Big cash boost for long-term concussion research

The study also seeks to validate advanced biomarkers (such as neuroimaging, and blood) that detect early indicators of such long-term health issues.
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The world’s most comprehensive concussion study is being expanded with a boost of nearly $US42.65 million in new funding, aimed at following athletes for a decade after injury.

The Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium has received $25m from the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium through the US Army Medical Research and Development Command, as well as an additional $10m from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and $7.65m from the Defense Health Agency.

The Indiana University School of Medicine serves as the administrative and operations core for the study, and is the central coordination center for the CARE Consortium.

Led by professor of psychiatry Thomas McAllister, the university team provides regulatory and fiduciary oversight, as well as biostatistics and data management, neuroimaging, bioinformatics, biomarkers/biospecimen management, and other support resources for the group.

“This new phase of funding will allow for us to even further expand on the study’s original goals, enabling us to follow athletes after they’ve moved on from their collegiate and service academy careers to see how concussion and repetitive head impacts affect them later in life,” McAllister said.

“This research will not only help to inform our understanding and treatment of traumatic brain injury, but also provide valuable information for youth sports participants and their families.”

The new funding will allow investigators to build on existing research by following former CARE research participants beyond graduation to evaluate the long-term or late effects of traumatic brain injuries for up to 10 years or more after initial exposure or injury.

Work by the CARE Consortium has broad goals to enhance the health and safety of student-athletes and military service members. It also is the first major concussion study to assess both women and men in 24 sports. Previously, most concussion literature came from men’s football and men’s ice hockey.

The latest cash boosts will bring funding for the alliance to more than $105 million.

Anticipated outcomes from the study include determining the prevalence and characteristics of long-term brain health problems associated with concussion and mild traumatic brain injury, as well as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, in which the brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen for a period of time.

The study also seeks to validate advanced biomarkers (such as neuroimaging, and blood) that detect early indicators of such long-term health issues.

“Identifying the neurobiological pathways that possibly contribute to long-term negative consequences of concussion and repetitive head impacts is critical for the development of early interventions and strategies in athletes and service academies who are at risk,” said Brian Hainline, chief medical officer for the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

He says he is confident the latest funding will provide the support to develop an array of interventions that reduce possible long-term effects of concussion or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.

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