For the past decade-plus, sports fans have been deluged with concussion talk: From the movie Concussion to various documentaries and TV chatter about head injuries to stars and the future of America’s football colossus … and we still don’t know the half of it.
Why? Because studying concussions in the other half, women, is green science. Now, two researchers at Virginia Tech University, professor Steve Rowson and Ph.D. student Emily Kieffer are looking for answers on concussions and it has nothing to do with the NFL. Their landmark study is examining male and female rugby players side by side, using an engineered mouthpiece to measure impacts.
“We know a lot about 18- to 22-year-old males in a helmeted sport, football,” says Rowson, an associate professor in the department of biomedical engineering and mechanics. “This is going to be some of the first data to really identify concussion tolerance in unhelmeted populations.”