UNC-Chapel Hill researchers will help lead an NFL-funded study on the effectiveness of rehabilitation techniques following concussion injuries.
The three-year, $2.6 million study will enroll more than 200 professional and student athletes who’ve suffered concussions while playing football, rugby, soccer, lacrosse, basketball and ice hockey.
Professional athletes from the Canadian Football League and New Zealand Rugby will take part, as well as amateur athletes from two Canadian universities and four North Carolina institutions – Catawba College, Elon University, Lynchburg College and N.C. Central University. Players at six Wisconsin high schools will also be part of the research.
The project will be led by scientists at UNC and the Medical College of Wisconsin. They will study the effectiveness of two strategies for dealing with concussions: the international return-to-play protocol and early therapeutic treatment that could speed up recovery. Under the return-to-play guidelines, players work up to physical activity gradually in a series of steps.
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“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 who is an assistant professor of exercise and sport science in the College of Arts & Sciences and a faculty member of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center and the Injury Prevention Research Center.
Register-Mihalik said the study’s mix of athletes and sports could provide answers about the best way to care for concussions. “We’re able to look at the recovery patterns across these age groups,” she said.