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Darrell K. Royal research fund launching $500,000 study of former college athletes' brain health

Recent research surrounding traumatic brain injuries, like CTE, in former athletes, has heightened the awareness of dangers within contact sports. However, there is further research happening in Texas that may provide more insight into brain injuries among former athletes of all sports.

A new study conducted by UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute looks at more athletes than just those who went professional in contact sports.

The College Level Aging Athlete Study, or CLEAATS, is backed by a $500,000 grant from the DKR Fund and looks at long-term brain wellness among former college athletes. The study is asking former NCAA and NAIA athletes, who are age 50 or older and participated in any contact or non-contact sport, to complete a brief 20-minute survey and subsequent telephone interview. The research is meant to gauge cognitive well-being on a broader scale than any previous study.

CLEAATS is led by Co-Principal Investigators Hunt Batjer, M.D. and Munro Cullum, Ph.D., along with with researchers Jeffrey Schaffer, Ph.D. and Nyaz Didehbani, Ph.D. Margot Putukian, M.D. serves as an advisor.

According to the CLEAATS website, “The purpose of this research is to survey brain health outcomes in aging former collegiate athletes by examining age/cohort effects, sex, sport type/position, concussion, treatment history, and sociodemographic factors.” The study’s secondary goal is to compare former collegiate athletes who have suffered concussions to those who haven’t and determine whether concussions lead to various health effects later in life.

CLEAATS is aiming to get at least 500 participants to engage in the survey, and while the study is Texas-based, individuals from other states can participate.

Different than previous brain studies, which have predominantly focused on male athletes in contact sports, CLEAATS is looking at a much broader pool of former athletes

“We’re really looking at the long-term effects of sports participation in general,” Schaffert told Austonia. “Whether that be contact sports or noncontact sports.”

The study hopes to define a subgroup of former athletes that may be more at risk later in life due to previous sport-related brain injuries. Schaffert said two groups CLEAATS is hoping to learn more from are women and older individuals.

“(Male football players) is a very specific population that doesn’t really capture the broader sports participation in the United States,” Schaffert said. “Taking data from professional American football players and extrapolating it to all college athletes, who may have head injury exposure, may not be valid.”

Schaffert said one of the reasons the CLEAATS was started is due to a previous research study, which is published in the journal Brain Injury, that revealed “no meaningful clinically, meaningful differences” in neurocognitive outcomes between 53 NFL retirees and controls.

CLEAATS is funded for two years under the DKR Fund, but Schaffert hopes the screening phase is the first step to a more in-depth look at neurological effects in sports.

The project is actively looking for more participants to engage in its study, and they can do so by visiting the CLEAATS website.

“Momentum is key for gathering funding and data,” Schaffert said. “We need participants in order to do that.”


Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation

🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway