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Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Sun Devilsí Real-Time Head Impact Data and Genetic Information Could Provide Keys to Advancement in Player Protection and Performance
Riddell, TGen Welcome ASU Football Program as First-Ever Collegiate Partner in Genetic Study of Concussion Detection, Treatment
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 09/12/2013
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ROSEMONT, Ill. and TEMPE, Ariz. — Riddell, the leader in football helmet technology and innovation, today announced that the Pac-12’s Arizona State University and its Sun Devil football program will participate as the first university research partner in a new study designed to advance athlete concussion detection and treatment. This potentially groundbreaking joint research project is the first of its kind to combine molecular information with the monitoring of head impacts. 

Working with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and its research partners, the Sun Devil football team will participate in the study to identify whether the effects of sub-concussive hits are identifiable through blood-based molecular information. The researchers will monitor the players’ changing molecular information throughout a season of typical head impact exposure associated with football practice and games.

The Riddell Sideline Response System (SRS) has been deployed for use at Arizona State University for the 2013 college football season to obtain real-time head impact data from Sun Devil football players.  Information gathered from the system will be combined with molecular information from players that experience concussion, with the objective of helping physicians diagnose concussion and better identify when a player might be expected to recover and return to the field. TGen and Riddell announced their research collaboration in May.

Today’s football is played with ever-increasing levels of speed, strength and overall performance, with an unrelenting demand for cutting-edge protection to match.  Elite players turn to Riddell for its advanced equipment that allows for the highest level of performance, while providing that same level of protection when it matters most – on game day.

“Our goal is to be leaders in the community, on and off the field, and partnering with industry pioneers like Riddell and TGen enables us to be proactive in helping to advance the game and enrich the lives of our student-athletes,” said Steve Patterson, Vice President for Sun Devil Athletics. “Involvement in this study is consistent with our long-term goals, and also increases awareness and understanding of this important topic, as well as furthers the Pac-12’s Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative.”

The Sun Devils’ medical team, consisting of athletic trainers and physicians, will not see the data or interpret any results until the end of the season, and the student-athletes wearing the Riddell SRS sensors in their helmets volunteered to partake in the study.

At the heart of the study is merging a player’s molecular information with real-time head impact information captured by Riddell’s exclusive SRS technology. Riddell, in partnership with          Simbex, LLC, was the first to introduce a helmet-based player monitoring and response system to the sport of football. The data output provides researchers, athletic staff and players with a wide range of valuable information – transmitted directly to the sidelines via wireless communication – on the frequency and severity of head impacts a player receives during games and practices. Riddell SRS has captured over 1.8 million impacts from youth to elite football competition since instituted in 2003 by several well-respected research institutions, leading to important rule changes and informing new helmet designs.

With the high expectations for the Sun Devil football team this year, Arizona State’s implementation of Riddell SRS reinforces the school’s commitment to their student athletes’ well-being and helps to ensure they’re performing at the optimal level. 

“Together with Arizona State University, TGen and our other important research partners, we at Riddell hope to answer a number of key questions that will lead to improved player protection, inform our continued development of new helmet innovations and further refine player monitoring technology,” said Dan Arment, President of Riddell. 

Among those questions is whether the effects of sub-concussive hits are identifiable through blood-based molecular information that could unlock new opportunities for innovation and advancement of the game. Researchers at TGen, along with their colleagues, hope to find the answers in the data.

During this phase of the study, TGen faculty and staff have been on the sidelines working closely with their colleagues at Barrow Neurological Institute, A.T. Still University and Desert Testing collecting samples and data.

A baseline sample was collected from all participating players prior to their pre-season workouts. Since then, the researchers have followed the team through their daily workouts and will continue throughout the season, securing samples the day after each practice or game. Through the collection of samples over various points in time and the data generated by Riddell SRS, the goal is to identify the genomic changes in athletes exposed to routine head impacts during practice and games, athletes with diagnosed concussions that recover on both a routine time scale, and athletes with persistent symptoms following concussion that require additional treatment.

“There is no time to waste in bridging the information gathered through Riddell SRS and the genomic information we will gather to hopefully glean a clearer picture of how concussions impact human neurological function in terms of injury, recovery and future risk for long term complications. We are indeed excited to join the ASU football program and Riddell in this pioneering study,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen President and Research Director.

Following the season long campaign, the researchers will gather post-season baseline data and begin the analysis process with their colleagues at Barrow Neurological Institute and A.T. Still University. During this process, TGen will work closely with Barrow, whose B.R.A.I.N.S. (Barrow Resource for Acquired Injury to the Nervous System) program treats patients who have sustained a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury. The Barrow data will provide the researchers with additional concussion data and allow for comparison between data sets. 

About Riddell

Founded in 1929, Riddell is a premier designer and developer of protective sports equipment and a recognized leader in helmet technology and innovation. One of Easton-Bell Sports Inc.’s most well-known brands and the Official Helmet of the NFL®, Riddell is the leading manufacturer of football helmets, shoulder pads and reconditioning services (cleaning, repairing, repainting and recertifying existing equipment). For more information, visit our website at www.riddell.com, like the Riddell Facebook page, or follow Riddell on Twitter @RiddellSports.

About Arizona State University

Arizona State University is one of the top 100 research universities in the world and fifth in the United States for producing career-ready graduates with the skills to succeed in the workforce. It is the largest public research university in the nation under a single administration, with total student enrollment of more than 76,000 in metropolitan Phoenix, the nation’s fifth-largest city. ASU is creating a new model for American higher education, an unprecedented combination of academic excellence, entrepreneurial energy and broad access.  This New American University is a single, unified institution comprising four differentiated campuses positively impacting the economic, social, cultural and environmental health of the communities it serves.  Its research is inspired by real world application, blurring the boundaries that traditionally separate academic disciplines.  ASU champions intellectual and cultural diversity, and welcomes students from all fifty states and more than one hundred nations across the globe. 

About TGen

Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, and diabetes, through cutting edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research towards patient benefit).  TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and rare complex diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities literally world-wide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org.

About Barrow Neurological Institute

Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center is an internationally renowned medical center that offers care for people from throughout the world with brain and spine diseases, disorders and injuries. Barrow performs more neurosurgeries annually than any hospital in the United States. U.S. News & World Report routinely lists St. Joseph's among the best hospitals in the nation for neurological and neurosurgical care.

About AT Still University

Established in 1892 by A.T. Still, MD, DO, the founder of osteopathy, A.T. Still University began as the nation’s first college of osteopathic medicine and has evolved into a leading university of health sciences comprised of one college and four schools on two campuses and online. Today we offer master’s degrees across allied health disciplines; doctorates in health education, physical therapy, health sciences, and audiology; the doctor of dental medicine; and the doctor of osteopathic medicine.

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