Posted October 29, 2014
Thomas W. McAllister, M.D., Indiana University School of Medicine
Michael McCrea, Ph.D., Medical College of Wisconsin
Steven Broglio, Ph.D., University of Michigan
Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), also known as concussion, is a major short-term and long-term health concern facing the U.S. military, the sports medicine community, and society at large. The Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are leaders in the field and have supported the development of the clinical practice guidelines used around the world. Despite these advances, significant gaps in knowledge remain. The natural history of concussion remains poorly defined, and there is no objective clinical biomarker of physiological recovery. To address these gaps, the DoD and NCAA have recently partnered to fund the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium. The DoD and NCAA have recognized the mutual benefit in this initiative. Both NCAA student athletes and military personnel are young athletic populations that push themselves physically and mentally and are vulnerable to mTBI. Thus, the findings from CARE Consortium research can easily be translated to both the military and the general public.
The CARE Consortium is a 3-year, $14.6 million initiative, led by the Indiana University School of Medicine, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and the University of Michigan. The Consortium is undertaking what may be considered as the most comprehensive investigation of sports-related concussion ever conducted. The researchers expect to enroll approximately 25,000 male and female student athletes from 30 NCAA member institutions and Military Service Academies. Operationally, the CARE Consortium is composed of three pillars: the Advanced Research Core, the Longitudinal Clinical Study Core, and the Administrative and Operations Core. The Advanced Research Core at the Medical College of Wisconsin, led by co-Principal Investigator (co-PI) Michael McCrea, Ph.D., will leverage existing collaborative research networks (e.g., the National Institutes of Health's TRACK-TBI initiative and the DoD's Project Head-to-Head) and use head impact sensor technologies, advanced neuroimaging, biological markers, and detailed clinical studies to inform the neurobiopsychosocial understanding of sports-related concussion. The Longitudinal Clinical Study Core at the University of Michigan, led by co-PI Steven Broglio, Ph.D., will develop and implement a multi-year, multi-institution prospective, longitudinal phased-in research protocol whose aim will be to study the natural history of concussion. Notably, the Longitudinal Clinical Study Core will serve as the foundation upon which additional advanced correlative research projects will be built. Finally, the Administrative and Operations Core at the Indiana University School of Medicine, led by co-PI Thomas W. McAllister, M.D., will serve as the centralized coordination center for the other two Cores and Consortium members. This Core will provide administrative and fiscal oversight as well as support for clinical trials, data collection and management, biospecimen banking, bioinformatics, and biostatistics.
The CARE Consortium will allow scientists to better understand the true natural history of concussion in athletes and will provide much-needed insight on the risks, management, and treatment of concussion. The CARE Consortium's goals align directly with DoD priorities to develop evidence-based approaches to improving the medical care, health, and welfare of Service Members affected by TBI. This project also has the potential to positively impact the medical care of concussed athletes at all levels, including high school and youth participants.