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Bayly, a Mechanical Engineer at Washington University in St Louis, which was approached by several doctors who wanted advice about some young soccer players
"They said, 'Well, we've got some kids who have concussions and they can not go back to play soccer ball, '"Bayly recalls.
Does a header have a big effect or a small one? The doctors thought Bayly might have the answer.
"I said that's really interesting." I play soccer and my kids play soccer, and I do not know what's happening when you head for a soccer ball, "Bayly told them.
So in the early 2000s, Bayly got caught in the process
"The up and down of the force of gravity is a minor strike."
Gs when you hit the ground, "Bayly says. "When you play football, you have a hard collision with someone else, it's maybe 50 to 100 Gs."
But Bayly did not know what he was doing.
A lot of living human brains.
Bayly's lab has become an expert at using MRI techniques how the brain changes shape when a person's head moves.
In one experiment, volunteers quickly turned their heads.
More recently, the lab has been using a technique called "Magnetic Resonance" with a device that vibrates the skull. Charlotte Guertler, a graduate student in Bayly's Lab, shows me how it works.
"So your head is resting on this," she says, pointing to a foam cradle, "that's what vibrates the back of her head and that's how we see the waves inside your head. "
The waves are much more motivated by heading a soccer ball.
And in 2017, the team published a study in the Journal of Biomechanical Engineering [19459032
"People have built mental models of what's going on inside your head," Bayly says.
But the MRI images of a vibrating brain are a much more sophisticated system.
"What we saw, surprisingly, what that brain did not collide and bounce against the walls of the skull, but it was taken away from points of attachment," Bayly says.
These points of attachment are the separate from the skull. Bayly says.
"Your brain is much better protected and suspended than it would be if it were just rattling around inside your skull," hey says. 90 percent.
"But like any suspension system, it can fail," Bayly says. That can happen when impact is simply too powerful for the system to absorb.
One is a blow like a roundhouse punch to the chin, which causes a person's head to rotate violently.
Another dangerous impact is in the back of the head, which can happen when athletes fall backward and their head slams into the ground.
Scientists can not replicate these impacts in the lab, though, because it would not be safe for human participants in a study. Bayly says.
Even the Bayly is helping doctors understand why certain impacts are especially dangerous to the brain Mark Halstead, who directs the sports concussion clinic at St Louis Children's Hospital, is not involved in Bayly's research.
"We do not have the ability to take the brain out of the skull and look at it in a living." person, 'he says. "
And Bayly thinks he is a lot closer to answering the question that he got into research about Headly injury, Bayly says.
What's not clear, he says, is whether that's enough to prevent long-term damage in players who head to the ball or even thousands of times in games and practice.