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Seton, Madeira girls' soccer teams participating in Cincinnati Children's Hospital concussion study

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Posted at 11:37 AM, Aug 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-10 12:58:44-04

CINCINNATI -- Seton soccer player Kelly Byrne and her teammates understand the concerns over concussions in their sport.

That’s why Seton and Madeira are so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of a comprehensive concussion study this season involving Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

“It’s really exciting,” said Byrne, a center midfielder. “Everyone is super pumped. It’s really cool because it’s going to be published eventually.”

The Seton soccer team Tuesday night. Phil Didion | WCPO contributor

As WCPO.com first reported in May, Connecticut-based Q30 Sports Science has provided money to help Cincinnati Children’s Sports Medicine Research team pursue a study involving the Q-Collar, a special investigational collar that may reduce the number of concussions in contact sports.

“It’s important to understand the potential protective effect of the collar in a number of athletes,” Dr. Gregory Myer told WCPO.com. “It’s important to get out and study non-helmeted sports.”

Myer is director of research for the Division of Sports Medicine and the director of the Human Performance Lab at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Myer’s team conducted a high school football study during the 2015 season that involved 32 St. Xavier players wearing the Q-Collar while 30 Moeller players did not wear the collar. The differences in the groups were significant and the study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in mid-June.

The collar puts slight pressure on the jugular vein to increase intracranial blood volume in order to decrease what is often referred to as “brain slosh.” Wearing the collar is safe and merely imitates yawning, according to Dr. David Smith, who discovered slosh theory in 2007 and has worked closely with Dr. Myer at Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Myer is curious to discover whether a similar response in brain imaging exists between the two groups in the girls’ soccer study this season. Seton and Madeira players will be tracked throughout the season, which could potentially conclude in the state finals Nov. 11 in Columbus.

There are 75 total players from the Seton and Madeira girls’ soccer teams (junior varsity and varsity combined) participating. Madeira is the control group and is not wearing the collar. Both teams are wearing an accelerometer, which studies the head impacts. The accelerometer adheres like a bandage and is replaced after each game.

Seton senior Kelly Byrne doesn’t notice the Q-Collar during the game. Phil Didion | WCPO contributor

“We know that the female athlete tends to respond to lower-level head impacts with concussive symptoms and they tend to have longer symptoms,” Dr. Myer said. “In general they tend to be more susceptible to head impact, so we want to really help protect their population as well.”

Madeira coach Dan Brady said nearly everybody in his program -- 27 players -- is participating in the study.

“The girls seem to be embracing the importance of the study and feel the information gathered by the (researcher team) will benefit soccer players later on down the road,” Brady said.

Seton hosted its first junior varsity and varsity scrimmages Tuesday night at the Panther Athletic Complex and wore the collars for the first time in a competitive game atmosphere.

Seton senior Kelly Byrne wears the Q-Collar and displays the accelerometer behind her ear. Phil Didion | WCPO contributor

The Seton players have been wearing the collars for nearly two weeks and feel more comfortable since the initial usage. Dr. Myer and his team have advised the players not to feel “invincible” on the field while with heading the ball with the Q-Collar. Nor should the players alter the way the game is played, he said.

Seton athletic trainer Cindy Busse is glad girls’ soccer is receiving the attention for concussions and said this cutting-edge study could be a game-changer for the safety of the sport.

Data from the Ohio High School Athletic Association suggests girls’ soccer as having one of the highest number of concussions reported among sports in the state.

It’s important to note the OHSAA only collects data from game officials’ reports (the times when an official is involved in removing a student-athlete from a game due to a suspected concussion). So that is an unofficial count of concussions statewide.

Girls’ soccer was the No. 1 reported sport for concussions in the 2015-16 between fall and winter sports seasons. Girls’ soccer accounted for 128 concussions compared to 114 for football, according to OHSAA records.

In 2014-15, there were 53 reported concussions in girls’ soccer and 101 in football. In 2013-14, there were 84 reported concussions in girls’ soccer and 199 in football.

Dr. Myer said the girls’ soccer study is another step toward aiding student-athletes who are playing or considering to play a certain sport.

“I think the biggest thing is we are extremely motivated to help save sports,” Dr. Myer said. “What’s driving our division and why we are so interested in this novel approach is we know that the biggest problem in our youth is not concussion, it’s actually physical inactivity.”

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