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Texas is launching a massive study on concussions in school athletic programs


Texas is set to launch the nation's largest study to track brain injuries in youth athletic programs this week, state officials say. 

The study will examine whether rules or equipment changes are improving safety for players and what more can be done to protect athletes from getting serious injuries. 

Officials say such a study in a state as large as Texas would be a major development toward the creation of a national database of brain injuries among young athletes. 

The University Interscholastic League, which oversees high school sports in the state, will partner with the O'Donnell Brain Institute at University of Texas Southwester Medical Center for the study. 

"Until we understand what the frequency of concussions is across the state, or a region of the state, we can't determine when rule changes, equipment changes or things like recovery programs are really being effective," said Dr. Munro Cullum, a professor of psychiatry, neurology and neurotherapeutics who will lead the study,  AP reported

Concussions are one of the leading causes of death among football players and officials have been looking in to ways to prevent traumatic brain injuries after a series of NFL players filed lawsuits.

Research has shown that repeated traumatic brain injuries can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which has led to player suicide memory loss, depression and dementia among retired football players. 

All 50 states have rules or laws on the books to address concussions in youth athletics programs. 

A recent study in Michigan, where schools are required to report concussions, showed 755 schools reported 4,452 head injuries in the 2015-2016 school year. Most of those were among football players, with 1,907 injuries. Girls basketball came in second with 454 head injuries. 

The CDC has estimated as many as 3.8 million concussions occur in sports each year. 

The Texas program will track head injuries in many different sports programs, not just football, and record what caused an injury, recovery time, and other data. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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