PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Varsity athletes at Pitt are participating in a large new study on concussions.
Today, Pitt softball and baseball players participated in a battery of pre-season concussion evaluations.
“Concussions, I mean, can happen any pitch. You can have a guy getting hit. You can have a ball getting hit back at you. Guys getting hit. There are collisions on the base paths. I mean it happens all the time,” baseball player Sam Mersing said.
The tests are part of a nationwide $30 million study. Funding comes from the Department of Defense and the NCAA.
With an estimated 25,000 participants, it is considered the largest concussion study ever done.
“We feel that these are people that can give us some very solid baseline measurements that can be applied again to anybody who experiences a head injury,” UPMC concussion researcher Jane Sharpless said.
The highly regarded ImPACT test is given to all participants across the country.
“It’s all memory stuff. It’s trying to get an understanding of what we see, what we know, what we can remember when we are of pretty clear mind. And then obviously, when it comes back that if you do have a concussion it, you can use it to go back to that,” Mersing said.
Researchers also include tests for the eyes and how the athletes track objects. They work to educate the students, too.
“If you have one and you keep playing, you can just make it worse and worse for yourself and sometimes, you don’t even know you have one because it can be so mild and you are putting yourself at risk and your body at risk playing with that or practicing with that,” softball player Giorgiana Zeremenko said.
“All these athletes are just willing to give us their time and when they get injured, they also allow us to be alongside when they are being treated in their recovery and it’s just giving us a lot of rich data,” Sharpless said.
Part of this concussion assessment, research and education (CARE) consortium involves tracking some athletes for years to provide a long-term look at concussions along with the short-term benefits.