Penn State joins Brain Concussion Neuroimaging Consortium

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – A number of units at Penn State have joined in a new collaboration, the Brain Concussion Neuroimaging Consortium, which aims to optimize long-term outcomes in athletes and soldiers with concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Penn State partners in the effort include the Penn State Center for Sport Concussion Research and Services (PSCSC); Athletic Training Services; and Human Imaging, Social Life & Engineering Sciences Imaging Center.

The consortium will focus on intervention to reduce concussion and TBI occurrence; manage treatment and rehabilitation; and enhance long-term outcomes for individuals with concussion or TBI.

The effort will include colleges and universities with strong athletic programs willing to perform longitudinal studies of all their varsity and club sports athletes, research-dedicated MRI facilities and published imagers in concussion/addiction/depression/cognitive neuroscience.

Team collaborators from Penn State include Semyon Slobounov, director of PSCSC; Tim Bream, director of athletic training services and head football athletic trainer at Penn State; and Michele Diaz, director of the Human Imaging, Social Life & Engineering Sciences Imaging Center at Penn State. Additionally, investigators from the University of Central Florida, Michigan State University, Northshore Health System (Chicago), Northwestern University, Purdue, Nebraska and Ohio State University are equal partners. The newly formed consortium has been endorsed by the Committee for Institutional Cooperation.

“We at Penn State are anxious and well positioned to make a significant contribution to this newly established consortium,” said Neil A. Sharkey, interim vice president for research at Penn State. “There is still so much to learn in order to develop responsible science-based protocols that accurately determine safe return-to-play, return-to-school and other social activities for student-athletes suffering from concussion. A consolidated effort of researchers from multiple institutions is an expeditious approach to this extremely important public health issue.”

The group aims to establish collaborations and integrate advanced technological and intellectual resources of multiple institutions with specific focus on exploration of pathophysiological mechanisms of concussive injuries. Three neuroimaging-evidence based protocols for athletes (including adolescent, high school and collegiate) and soldiers will be developed: return-to-play/return-to-duty; return-to-academics (return to training and mission organization); and transition into the workforce post college athletics (transition to civilian life post deployment).

The consortium maintains that in order to adequately address the challenges associated with concussion in current and retired athletes and TBI in military veterans, it needs to develop biomarkers of injury and prognosis, new methods for treatment and monitoring treatment efficacy, and techniques for understanding the interaction of brain injury with brain development and long-term outcomes for athletes and soldiers. Without properly assessing (via technologically advanced tools), treating and managing these injuries, athletes and soldiers will have poor future prognosis, and their careers will be shortened, leaving a potentially significant cost burden to society at large.

To date, no longitudinal studies with neuroimaging of brain structure, connectivity and function have been performed before potential injury, immediately after injury and sequentially after injury as interventions proceed to get the player/soldier back to duty, training/academic, post-athletics/post-deployment.

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Last Updated October 01, 2014