NCAA and Dept. of Defense launch $30 million concussion initative; MCW will lead advanced research core

May 31, 2014

The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) has been selected to lead the research core in the most comprehensive study of concussion and head impact exposure in sports ever conducted. The $30 million initiative, which was announced by President Obama today at the White House Healthy Kids & Sports Concussion Summit, is a joint initiative between the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Department of Defense (DoD). This effort will be executed through the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium, and MCW will serve as one of three Coordinating Centers for the Consortium.

Michael McCrea, Ph.D., professor of neurology and neurosurgery and the director of brain injury research at MCW will direct the Advanced Research Core (ARC), one of three main pillars of the project. The Advanced Research Core will conduct cutting-edge studies that incorporate head impact sensor technologies, advanced neuroimaging, biological markers and detailed clinical studies in studying the acute effects and early patterns of recovery from sport-related concussion. Dr. McCrea’s study of concussion spans two decades and has involved the enrollment of more than 10,000 student athletes in southeastern Wisconsin.

“Ultimately, this work is designed to more fully inform a comprehensive understanding of sport-related concussion and traumatic brain injury,” said Dr. McCrea. “This initiative will involve the most sites, the largest number of athletes playing the greatest number of sports, and the most cutting-edge technology we have available to offer critical insights to the acute effects and natural history of recovery after concussion, ultimately enabling science to drive evidence-based approaches to management of concussion.”

Other faculty members from MCW who will be working on this study include Drs. Matthew Budde, Shi-Jiang Li, Lindsay Nelson and Brian Stemper. The project will be a collaborative effort between the MCW Department of Neurosurgery's Brain Injury Research Program, the Center for Imaging Research, and the Neuroscience Research Center.

Other institutions involved in the landmark study are Indiana University School of Medicine, which will serve as the Administrative and Operations Core; and the University of Michigan, which will lead the Longitudinal Clinical Study Core.

“In recent years, NCAA schools have placed a priority on improved concussion management, but we still have many unanswered questions in this area,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert. “We believe in the incredible potential of this research. Student-athletes will be first to benefit from this effort, but it also will help to more accurately diagnose, treat and prevent concussions among service men and women, youth sports participants and the broader public.”

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