More than $64 million invested in the NCAA-DOD Grand Alliance research to date

Approximately 40,000 student-athletes and cadets have participated in the study

Approximately 3,300 concussed study participants have been examined (60 percent male, 40 percent female)

The NCAA-U.S. Department of Defense Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium is the largest concussion and repetitive head impact study in history. The project, funded by the NCAA and DOD, launched in 2014 and now includes participants on 30 campuses across the country. The CARE Consortium, part of the broader NCAA-DOD Grand Alliance, is composed of two major components: a clinical study core, which aims to define how symptoms and physical signs manifest and evolve over time in different people (known in the scientific community as the “natural history” of concussion), and the advanced research core, which seeks to identify the neurobiology of concussion and repetitive head impact exposure (how the brain itself is affected). The CARE Consortium is designed to provide a framework for a future longitudinal study that will examine both the intermediate and long-term effects of concussion and repetitive head impact exposure. The initial phase of the study focused on the acute effects of concussion by evaluating concussed study participants with a sequence of tests in the immediate hours, days and weeks after the injury, and comparing the results with baseline tests administered at the start of the study.

The second phase of the study, initiated in the winter of 2018, includes comprehensive testing of the participants when they leave college and up to four years after their collegiate sports or service academy career has ended. This new phase will enable researchers to study the intermediate and cumulative effects of concussion and repetitive head impact exposure. Importantly, researchers hope — for the first time — to differentiate between the effects of concussion and repetitive head impact from sport participation with no history of either concussion or repetitive head impact exposure.

Each of those goals is rooted in the desire to enhance the health and safety of NCAA student-athletes and service members and will serve as a valuable resource for youth sports participants and society at large.

STUDY MILESTONES

  • May 2014

    $30 million NCAA-Department of Defense Grand Alliance announced.

  • August 2014

    Data collection begins.

  • September 2015

    DOD contributes $11 million in supplementary funding to support the aims of CARE by studying service academy cadets in addition to NCAA student-athletes.

  • March 2016

    CARE Consortium research data is presented at the World Congress on Brain Injury at The Hague, Netherlands.

  • March 2017

    First CARE research paper published.

  • August 2017

    NCAA contributes nearly $1 million for additional member schools to contribute data to the CARE study through CARE Affiliated Programs.

  • February 2018

    NCAA and DOD solidify plans for transition from CARE’s first phase (acute effects of concussion and repetitive head impact exposure) to its next (intermediate and cumulative effects of concussion and repetitive head impact exposure).

  • March 2018

    Tenth CARE research paper published.

  • September 2018

    NCAA and DOD contribute an additional $22.5 million in funding for CARE’s next phase.

STUDY PARTICIPANTS

Testing is underway at 30 campuses, including six schools where athletes undergo advanced imaging tests and blood draws.

The CARE Consortium is overseen by principal investigators at research institutions. Indiana University School of Medicine serves as the administrative and operations core and is the central coordination center for the CARE Consortium. Led by Dr. Thomas W. McAllister, chair of the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, the Indiana team provides regulatory and fiduciary oversight, as well as as biostatistics and data management, neuroimaging, bioinformatics, biomarkers/biospecimen management, and other support resources for the consortium.

The University of Michigan leads the longitudinal clinical study core, a prospective, multi-institution clinical research protocol studying the natural history of concussion among NCAA student-athletes and military service academy cadets. Steven Broglio, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology and director of the Michigan Concussion Center at the  University of Michigan, leads this effort.

Michael McCrea, Ph.D., professor of neurosurgery and co-director of the Center for Neurotrauma Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin, directs the advanced research core, which includes head impact sensor technologies, advanced neuroimaging and biological markers that include detailed genetic testing.

The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences coordinates engagement with the four military academies in the consortium. Retired Army Col. Paul F. Pasquina, M.D., professor and chair of the department of rehabilitation medicine and director of the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research, leads this aspect of the study. 

 

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