By Eric Schurr
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Fifth Quarter Fresh, a new, high-protein chocolate milk, helped high school football players improve their cognitive and motor function over the course of a season, even after experiencing concussions, a new preliminary University of Maryland study shows.
The study, funded through the Maryland Industrial Partnerships program and conducted by Jae Kun Shim, a professor of kinesiology in the School of Public Health, followed 474 football players from seven high schools in Western Maryland throughout the fall 2014 season.
“High school football players, regardless of concussions, who drank Fifth Quarter Fresh chocolate milk during the season, showed positive results overall,” said Shim. “Athletes who drank the milk, compared to those who did not, scored higher after the season than before it started, specifically in the areas of verbal and visual memory.”
Football players were tested before the season, after concussions and post-season using Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing, also called ImPACT™, a widely used computer-based evaluation for concussions. Overall, 36 variables for attention span, working memory, sustained and selective attention time, response variability, non-verbal problem solving and reaction time were measured in the study.
Experimental groups drank Fifth Quarter Fresh after each practice and game, sometimes six days a week, while control groups did not consume the chocolate milk. Analysis was performed on two separate groups: athletes who experienced concussions during the season and those who did not. Both non-concussed and concussed groups showed positive effects from the chocolate milk.
Non-concussed athletes who drank Maryland-produced Fifth Quarter Fresh showed better cognitive and motor scores over nine test measures after the season as compared to the control group.
Concussed athletes drinking the milk improved cognitive and motor scores in four measures after the season as compared to those who did not.
The remaining test scores did not show a statistically significant difference between the experimental and control groups over the season, according to Shim.
He suggested that the naturally occurring high levels of specific nutrients in Fifth Quarter Fresh likely contributed to the results. Shim also cited carbohydrates, calcium and electrolytes, all of which he says are likely to be critical for the recovery process after brain injuries.
Officials in Washington County, Md., home to all seven high schools participating in the study, are now considering the broad adoption of Fifth Quarter Fresh in sports programs throughout its school system.