as a control group, to compare the outcomes of participants who had not suffered concussions with those who had.

“Athletes are like workers in any other industry, and sporting organisations should understand the best practice for looking after their workers,” he said.

“We want people to continue to play sport because we know that it’s so important for our social development, our fitness and prevention of chronic disease,” Dr Waddington said.

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