Nightly News | December 05, 2011
>>> back now tonight with a story that will be of interest to any family of an athlete in a contact sport. it's about concussions. researchers are just now understanding so much more about them and reducing to lessen the injuries from them. it's going on in a place known for technology. the study is a first of its kind and our chief science correspondent robert bazell has more from palo alto , california.
>> oh, he was crushed.
>> reporter: when a stanford receiver got two concussions this season it provided critical information for a study. he's one of 20 players ranked fourth in the team who wear mouth guards full of electronics to transfer information to computers at the sidelines about the force and direction of every blow to the each player takes during every practice and every game.
>> the mouthpiece is measuring the brain's acceleration.
>> reporter: physicians say concussions are a serious injury but doubt they can be eliminated from the game.
>> the important thing to do is technology, technique, regulations to try to reduce the risk. the mouthguard is a measuring device .
>> reporter: with the testing device the researchers can show that forces to the helmet are accurately recorded. the idea is to use the mechanical mouthpiece to find out how much force and what kind causes a concussion. the research is just beginning. the hope is it will lead to better helmet design and other measures. scott anderson , the head athletic trainer says his task now is to get players with concussions a off the field.
>> we are looking for short-term and long-term memory recall, balance and coordination.
>> we're going to get a picture of your brain.
>> reporter: repeat concussions carry the greatest danger of lasting brain damage . a new study of high school athletes shows that brain changes from a single concussion can last for weeks. experts say the message to players, coaches and parents is whenever in doubt, get the athlete out of the game. robert bazell , nbc news, palo palo