By Justin Whitaker
The fifth annual NCAA-Department of Defense Grand Alliance Concussion Conference, presented virtually April 21, featured concussion experts and researchers sharing preliminary and recently published data.
The conference, titled “A New Era of Scientific Collaboration,” was hosted by the NCAA Sport Science Institute and U.S. Department of Defense, in partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Presenters shared updates from the NCAA-DOD Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium, the largest concussion and repetitive head impact study in history, which received a $46.65 million award in October to launch its next phase.
“We’re proud of the research gained through the NCAA-DOD Grand Alliance, including the CARE Consortium, the Mind Matters Challenge, and now the long-term CARE-SALTOS Integrated Study,” NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline said. “Our goal is to continue to learn more about concussion and head impact exposure, which translates into valuable knowledge for the physicians and athletic trainers who are charged with providing care to student-athletes and service academy cadets.”
NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline briefly discussed concussions and the CARE Consortium on the latest Social Series. He also addressed the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health resources in a health and safety update for college sports.
North Carolina Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, a neuroscientist and concussion researcher, opened the conference with a reflection on the beginnings of the research and the importance of collaboration between NCAA member schools and the Department of Defense.
“This has all occurred through valuable partnerships and multicentered studies involving hundreds of athletic trainers, coaches, physicians, policymakers and student-athletes,” Guskiewicz said. “We do this all for the protection of their health and well-being and to improve safety for athletes at all levels of play.”
In 1996, Guskiewicz worked with Mike McCrea, professor and vice chair of research in the department of neurosurgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, on a concussion study that was funded by the NCAA. Guskiewicz shared that he never could have imagined where the scope of research would be today. There are now thousands of study participants and data points to help inform the growing field of sport neuroscience and traumatic brain injury prevention and treatment.
Atlantic Coast Commissioner Jim Phillips echoed the importance of this initiative and the benefits for nearly 500,000 student-athletes across the country and almost 10,000 within the conference.
“It is these extraordinary student-athletes that drive us to continue working together to further ensure their health and safety remains our top priority,” Phillips said.
The NCAA-DOD Grand Alliance Concussion Conference was a free-to-attend forum to share emerging information with athletic trainers, team physicians, sports medicine clinicians and athletics health care administrators from NCAA member schools. Stakeholders from military medical facilities and others who oversee and manage sport-related concussion and repetitive head impacts also participated.