The Medical College of Wisconsin will play a lead role on an international $2.6 million National Football League-funded study on the role of active rehabilitation strategies in concussion management. MCW will be teaming up with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to conduct the three-year study.
The two colleges will examine the efficacy of two clinically supervised management strategies, including both the international concussion return-to-play protocol and early therapeutic interventions on concussions.
The research will cover a wide range of sports, including football, rugby, soccer, lacrosse, basketball and ice hockey.
Professional athletes from the Canadian Football League and New Zealand Rugby, as well as amateur athletes from American and Canadian colleges and universities and Wisconsin high schools, will be included in the study. There will be more than 200 concussed athletes participating, both male and female.
One of the co-principal investigators is Dr. Michael McCrea, the director of the Brain Injury Research Program and a professor of neurosurgery and neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa.
A major goal of the study is to find the best rehabilitative strategies for concussions, and determine the real-world application of these approaches and return-to-play strategies, McCrea said.
“What help do clinicians need to implement these types of management strategies, and do the athletes find them beneficial? Concussions affect each individual differently,” McCrea said. “Most of all, we want to maximize the translational impact of this study for athletes and clinicians.”
The project was identified as a priority at the NFL’s International Professional Sports Concussion Research Think Tank, where medical representatives of many of the world’s leading sports leagues convened to share best medical practices and protocols and collaborate on ways to advance science through research.
“Player health and safety is a high priority for the CFL,” said Kevin McDonald, the Canadian league’s vice-president, football operations and player safety. “This research on concussion management is innovative and important, and our participation is consistent with our commitment to advance player health and safety initiatives.”
The Medical College of Wisconsin and McCrea have played leading roles in past research on concussions under projects funded by the NCAA, the U.S. Department of Defense and a project funded jointly by GE and the NFL.