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UB conducting new study on concussions, in need of youth sports athletes

Inside UB's Brain Function and Recovery Lab, researchers are delving deeper into the impacts of concussions.

AMHERST, N.Y. — From local high schools to pro teams, Thanksgiving is a big football day. 

Researchers at the University at Buffalo are launching a new concussion study and are in need of athletes in youth sports to participate. 

UB for years has been studying traumatic brain injuries and impacts from them. 

Inside UB's Brain Function and Recovery Lab, researchers are delving deeper into the impacts of concussions. 

"This study is looking at if children after concussion loses more balance when they do two tasks at the same time," said Dr. Ghazala Saleem, assistant  professor at the Department of Rehabilitation Science at UB.

"We are looking at if children who have sustained or have experienced concussion use different brain areas to balance themselves compared to healthy children, or children who have had an upper arm similar injury."

They're also looking at the possible differences between boys and girls. 

Saleem says the Institutional Review Board has approved this study.

Researchers are in need of 135 athletes between the ages of 8 and 17, who have either suffered a concussion or suffered a broken arm, wrist or finger within the past year.

Participants get $50 for a 90-minute assessment at UB. UB students have been putting up flyers in sports arenas, camps, and doctors offices to get more participants involved. 

"We are using a sophisticated, non-evasive instrument to assess brain areas and those areas that are contributing to balance," Dr. Saleem said.

Ray Turpin, the president of the Niagara Erie Youth Sports Association, says awareness of concussions emerged after the movie "Concussion" was released in 2015. 

"There was some knee-jerk reaction to that, and then there was some scientific medical reaction to that, which continues to this day," Turpin said.

He says the NFL -- with its platform -- has accelerated awareness, treatment, and prevention with the NFL's Concussion Protocol.

"From a youth football and cheerleading position, I can say that our coaches' leadership, with all our different organizations, have a better understanding of concussion," Turpin said.

And with youth sports always changing -- the more proven science we have the better. 

"What happens today to one person may not affect them at all for the rest of their life, but what happens today to another person may impact them significantly," Turpin said.

Here is more information about UB's concussion program.