AUSTIN – December 12, 2016 – The nation’s largest statewide effort to track concussions among high school student-athletes will begin with the launch of a registry in Texas designed to track brain injuries in high school sports. UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute
The data will contribute to concussion research and is expected to provide a gauge for whether certain rules or equipment changes are improving player safety in UIL athletics.
“This is a groundbreaking initial step. I think we’re on the verge of a very impactful project that will inform the nation about the frequency and some basic information about concussion and recovery in student-athletes,” said Dr. Munro Cullum, Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Neurotherapeutics and Neurological Surgery with the O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
The UIL has partnered with the O’Donnell Brain Institute to implement the ConTex registry to be used by UIL-member schools. The registry will include concussion cases reported by middle and high school athletic trainers and other school personnel in all UIL-sanctioned athletic activities. The UIL has more than 1,400 member schools and 800,000 student-athletes, and is the first association of its kind to launch a registry of this magnitude.
“The health and safety of our student participants is at the forefront of everything we do,” said Charles Breithaupt, UIL Executive Director. “The UIL Medical Advisory Committee has been focused on concussions since its inception 15 years ago and this concussion registry will provide valuable information and help us continue to improve the safety of extracurricular athletics.”
The UIL Medical Advisory recommended the UIL Legislative Council implement an injury data collection program as a tool to improve player safety and continue monitoring concussions in UIL athletic activities.
The project is modeled after a smaller concussion study (ConTex1) that Dr. Cullum helped launch last year that tracks more detailed information about concussions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He also led a first-of-its-kind study published last year that found NFL players who lost consciousness due to concussion showed key differences in brain structure later in life.
The statewide registry relies on athletic trainers and school personnel across Texas to report all concussions that occur in UIL athletics to a central database through an app or online site developed by Medical Innovation Labs in Austin. Among the information being tracked is the cause of the injury, concussion history, the gender of the player and other data. During this school year, UIL-member schools will participate on a voluntary basis, with plans to expand reporting next school year.
Dr. Cullum, the principal investigator of both ConTex studies, said his team will measure how often concussions occur in each sport, identify areas with low rates, and with more data eventually examine whether certain practices are helping to reduce concussions or shorten recovery times in those areas.
The statewide registry is funded through UT Southwestern’s Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair. TIBIR was established with $7.5 million in annual funding from the Texas Legislature to explore the full spectrum of brain injuries from strokes to spinal cord injuries.
About UT Southwestern Medical Center
UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty includes many distinguished members, including six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. The faculty of almost 2,800 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.
About the University Interscholastic League
The University Interscholastic League was created by The University of Texas at Austin to provide leadership and guidance to public school debate and athletic teachers. Since 1910 the UIL has grown into the largest inter-school organization of its kind in the world. The UIL exists to provide educational extracurricular academic, athletic, and music contests. The UIL continues to operate as part of The University of Texas at Austin, under the auspices of the Vice President for Diversity & Community Engagement. For more information, please visit www.uiltexas.org