AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Darrell K Royal Research Fund has provided a half-million-dollar grant to support a study aimed at understanding how college sports can impact brain health later in life.
However, the study is still 100 women short of its goal of reaching 500 total participants — 250 men and 250 women — by September.
UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute is conducting the study, focusing on former college athletes over the age of 50, who didn’t go on to play professional sports.
“All of us associated with the DKR Fund believe this is something that coach Royal would really want to know,” DKR Research Fund president Debbie Hanna said. “Mrs. Royal has been very supportive of this effort from the beginning.”
The College Level Aging Athlete Study, or CLEAATS, has already surveyed over 400 participants in both contact and non-contact sports.
In the data collected thus far, 63% of the participants — 254 total — are made up of males.
The most common sport surveyed thus far is football, with 137 participants.
Dr. Munro Cullum is a professor at UT Southwestern and a co-principal investigator of CLEAATS, which is a “state-wide investigation designed to advance knowledge of collegiate sports participation and sport-related concussion in relation to current brain wellness,” according to its website.
“We’re really trying to get the word out there now about non-football participants,” Cullum said. “Especially females, to get them to sign up too.”
Dr. Cullum is also clinical neuropsychologist, who specializes in the assessment of cognitive disorders.
He said the study was originally aimed at surveying former athletes in Texas.
However, in an effort to have more former female athletes, they’re now surveying former student-athletes across the country.
“Not as much is known about former college athletes and even less is known about former female college athletes as they age,” Dr. Cullum said.
Some other interesting takeaways from the data collected thus far include the following:
- The majority (39%) of subjects have earned master’s degrees, with bachelor’s degrees (38%) trailing closely behind.
- Out-of-state participants make up 72.7% of the current sample.
- Approximately 89% of the sample reports being Caucasian.
The doctors involved with CLEAATS hope to have more females surveyed, yet males are still encouraged to sign up for the study.
To participate in the study, former college athletes must complete an online survey. This will be followed by a telephone interview about their history of athletic participation and current aspects of wellness, mood and cognition.
To enroll in the study, you can click this link.