Newswise — Bethesda, Md. – The NCAA-U.S. Department of Defense Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium — the largest concussion and repetitive head impact study in history — has just received a combined $42.65 million in funding to begin the next phase of its landmark research project, co-led by the Uniformed Services University’s (USU) Dr. Paul Pasquina.
CARE is the product of the historic NCAA-DoD Grand alliance created in 2014, and is the most comprehensive, prospective study of its kind. The Consortium seeks to better understand concussion, as well as HIE (hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain), with broad aims to enhance the health and safety of NCAA student-athletes and military service members. CARE 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. Leveraging its extensive infrastructure and experienced research team, the consortium has published more than 80 scientific papers that have been critical to advancing the science of mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI)/concussion and Head Impact Exposure (HIE).
The initial phase of CARE focused on the six-month natural history and neurobiology of acute concussion and HIE. 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 HIE and concussion soon after graduation. This next phase of CARE, known as CARE/Service Academy Longitudinal mTBI Outcomes Study (SALTOS) Integrated Study, will investigate the nature and causes of long-term effects of HIE and concussion/mTBI in NCAA student-athletes and military service members.
Pasquina, professor and chair of USU’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, will lead the upcoming phase as principal investigator for the DoD through USU’s Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research, coordinating engagement with the four military academies, the military’s Explosive Ordnance and Disposal school at Eglin Air Force Base, as well as the Defense Health Agency’s National Intrepid Center of Excellence for TBI and Intrepid Spirit Centers at Ft. Hood, Ft. Bragg, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The newly-awarded funding includes a $25 million award from the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium via the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, from the Defense Health Program under the oversight of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. An additional $10 million in funding was awarded by the NCAA, and $7.65 million was granted by the Defense Health Agency via a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. This latest funding will allow the CSI research team additional resources to build upon existing CARE/SALTOS research by following former CARE research participants beyond graduation to evaluate the long-term or late effects (up to 10 years) on brain health after mTBI/concussion and/or HIE.
The CARE/SALTOS Integrated study is an integrated public/private effort, and is designed to identify the unique individual characteristics (such as phenotypes/genotypes) of individuals at a higher versus lower risk of negative outcomes associated with concussion and HIE. This data set 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.
“As a former member of West Point’s varsity football team, where I sustained several concussions, my interest in this study is both personal and professional,” Pasquina said. “There remain a number of unanswered questions surrounding concussion and head impact exposure that we hope to be able to help answer through this study. Our team remains committed to help protect, promote, and preserve brain health for service members, athletes, and the public.”
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About the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences: The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, founded by an act of Congress in 1972, is the nation’s federal health sciences university and the academic heart of the Military Health System. USU students are primarily active duty uniformed officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service who receive specialized education in tropical and infectious diseases, TBI and PTSD, disaster response and humanitarian assistance, global health, and acute trauma care. USU also has graduate programs in oral biology, biomedical sciences and public health committed to excellence in research. The University's research program covers a wide range of areas important to both the military and public health. For more information about USU and its programs, visit www.usuhs.edu.