Future Directions for Concussion Research

As sport-related concussions (SRC) have become a prominent subject in all levels of competition, research has taken huge leaps towards more accurate guidelines for evaluation, diagnosis, and management. A recent article by McCrae et al. assesses the future direction of SRC research, as well as some of the important questions that should be addressed as research continues.

Over the past two decades, studies have demonstrated a common course of treatment and recovery in athletes who experience SRC. For instance, it is widely recommended that 1-2 weeks of rest is necessary for cognitive and motor symptom recovery. Future studies assessing the efficacy of different treatment methods are crucial for predicting who is at risk of slow recovery or poor outcome after a concussion. Although there are many questions that need answers, here are a few that McCrae et al. suggests we address:

-        How do different types of injuries and acute injury characteristics predict recovery?

-        How do individual characteristics of athletes affect vulnerability to SRC, recovery, and outcome?

-        What are the short-term and long-range health effects of repetitive head impact exposure through routine participation in contact and collision sports?

Researchers are using new tools, such as head impact sensors, to gather information about the forces involved in SRC and how they influence injury.  The authors state that, “these technologies will also provide a wealth of information on short- and long-term health risks associated with repetitive, low-grade (sub-concussive) head impact exposure from routine participation in contact and collision sports.” The authors suggest using these tools to implement strategies for recovery, reduce complications, and, most importantly, to help protect athletes from further risks of re-injury. Future research in these areas is expected to benefit not only athletes, but the military and civilian populations as well.


To read the abstract of this article, click here.