Local Researchers Look for Connection Between Neck Strength, Brain Injuries

August 21, 2017 07:01 PM

Charlene Barron was a wife, a mother and an athlete. She ran more than 40 marathons and completed nine triathlons.

"My mom was energetic and fun loving," said her son, Eric Barron.


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One year ago, a bike accident lead to a fatal traumatic brain injury. To honor Charlene Barron, her family is pushing for brain injury prevention research that could help other female athletes.

"She'd be very proud to have more female athletes participating and pursuing lifelong goals," Eric Barron said.

That's where Dr. Uzma Samadani and her research team at Hennepin County Medical Center come in. They are trying to determine whether females are more susceptible to concussions and other sports-related brain injuries.

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"We are looking at how neck strength can reduce incidents, duration and severity of concussion symptoms in youth athletes," Samadani said.

They are zeroing in on females because their necks typically are not as strong.

Samadani is trying to determine if simple neck-strengthening exercises can make a difference. HCMC is recruiting 1,500 teens to participate in a trial where the teens perform the exercises and researchers track the potential impact.

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"We could recommend that the exercises are part of physical education programs for elementary school kids, so by the time they get to sports-playing age they have stronger necks," she said.

It's research that could make playing more safe.

And it's a way to honor someone like Charlene Barron, who believed in playing hard.

"She would want younger athletes to try and pursue their dreams," Eric Barron said.

Charlene Barron's family is holding a fundraiser to benefit HCMC's brain injury research. Click here to learn more


Ellen Galles

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