Brain Injury Research in North Carolina, The Research Project, Week Thirty Three

Since I suffered a pretty substantial knee injury playing football in High School I still cringe when I’m watching a sporting event and a player hurts their knee. If they show a replay of the injury I turn my head away. It’s too hard to watch.

Head injuries are probably second on my list of cringe-worthy injuries and obviously a lot more serious. There has been a lot in the news lately about concussions with some high-profile athletes and their families speaking out about their experience with brain injuries and with the release of the movie Concussion which tells the real life story of Dr. Bennet Omalu who, through research and perseverance, compelled the National Football League to do something about the long-term affects of brain injuries among its players.

Kayla Harvey, a student at Elon University in North Carolina, knows about concussions from a personal standpoint. During a dance class she was kicked in the head which caused a concussion that left her with severe headaches.

Harvey has been working with Dr. Eric Hall from Elon University’s BrainCARE program to study five years of data from Elon’s sports teams to help understand how student-athletes recover from concussions.

One area that Harvey is focusing on is how those who have ADD and ADHD recover from concussions. Some of the data suggests that those who have these conditions may take up to twice as long to recover from a brain injury.

Athletes often feel pushed to recover and get back in the game, Harvey said, and outside influences can interfere with recovery time. “Athletes experience internal pressure from themselves and external pressure from coaches to recover quickly,” she said. “Concussions often aren’t given the same patience as a physical injury because from the outside, the athlete appears to be fine.”

Founded in 1889, Elon has built a national reputation as a premier student-centered liberal arts university that values strong relationships between its 6,500 students and their faculty and staff mentors. The university is ranked the nation’s #1 master’s-level university for study abroad and is a top-producer of Fulbright Student Scholars. U.S. News & World Report recognizes Elon more than any other university in the nation for academic programs that “Focus on Student Success.”

Its 636-acre campus in central North Carolina is designated as a botanical garden and includes the 56-acre Elon University Forest, a land preserve and natural area for scientific research; and Loy Farm, a center for environmental research and sustainability that includes a solar farm.

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