Majority of UNM Athletes Have Brain Damage

The University of New Mexico’s Brain Safe Project has revealed some startling numbers about the incidence of concussion and the subsequent damage among the school’s student athletes.

Begun last fall with Mind Research Network, the project ( involves testing more than 200 football, volleyball, soccer, baseball, and basketball players at the beginning every season. The testing involves an MRI scan of brain structure, chemistry, connectivity, and function. Every year, or after any acute injury, the athlete will be scanned again and the results will be compared to their initial baseline MRI. Sophisticated MRI analyses will be performed using algorithms developed by MRN and UNM scientists to identify any brain related injuries.

Dr. Kent Kiehl, founder and director of the program, noted that approximately 56 percent of those tested showed “notable” damage in their initial, baseline, screenings.

“Our top concern is the safety of our athletes,” UNM Athletic Director Paul Krebs said at the outset of the program. “This is one more tool for our team doctors to use to make sure that when we return a student-athlete to play, we are making that decision based on the very best medical information available.”

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