By Ginna Royalty
True or False: A concussion generally isn’t considered severe unless the athlete lost consciousness or “blacked out.” This is just one of the misperceptions that Professor Eric Hall addressed during the 2017 Distinguished Scholar Lecture on Thursday, Feb. 2. Hall, professor of exercise science and co-director of the Elon BrainCare Research Institute, discussed who is most at risk for concussions, how a concussion impacts the body and how someone can recover.
“There really is no predicting how many concussions a person can sustain before they retire,” Hall said after falsifying the “three strikes” belief, “Three concussions in 10 years in different than three concussions in one or two years. And if you can recover with that typical seven to 10-day window or sooner, a doctor may not be as concerned.”
Hall began his research on the link between mental health and physical activity as well as concussions about nine years ago after doing research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for his master’s and doctoral degrees. He then started collaborating with Elon’s Athletic Department to perform baseline concussion testing on athletes, which has helped immensely with his research.
“Awareness is increasing, and I think people are a lot more in tune with what concussions are,” Hall said. “I still think there are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings of the injury, though.”
Knowledge of the impact of concussions has grown in the past years, with more research and discussions regarding the topic being done. In 2015, “Concussion” hit the big screens starring Will Smith and based on the work Dr. Bennet Omalu has done regarding brain damage in retired NFL players.
Just last week USA Football confirmed its plans to test new rules in youth football to reduce the risk of injury. The field will be smaller, there will be fewer players per team, and there will not be any kicking.
In the future Hall hopes to research the connections between athletes who suffer from concussions and the likelihood they will have other physical injuries in the 90 days following recovery. To keep continuing this discussion, Elon BrainCARE will be hosting a symposium on concussions and mental health in Lakeside Meeting Rooms on April 6 from 3 to 7 p.m.