The NFL will fund a $2.6 million international study on the role of active rehabilitation strategies in concussion management.
Led by scientists at UNC-Chapel Hill and the Medical College of Wisconsin, the research will involve international collaborations and diverse participants — high school, college and professional athletes — across a variety of sports.
The project was identified as a priority at the NFL’s International Professional Sports Concussion Research Think Tank.
The study, one of the first of its kind, will examine the efficacy of two clinically supervised management strategies, including both the international concussion return-to-play protocol and early therapeutic interventions for concussions.
Professional athletes from the Canadian Football League and New Zealand Rugby, as well as amateur athletes from American and Canadian colleges and universities and Wisconsin high schools, will be included in the study. The research will cover a variety of sports, including football, rugby, soccer, lacrosse, basketball and ice hockey. The three-year study will enroll more than 200 concussed athletes, both male and female.
“Currently there’s little information available about the most effective strategies to manage and treat concussion,” said Johna Register-Mihalik, the co-principal investigator at UNC, assistant professor of exercise and sport science and faculty member of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center. “We want to see how early, clinically guided activity could benefit recovery from concussion.”
Other members of the UNC investigative team include co-principal investigator Kevin Guskiewicz (dean of the College, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Exercise and Sport Science and co-director of the Gfeller Center), Stephen Marshall (Injury Prevention Research Center and epidemiology), Jason Mihalik (exercise and sport science and a director of Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related TBI Research Center), Shabbar Ranapurwala (Injury Prevention Research Center and epidemiology), Karen McCulloch (division of physical therapy) and Paula Gildner (project manager, Injury Prevention Research Center). UNC undergraduate and graduate students are also involved in the research.
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