School of Medicine experts advance national concussion discussions

December 17, 2015

If you’re able to turn on the television these days and not hear about the serious problems associated with mild traumatic brain injury and concussion, then you’re not watching much TV. The issues related to brain function and a person’s overall health following trauma to the head are looming larger than ever. Traumatic brain injury is the focus of a motion picture starring Will Smith (titled “Concussion”) that’s scheduled to release on Dec. 25.

Much of the recent attention on this condition focuses on brain injury resulting from impact sports such as football, but concussions and other forms of traumatic brain injury also affect non-athletes—from military service members and accident victims to those suffering from domestic violence. The effects range from a passing headache, dizziness and confusion to long-term problems with memory and cognitive function–and sometimes death.

Concussion and traumatic brain injury is caused by sport injuries as well as other incidents that lead to violent impact to a person's head. | Photo By IU School of Medicine

Recent estimates from the CDC indicate that 1.7 million people suffer concussions each year—and that’s just the reported injuries. No one knows how many people suffer a concussion and do not seek treatment, but it’s clear that this is a growing public health problem.

IU School of Medicine is a leader in traumatic brain injury and concussion expertise. In partnership with the NCAA and the Department of Defense, IU School of Medicine researchers and investigators from partner institutions are exploring ways to improve the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury. The school, with the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indianapolis, is further distinguished as a federally designated TBI Model Systems Site.

This leadership role has put IU School of Medicine at the forefront of conversations related to concussions. The School’s Department of Psychiatry Chair Thomas McAllister, M.D., recently participated in an expert panel on sports-induced brain trauma on the Charlie Rose Show. View the one-hour documentary at charlierose.com.

The CARE Consortium

Taking a broad, multi-disciplinary, multi-sport view of traumatic brain injury, the CARE Consortium is a $30 million initiative among the NCAA, U.S. Department of Defense, and participating institutions to study concussions among student athletes and to use that knowledge to improve safety and health of athletes, military service members and the general public.

This innovative initiative is led by Dr. McAllister in collaboration with investigators from the University of Michigan and the Medical College of Wisconsin. Their work represents the largest and most comprehensive concussion study to date.

CARE Consortium research includes the exploration of post-concussive symptoms, performance and psychological health of student athletes and the analysis of data related to biomechanical, clinical, neuroimaging, neurobiological, and genetic markers of injury. Find out more about this initiative on the IU School of Medicine TBI Research page. Details are available on the CARE Consortium Fact Sheet.

TBI Model Systems Site

Federal officials designated the Indiana University School of Medicine and Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana a Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems site in 2012. As part of this designation, the partnership received a five-year, $2 million grant to add researchers and physicians to the effort of studying and treating traumatic brain injury and its impact on the lives of patients and their families.

Only one of 16 Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Sites in the country, the IU School of Medicine and Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana partnership focuses on the long-term treatment and rehabilitation of people with TBI, dramatically improving national capacity for providing high-quality treatment and research for those suffering with this condition. At the same time, the center’s research is filling critical knowledge gaps about TBI and concussion.

To learn more about traumatic brain Injury, visit the TBI Research page on the IU School of Medicine website and download the Concussion Q&A Infographic.