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Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology faculty collaborates in concussion research

Georgia Southern Waters College of Health Professions Assistant Professor Tamerah Hunt, Ph.D., has teamed up with researchers from the Seattle Pediatric Concussion Research Collaborative and Seattle Children’s Center for Childhood Health, Behavior and Development to develop the program, One Team, which addresses safety and concussion awareness in youth sports.

Hunt, in collaboration with Seattle Pediatric Concussion Research Collaborative and Seattle Children’s Center for Childhood Health, Behavior and Development members, Sara Chrisman, M.D., and Emily Kroshus, Ph.D., have been developing the logistics of One Team since 2016.

A $1.6 million grant was awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for this research, will be used to fund development and implementation of the One Team program that will focus on children ages 9 to 13 in youth football and soccer leagues in the Puget Sound region and southern Georgia.

“While we are still learning about the long-term consequences of concussion and the effect of injury on adults and high school athletes, less is known about youth sports,” said Hunt. “The middle school age range is particularly concerning because it is a time when children are more susceptible to brain injury and higher participation rates in organized sports with concussion risk, such as soccer and football.”

The program’s goal is to decrease concussion risk in athletes who participate in youth sports by encouraging athletes to behave with sportsmanlike conduct to decrease the chance of illegal and dangerous collisions.

One Team will initiate safety huddles prior to the start of games to address sportsmanship as well as concussion reporting with coaches, officials, parents and athletes. During the safety huddles, athletes will be encouraged not to engage in illegal and dangerous collisions that could lead to concussions and to report concussive symptoms.  

“We believe including everyone involved in youth sports (coaches, officials, parents and athletes) into the huddle will emphasize the importance of sportsmanship and concussion reporting. This consistent message will directly influence behavior during the game, and the huddle will change the culture of sport over the course of a season,” said Hunt.

Researchers will spend the first year refining the program followed by a year-long randomized controlled trial evaluating outcomes in sportsmanship and reporting concussive symptoms.

To learn more about the Waters College of Health Professions, visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu/CHP.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research institution founded in 1906, offers 142 degree programs serving more than 27,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Savannah, Statesboro, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

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