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Ivy League, Big Ten to Combine Resources on Head-Injury Study

The Ivy League and Big Ten conference are teaming up to study head injuries in sports.

The two conferences, along with the Big Ten Committee on Institutional Cooperation, are sponsoring a joint study aimed at improving head-injury assessment and prevention.

The program, announced today in e-mailed releases from both National Collegiate Athletic Association conferences, will use resources from the 20 combined schools and data from their over 18,000 athletes.

“We look forward to working with the Big Ten to continue to study the effects of concussions and head injuries in sport,” Shirley Tilghman, Ivy League Council of Presidents chairwoman and Princeton University president, said in a release. “By pooling our expertise and resources, our institutions aim to significantly expand upon the research needed to improve long-term concussion-prevention measures.”

Discussion about the education, prevention and treatment of head injuries has become a popular topic in sports of all levels, particularly in football. The National Football League is facing lawsuits from more than 2,000 former players seeking damages for head injuries sustained on the field, and the Pop Warner youth football organization is limiting contact in practices to reduce the risk of concussions.

The Ivy League and the Big Ten said they were already independently working to research and address various aspects of head injuries in athletics, including concussions.

Existing Studies

The Big Ten developed a concussion management plan in 2010 and last year conducted a Head Injury Summit with experts from the fields of medicine, neurology, physics, engineering and biological sciences. The Ivy League has a similar procedure for allowing athletes to return to play following head injuries, and has convened ad hoc committees in the past two years to review concussions in football, soccer, lacrosse and ice hockey.

“The opportunity for collaborating on such a landmark series of studies with the Ivy League is unprecedented in sports medicine,” Dennis Molfese, Big Ten and CIC Research Collaboration Director and the University of Nebraska Director of the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior, said in the release. “This is a unique moment in the history of science.”

The Ivy League is an association of eight elite, Northeast U.S. schools that have high academic standards and don’t provide athletic scholarships. Founded in 1954 and based in Princeton, New Jersey, the conference sponsors 33 men’s and women’s sports with more than 8,000 student athletes competing each year.

The Big Ten sponsors 298 teams at 12 member universities, which provide over $136 million of athletic scholarship aid to almost 10,000 students, according to the release. The conference was formed in 1896 and is based in Park Ridge, Illinois.

Brady Concerns

The father of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player and three-time Super Bowl winner, is among the parents to express concern about children playing football as more links to long-term effects of head injuries are discovered.

Tom Brady Sr., who didn’t let his son play the sport until high school, told Yahoo Sports last month that if he had to make the same decision today, he’d be “very hesitant” about playing football at all. Brady played at the University of Michigan, a Big Ten school.

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