Changing lives through research

Watch how work at Indiana University is impacting the lives of Hoosiers across the state.

A head above the rest in concussion research

Description of the following video:


[Words appear: Concussions affect over 2.8 million people each year, especially young athletes and military service people.]

[Words appear: Indiana University is partnering with the NCAA and Department of Defense on the CARE Consortium to improve treatment and recovery.]

[Words appear: Changing lives through research, IU Bloomington]

[Words appear: Jeremia Gutjahr, Center midfielder, IU men’s soccer]

Jeremiah speaks: Soccer is very fast paced and it's pretty physical, especially playing the big ten. This is kind of the style of play, it's pretty physical.

[Words appear: Paul Gutjahr, Father of Jeremiah Gutjahr]

Paul speaks: It was always kind of interesting to kind of think about potential injuries, potential problems with soccer. And there was a moment, I think particularly in his high school years, where concussions became a really big topic.

Jeremiah speaks: You do think about protecting your body a little bit I think just naturally. When you're in practice and stuff, there's times that coaches and even yourself, you're like, I don't want to take this hit of this ball to the head. And then in the game, you might have to sacrifice a little bit more and it's more expected.

Paul speaks: People think of soccer as kind of a non-contact sport, which is kind of interesting, because I think it's a contact sport. It's not a collision sport like football, but it's a contact.

Jessica Parratto speaks: Yeah, I think it's really important to have both women and men equally tested. In diving, it's kind of hard to notice when those things happen, like concussions, just because to some people who don't really know the sport, it could just look like a normal dive.

[Words appear: Jessica Parratto, High diver, IU women’s swimming and diving]

Jessica speaks: But to us, we know when it feels wrong the way we go in the water. Brian Hainline speaks: The awareness has increased dramatically.

[Words appear: Brian Hainline, Chief medical officer, NCAA]

Brian speaks: But the science hasn't kept up with the awareness. So we're really just at the very beginning stages in many ways, of understanding what concussion means.

[Words appear: Kyle Winters, Athletic trainer]

Kyle speaks: The CARE Consortium right now is the largest concussion study taking place currently at the collegiate level.

[Words appear: Nicholas Port, Associate professor, School of Optometry]

Nicholas speaks: Roughly speaking 90% of people with a concussion will spontaneously heal in something like 12 to 14 days. The CARE Consortium has provided the best numbers to date for how long you would expect someone to need to recover before they can start the return to play protocol.

Brian speaks: It's a collaboration that I have rarely seen. The NCAA and DOD are jointly funding a study. So you have 30 NCAA member schools, including four service academies.

Kyle speaks: What we're doing is collecting all of this baseline data in assessments as well as post-injury testing. We upload into a online database, and what we're attempting to do is to try and help improve overall concussion care, and recovery for our student-athletes and cadets.

Nicholas speaks: There’s this 10% that remain that take much longer to recover, and those are clinically who we worry about the most.

Kyle speaks: We're attempting to assess each student athlete multi-dimensionally. So we're looking at cognitive functions. So as soon as a student athlete arrives to campus, before contact practice, we test all student athletes. We'll compare that to any post injury testing that we may perform if a student athlete is suspected of having a concussion, which helps us to formulate our diagnosis.

Brian speaks: We've already now studied over 30,000 athletes and military cadet service men and women combined.

Nicholas speaks: The eye movement study is very singularly focused on seeing if we can use the involuntary aspects of eye movements to diagnose concussions on the sidelines. So it was a very focused study to just look at one thing. Could we develop a better sideline test that would be something that would be cheap and affordable for athletic trainers and team physicians around the world to add to their toolkit.

Brian speaks: I think one thing is going to lead to another. You'll have one data paper that's going to come out and that's going to lead to a sub-analysis. This is going to be the beginning of probably over the next 6 to 12 months there is going to be sort of the trickle of the data, and then over the next two years I think there is going to be an enormous release of data.

Nicholas speaks: There are risks involved with concussions. And this is especially a risk if you have multiple concussions and multiple concussions too close together. So we learned that we could do a better job and we are doing a better job but that we shouldn't stop. We should keep learning more about concussions through concussion research, through projects like the NCAA DoD Care.

Paul speaks: Soccer's probably a small window in Jeremiah's life. And he has a lot of life after.

Jeremiah speaks: Looking down the road in 20 years I probably won't be playing soccer. I kind of hope I'm not running that hard in 20 years. But I'll be doing something else that I'm hopefully just as passionate about.

Paul speaks: What I want him to do is be in a position to pursue what he wants to pursue after soccer with the same kind of passion that he's put into soccer. I don't want brain injuries to get in the way of that kind of pursuit.


[Video: The Indiana University trident appears]

[Words appear: Indiana University,]

[End of transcript]

IU athletes, researchers, doctors and trainers are working together to understand and protect sports players, military members and others against the risk of concussion as part of the CARE Consortium, the world's largest investigation into the condition. A $30 million effort funded by the NCAA and U.S. Department of Defense, the project has already enrolled over 30,000 student-athletes and military cadets from 30 universities and military academies.