BrainHealth Institute to Study Athlete Concussions

Research Will Focus on Treating Injuries Among Sports Professionals

Jan. 27, 2011

The Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas, a leading scientific research institute dedicated to understanding, protecting and healing the brain, has launched the BrainHealth Institute for Professional Athletes.

The institute will comprehensively address brain health issues associated with sports-related concussions and traumatic brain injuries while providing long-term follow-up and brain repair training. The goal of the institute is to provide players with a personalized understanding of their current neurologic and cognitive status and manage any needed treatments. The program is intended to minimize fear and empower players to take control of their personal brain health.

“More than 20 years of brain injury study has led Center for BrainHealth researchers to develop a plan for professional athletes,” said Dr. John Hart, medical science director at the Center for BrainHealth and one of the leaders of the BrainHealth Institute for Professional Athletes. “The Center for BrainHealth will employ an experienced team of multidisciplinary brain scientists and specialists with expertise in cognitive neuroscience, neurology, neuropsychology, brain repair, biomedical engineering and brain imaging to conduct this vital research into repercussions caused by brain injuries and how they affect the remainder of a player’s life.”

The institute “is a reflection of the way BrainHealth strives to improve the quality of life among those who face challenges,” said Dr. David E. Daniel, UT Dallas president. “We’re pleased to see this partnership developing between the center and the athletic community.”

The BrainHealth Institute for Professional Athletes will monitor brain changes to trigger timely treatments, build resilience and maximize brain repair to mitigate the long-term effects of concussions experienced by retired players. Former Dallas Cowboys player Daryl “Moose” Johnston and LeeRoy Jordan, along with James B. Francis Jr., are chairmen of the advisory board of the institute.

“Having played 11 years in the NFL and taking countless hits, I’ve heard about the struggles of the players that came before me and the challenges regarding their quality of life,” Johnston said. “Through the BrainHealth Institute for Professional Athletes, former players can find out if there is an issue, and if you catch it early enough, there are things you can do to improve your condition. The brain is regenerative, and we can restore faculties that just a few years ago were thought to be lost forever.”

The assessment and treatment plan for retired players will include a benchmark of cognitive abilities — including attention, memory, reasoning, problem-solving and speed of processing; MRI brain scans to document structural brain changes linked to injuries and changes associated with brain repair; brain training to restore as much cognitive function as possible; physical training to prevent cognitive decline and improve memory function in those with deficits; and, remote monitoring to examine lasting effects of sports brain injury.


Media Contact: Shelly Kirkland, UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth, (214) 905-3007, shelly.kirkland@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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Johnston, Chapman and Hart

Former Dallas Cowboys player Daryl “Moose” Johnston (left) is an advisory board chairman of the BrainHealth Institute for Professional Athletes. Dr. Sandra Chapman is the director of the Center for BrainHealth, and Dr. John Hart, the center's medical science director.

 

Brain scan

MRI brain scans can document structural brain changes linked to injuries and changes associated with brain repair.

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