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New Study to Focus on WI High School Athletes' Concussions

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A pilot study at UW-Madison will follow high school athletes post-concussion to try to develop new guidelines for parents and coaches. (thehague/iStockPhoto)
A pilot study at UW-Madison will follow high school athletes post-concussion to try to develop new guidelines for parents and coaches. (thehague/iStockPhoto)
 By Tim MorrisseyContact
August 29, 2016

MADISON, Wis. – Quite a bit of media attention has been directed at the serious and sometimes life-altering effects of concussions sustained by professional and college athletes.

But a new study just underway at the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Nursing and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health will examine what happens to athletes at the high school level and younger.

"By monitoring these student athletes immediately after their concussion – and beyond, for four to six weeks – we'll be able to sense specifically what some of those academic effects are, on performance or learning, post-concussion," says Traci Snedden, a UW-Madison postdoctoral fellow and co-leader of the study.

Snedden has worked as a pediatric emergency department nurse practitioner for a number of years. She says parents, teachers and coaches need to have a much better framework for recognizing and treating the effects of concussions on the field and in the classroom.

According to Snedden, this study is the first to attempt to learn about the academic effects of concussions on younger athletes.

"This study is unique in a few different ways,” she states. “First of all, it focuses solely on the high school student athlete population. And secondly, it focuses on what we call return to academics or return to classroom."

The study will initially seek to enroll 200 Madison-area high school athletes and their parents.

Snedden says there's already statewide interest in the study, and the researchers want to eventually expand it to include young athletes around the state.

She hopes the findings will help guide coaches, teachers and parents.

"So I think the findings that we hope to uncover will more so direct that concussion-based treatment or support team at the school level, so we can be sure that we're supporting the child or adolescent both at the field or play level, and in the classroom," Snedden says.



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