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Students to Receive Free Concussion Testing in NFL Player's Honor

Student-athletes in Muncie, Ind., will begin receiving free concussion tests next month, thanks to a fund set up in honor of deceased Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson.

In February of last year, Duerson was found dead in his home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Before he died, Duerson sent text messages to his family requesting that his brain be donated to the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, according to the New York Times, to see if he'd developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Last May, Boston University researchers announced that they had found CTE in Duerson's brain, confirming his fears. Researchers at the center have discovered the disease in at least 20 brains of deceased professional athletes, but they've also seen traces of CTE in the brain of an 18-year-old multisport athlete, the earliest evidence of CTE ever recorded.

To ensure that more student-athletes don't develop the neurodegenerative condition, Duerson's older brother Michael established the Dave Duerson Muncie Community Schools Athletic Safety Fund in his brother's honor, which aims to raise money for concussion tests for local youth athletes. (Duerson was a Muncie native.)

The fund officially launched in March at an event raising more than $1,500, according to The Star Press.

On April 10, the Muncie Community school board approved the plan to implement ImPACT concussion testing in all sports at both of the district's high schools, starting in May. Overall, an estimated 700 student-athletes will be included, according to the fund's website. Next school year, the program will be expanded to the local middle schools, adding another roughly 650 student-athletes to the program.

All student-athletes will go through a free ImPACT baseline test before the start of their respective seasons, and the fund will help cover costs of post-injury tests and related expenses for student-athletes who can't afford them. Two doctors from Indianapolis volunteered to provide the ImPACT tests to students, free of charge.

Last year, Dick's Sporting Goods and ImPACT teamed up to offer 1 million free baseline tests to youth athletes across the country.

As evidenced by yesterday's #SportsSafety Twitter chat, experts still have questions about the reliability of neurocognitive tests such as ImPACT. Many in the Twitter chat warned that such tests should only play one part in a return-to-play decision, instead of being the only basis for such a decision.

Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.

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