The U.S. Department of Defense and the Indianapolis-based NCAA are committing $22.5 million in additional funding to expand a massive, multi-year study co-led by Indiana University on the effects of concussions on athletes. Since its launch in 2014, the research has involved more than 39,000 student-athletes at 30 colleges and military service academies. While the initial, $30 million phase focused on shorter-term effects, the new phase will examine subjects up to four years after academic or military careers have ended. The study, says IU, is the largest ever of its kind.
IU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry Chair Thomas McAllister, who is leading the study’s administrative and operations center, says each stakeholder stands to gain something from a longer-term look at the impacts of head injuries. "I think overall, what we’re hoping is to really change the culture around concussion and give people as much information as they possibly can get to make an informed decision about what activities to participate in," McAllister said. "These activities that we’re talking about are incredibly valuable to kids growing up, to young adults, to all of us — to be active. The benefits of team sports are enormous. We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, but what we’re hoping to do is to actually really give people the information that they can use to make informed decisions."
The new study will investigate the intermediate and cumulative effects of concussion and exposure to repetitive head impacts, as well as help researchers find differences between the effects athletes who have suffered concussions or repetitive head impacts and those who have no history of either. More specifically, the testing will examine attributes like genetics, balance, memory and psychological health and whether head injuries from sports have any effects on levels of depression, anxiety and emotional control.
The funds will cover two years of research. In additional to McAllister, experts from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the Michigan Concussion Center at the University of Michigan, the Center for Neurotrauma Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Datalys Center and QuesGen Systems will participate.
McAllister says the finds will be published in scientific journals, online, through the NCAA and on a federally-sponsored repository. "We hope to make the findings as public as possible," he says. You can connect to more about the announcement by clicking here.
IU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry Chair Thomas McAllister, who is leading the study’s administrative and operations center, says each stakeholder stands to gain something from a longer-term look at the impacts of head injuries.