A statewide concussion surveillance project will be launched this winter in Dallas, with a goal of capturing comprehensive data about head trauma sustained by young athletes in an effort to better inform policy makers and improve medical care.
The program, led by Munro Cullum, PhD, with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute, aims to give a more precise idea of how many known or suspected concussions are occurring in young athletes. “We will never know if policy changes, programs are having an impact until we know how many concussions are occurring,” Cullum said.
The program aims to collect and analyze data such as age, sport, and gender in kids grades 7-12 with reported concussions who participate in organized public school sports. Researchers will partner with the University Interscholastic League, which oversees school sports in Texas, in order to collect the data, beginning with spring sports, such as basketball, wresting, soccer and swimming/diving.
Athletic trainers, school nurses and other personnel will be assigned to collect the data using an app or online site designed by Medical Innovation Labs based in Austin. These data collectors will also undergo concussion awareness and data training. Analyses will be conducted at least monthly to identify trends or concerns.
Data collecting for schools will be voluntary at first, but Cullum says he hopes it will become mandatory beginning with the 2017-2018 school year.
Other states, such as Hawaii, Arizona and Maine, have launched similar initiatives, but it is hoped the Texas project will serve as a national model. It was funded by UT Southwestern’s Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair, which was established with $7.5 million in annual funding by the Texas Legislature to study brain injuries.
Source: MedPage Today