BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The NFL wants to make football safer for the players. The league announced Tuesday they were giving a $100,000 grant to the UB Sports Medicine Center to develop a way to tell when a player who's had a concussion can return to the field.
Dr. Barry Willer and his colleague, Dr. John Leddy, have been working on a way to determine that. An athlete who has recovered should be able to exercise up to the full capacity of his sport. How can you tell he's ready?
"Instead of just haphazardly doing that, sending an athlete back on the field, why not do it in a scientific standard fashion on a treadmill test?" Dr. Leddy questioned.
A reliable test would be very useful, because concussions are common.
Former Buffalo Bills receiver Lou Piccone said, "I don't believe you play football and you're not concussed. If you're not concussed, you're probably not playing. You're on the bench - that's just the way it is, because it is a contact sport."
The test they're developing is similar to the one used by cardiologists, with measurements of blood pressure and pulse.
Dr. Willer said, "The number one issue, and there are many issues, but the number one issue is when should a player return to play? When is it safe for a player to return to play?"
The test they're working on increases the grade of the treadmill every two minutes, allowing the exercise to gradually increase in intensity. If the athlete can reach maximal exercise without a headache, dizziness, or other concussion symptoms, he may be ready to return to action.
"The NFL is basically asking us to look at whether this is a potential tool for determining when someone should return to play," Dr. Willer said.
They'll also be investigating other aspects of recovery.
Dr. Leddy said, "What's going on with blood flow to the brain, what's going on with the nervous system that allows this test to be more objective?"
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