Big Ten, Ivy League pair up for concussion research project

Andrew Krammer

The Big Ten and Ivy League conferences announced Tuesday they will partner up on a joint research project to better understand concussions in sports, particularly football. The study will involve 20 schools and thousands of athletes across the country.

Concussions have become a major issue in sports. Lawsuits have been filed in the National Football League, where former players claim the league hid the damaging long-term effects of head injuries.

Research has shown that many former NFL players like Dave Duerson, who committed suicide last year, suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE — which is a degenerative disease caused by repeated hits to the head that leads to depression, among other symptoms. Duerson shot himself in the chest, presumably so his brain could be studied.

While concussion research has increased in recent years, studies have been limited because diseases like CTE can only be diagnosed after the person has died. It is not fully understood how concussions affect living NFL players or even college and high school athletes.

"What's missing, even though there's been some good research, is a longitudinal study governed by common protocol," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN.com. "Measuring before college, in college and post-college."

ESPN reported that student-athletes have already volunteered and the Big Ten/Ivy study has started to research head trauma before, during and after competition.

In 2010, the Big Ten became the first college conference to establish a concussion management plan.