NCAA, DoD Expand Concussion Study with New Funds

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The NCAA and the U.S. Department of Defense are aggressively expanding a concussion study with an additional $22.5 million in funding. 

The NCAA-DOD Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium, known as the CARE Consortium, was established as part of the broader NCAA-DOD Grand Alliance in 2014 with the goals of understanding how concussions impact the brain and identifying ways to improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention. 

The NCAA has pledged an additional $12.5 million in funding over two years for the second stage of the research, while the DoD has approved a two-year grant of nearly $10 million.

The initial phase of the study — made possible by a joint NCAA-Department of Defense grant of $30 million — focused on the acute effects of concussions by evaluating concussed participants with a sequence of clinical and advanced research tests in the immediate hours, days and weeks after the injury, and comparing the results with baseline tests administered at the start of the study.

The new phase will include comprehensive testing of the participants when they leave college and up to four years after their collegiate sports or service academy career has ended. Researchers say the expanded approach will allow them to study the intermediate and cumulative effects of concussion and repetitive head impact exposure. Importantly, researchers hope to differentiate among the effects of concussion, repetitive head impact, and sport participation with no history of either concussion or repetitive head impact exposure. 

The research is being led by the Indiana University School of Medicine, the University of Michigan and the Medical College of Wisconsin, in collaboration with the Uniformed Services University. The study has collected data on more than 40,000 student-athletes and cadets at 30 colleges and military service academies — including more than 3,300 who have experienced concussions. This represents the largest sample of concussions ever researched in a single study.

“This new phase of funding represents a critical extension to the original study goals, allowing us to take an unprecedented look at cumulative and persistent effects of concussion and repetitive head impact exposure,” said Brian Hainline, M.D., NCAA chief medical officer. “What we learn from this research will advance the science of traumatic brain injury and improve our understanding of how to best support the health and well-being of student-athletes, not only during their collegiate athletics experience, but beyond.”  

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