Researchers studying the effects on concussions on athletes hope the new film Concussion will raise awareness about the effects of head trauma on the brain.
Concussion is the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist who is credited with discovering Chronic Traumatic Emcephalopathy, or CTE. The progressive, degenerative brain disease has been diagnosed in numerous athletes who suffered repeated brain trauma, most notably in the NFL. The growing list includes former Buffalo Bills running back Cookie Gilchrist and the late star linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012.
Dr. Scott Darling with UBMD Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine says early baseline testing is a valuable tool for any athlete.
"You can't diagnose a concussion from a computerized test, but if they come in and get a baseline test, that gives us numbers to compare to. If they happen to have a concussion and come back, we can do the test all over again and see which areas are lower and then watch that improve over time," said Darling.
In conjunction with the release of the new film, anyone who brings a ticket stub from Concussion to the Summit Healthplex office in Niagara Falls can receive a free screening. From now until January 8, that screening is available at half-price, $10, for any athlete between the ages of 12 and 30.
Darling is part of a team researching whether early low-grade exercise can help speed up recovery from concussion.
"The current project is checking to see whether an athlete can be returned to play safely if we place them on the treadmill early on in the treatment course. Usually, the athlete is held out for weeks and just told to rest. Our research is looking at if we can put them on the treadmill and whether it's safe and effective in returning them to sports faster," Darling told WBFO.
Darling says he believes the new movie will make a positive impact.
"This film really raises the awareness of concussion," said Darling. "It's going to generate quite a bit of conversation and controversy and just raise the awareness of concussion, which I think is great, in general."
The number to call to book a screening appointment is (716) 238-5903.
WBFO's Avery Schneider contributed to this report.