The largest concussion and repetitive head impact study in history has received a $42.65 million award to launch the next phase of the landmark research project that is co-led by the University of Michigan.
The NCAA-U.S. Department of Defense Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium was awarded $25 million by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, with an additional $10 million coming from the NCAA and $7.65 million from the Defense Health Agency.
CARE is the product of the historic NCAA-DOD in 2014, and the next phase, known as CARE/Service Academy Longitudinal mTBI Outcomes Study Integrated (CSI) Study, will investigate the long-term effects of head impact exposure and concussion/mild traumatic brain injury in NCAA student-athletes and military service members.
U-M leads the longitudinal clinical study core, a prospective, multi-institution clinical research protocol. Steven Broglio, professor of kinesiology and director of the U-M Concussion Center, is a co-principal investigator of the CSI award. U-M is joined by Indiana University School of Medicine, the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences as core leaders along with more than 30 other institutions.
“The University of Michigan has played a crucial role in the initial phases of the CARE Consortium by addressing previously unanswered questions on the natural history of concussion across a diverse set of athletes and military service members,” Broglio said. “The current funding will allow us to begin rigorous inquiry of the long-term effects of concussion in those same athletes and service members.”
The initial phase of CARE focused on the six-month natural history and neurobiology of acute concussion and head impact exposure. The second phase, CARE 2.0, prospectively investigated the intermediate effects — such as changes in brain health outcomes over a college career — and early persistent health effects associated with head impact exposure and concussion soon after graduation. The latest awards bring the total Grand Alliance funding now to more than $105 million.
The CSI investigative team will build upon existing CARE/SALTOS research by following former CARE research participants beyond graduation to evaluate the long-term or late effects of head impact exposure and/or concussion/mTBI for up to 10 years or more after initial exposure or injury.
“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 NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline. “We are confident this award from MTEC, coupled with additional funding from the NCAA and DOD, will provide us the support to develop an array of interventions that mitigate possible long-term effects of concussion or HIE.”
The most comprehensive, prospective study of its kind to better understand concussion, head impact exposure and effects on brain health, the CARE Consortium is funded by the NCAA and U.S. Department of Defense with broad aims to enhance the health and safety of NCAA student-athletes and military service members. It also serves as a valuable resource for youth sports participants and society at large. It is also the first major concussion study to assess both women and men in 24 sports; prior to CARE, most concussion literature came from men’s football and men’s ice hockey.
The CARE Consortium is overseen by principal investigators at research institutions across the country. Leveraging its extensive infrastructure and experienced research team, CARE has published more than 80 scientific papers that are critical to advancing the science of mTBI/concussion and head impact exposure.
With the MTEC/DOD award, combined with additional funding from the NCAA, CSI is now well-positioned to investigate the brain health of NCAA athletes and military service members who have had concussion or head impact exposure, compared to those who have had neither, Broglio said. Additionally, the effects of other medical conditions on brain health will be assessed in military service members.
An integrated public/private effort, CSI is designed to identify the unique individual characteristics (such as phenotypes/genotypes) of individuals at a higher vs. lower risk of negative outcomes associated with concussion and head impact exposure. This dataset will be made available to the broader scientific community to promote further development of specific strategies for injury prevention, early recognition and mitigating treatments of those at greatest risk of brain health effects.