U of R researchers studying long-term effects of concussions on athletes

A study being conducted at the University of Regina in conjunction with researchers around the globe is looking at oxygen levels in the brain and the long-term effects of concussions.

Study is part of global initiative involving academics in U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand

Patrick Neary said there are more than 400,000 Canadians who receive concussions each year. (CBC News)

A concussion could affect something as simple as someone's ability to complete a crossword puzzle. 

Now, a team of researchers at the University of Regina's kinesiology department are studying the long-term effects of concussions on athletes.

The research aims to compare athletes in contact sports to those in non-contact sports, Neary said. The research is part of a global initiative involving researchers in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.

Neary said if all goes well, the study should be hitting the printing press during the summer. (CBC News)

Professor Patrick Neary said as the number of concussions a person experiences increases, so does the likelihood that long-term lingering effects will be felt.

"We're hoping we can help with some sort of a rehabilitation based on the information and data we collected and then hopefully we can move forward that way," Neary said.

Neary said he hopes the study will show that people who have had concussions will recover from the effects.

More than 400,000 people suffer concussions each year in Canada and approximately 3.8 million people experience them in the U.S.

Sgrazzutti says he has had two concussions which could be considered serious. (CBC News)

Rugby player Nathan Sgrazzutti said he has had two serious concussions. He described the experience of going into the E.R. as "almost a day-to-day" feeling.

"It definitely brings to the forefront the idea that we need to be very careful with our mental stability, making sure that we're not creating issues for ourselves longer term. It makes it almost easier for us to prove to ourselves why we need to take that time off that's recommended," Sgrazzutti said.

Sgrazzutti said the study highlights the need for athletes to take proper time off rather than rushing back to the game.

Neary added testing began 10 years ago. Western Hockey League teams, university athletes, high school football athletes and individuals who have had concussions have been tested over the years. 

New Zealand researchers have found that retired rugby players have experienced three or more concussions have shown cognitive decline. 

Depending on the number of participants in the study, the study should hit the printing press during the summer.