UCLA to study concussions with new football helmet sensors

Nearly two dozen UCLA football players have been given new helmets with sensors, part of a $30 million study into concussions.

Funded by an initiative involving both the NCAA and the U.S. Department of Defense, the use of the helmets are part of a three-year study that also includes other universities across the country. The 22 Bruins who have the helmets will be tracked for the speed, intensity and location of the hits they take during practices and games.

“Our goal is to develop scientific, evidence-based tools that will enable doctors to more accurately gauge when it is safe for an athlete to return to play,” Christopher Giza, director of the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, said in a statement.

The football players, as well as members of the men’s and women’s soccer team, had already begun baseline testing to measure balance, memory, cognitive function, and reaction time.

John DiFiori, UCLA athletic’s head physician, said the findings will help identify and prevent brain injuries in athletes who may be more susceptible to them.

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UCLA’s list of possible concussions swells to seven

Head cases have beset the Bruins this August.

Whether exacerbated by the San Bernardino heat or simply a bit of bad luck, seven UCLA players were sidelined Tuesday with concussion-like symptoms — taking a large chunk of the offensive line.

“I don’t know why we seem to have this rash of head injuries,” Mora said. “I’m not sure how serious all of them are, but we’re going to treat them all as if they’re very serious.”

The line was without redshirt sophomores Kevin McReynolds and Ben Wysocki, as well as true freshmen Alex Redmond, Poasi Moala and John Lopez. Redmond and Wysocki were competing at right guard, while Moala had taken the majority of second-team snaps at right tackle.

The attrition shuffled what was gradually becoming a more stable line. In one first-team iteration, All-American Xavier Su’a-Filo moved from guard to left tackle, while backup center Carl Hulick slid to left guard.

“It kind of affects everything you do,” Mora said. “It affects the development of the depth. It affects our ability to practice the way we’d like to practice. We just have to modify it.”

Added Su’a-Filo: “When we have the luxury of numbers, we can run, one, two, three groups. With these concussions, we’ve just got to take more reps. We’ve got to make do with what we have.”

Defensive Ian Taubler and running back Malcolm Jones are also out with concussion-like symptoms.

OTHER INJURIES

Freshman defensive end Kylie Fitts suffered full-body cramps. Mora said he drank enough water afterward to gain 8.5 pounds. Junior linebacker Eric Kendricks has missed all team activities in fall camp recovering from an ankle procedure. He is expected to play in the Aug. 31 season opener, and may return to practice next week. Continue reading

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Larry Scott: Pac-12 to limit contact due to concussion worries

The Pac-12 will become the first major conference to restrict football contact due to concussion concerns.

Commissioner Larry Scott said in a Monday morning conference call that a new league policy will limit hits in practice to less than what the NCAA mandates. More details will be announced at Pac-12 Media Day on July 26.

The conference is also instituting a number of new health and safety initiatives, including a Head Trauma Task Force to study affects on athletes.

— Scott said there will be no further action regarding the officiating controversy surrounding Arizona head coach Sean Miller. Continue reading

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