Launching National Study of Female Athletes and Concussions

Here is a press release from Kathrine Price Snedaker and Pinkconcussions.com

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Press Release

For Release: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 
Launch of National Study of Female Athletes and Concussions
Study begins October 1, to explore Female Athletes’ Experiences with Concussions
Contact:
Katherine Snedaker, MSW, PinkConcussions.com / 203-984-0860 PinkConcussions@gmail.com
Dr. Jimmy Sanderson, Clemson University / 864-656-3996 jsande6@clemson.edu

Norwalk, CT – Men’s football concussions are in the news daily from former and current players, but there’s rarely news about female athletes’ experiences with concussions. Female athletes experience a significant number of concussions, yet they seem too often overlooked when concussions are discussed in mainstream media. Mentioned in the report American Medical Society for Sports Medicine Position Statement: Concussion in Sport 2012data suggest that in sports with similar rules female athletes sustain more concussions than their male counterparts. In addition, female athletes experience or report a higher number and severity of symptoms as well as a longer duration of recovery than male athletes in several studies.

This new study will be focused on female athletes from all sports, and their past and present experiences with concussions. Current and former athletes are eligible for this study conducted by researchers from Clemson University with the advocacy group, Pink Concussions. For this study, female athletes, age 18 and over, who are willing to participate can sign up now at PinkConcussions.com. On October 1, participants will be emailed a link to a twenty-minute online survey about their experiences with sports and non-sport concussions and reporting concussions.

This research study will also explore female athletes’ experiences with reporting concussions, another salient avenue in the concussions dialogue, as many athletes do not report concussions willingly or are mis-diagnosed.

The research also will investigate female athletes’ willingness to have genetic testing that may show links to the repair and recovery of brain cells after concussion. After finishing the survey, participants in the study can opt for an additional study and consider submitting DNA collected by a cheek swab to be tested for variants at the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene.  Testing for certain genes has previously documented an association between specific genetic factors and outcomes from injuries such as concussion.

Apolipoprotein E is a protein that is important in the repair and recovery of brain cells that have been damaged due to concussion. The clinical studies point to a relationship between certain genetic signatures and poorer overall concussion response. While additional evidence is needed to better understand the relationship between APOE status and concussion outcomes, the American Academy of Neurology introduced APOE testing into concussion management guidelines this year.  EDIT FROM AAN: The American Academy of Neurology did not “introduce APOE testing into concussion management guidelines this year.”  The AAN stated that apoE4 was a risk factor for cognitive impairment in professionals; but no recommendation was made to conduct apoE testing, and there was no evidence reviewed regarding apoE4 in amateurs. 

The results of this research will help further concussion research by focusing on the communicative element present in this issue, and the results of the study will be helpful for athletes, parents, administrators, physicians, and advocates. This research will be beneficial in shedding light on female athletes’ experiences with concussions and reporting concussions. Often female athletes are omitted from the public discourse surrounding concussions and the results of this research will assist concussion advocates in raising more awareness about concussion issues in sports.

Co-Researchers in this study are Dr. Jimmy Sanderson and Dr. Melinda Weathers in the Department of Communication Studies at Clemson University, along with Ms. Katherine Snedaker, MSW, of PinkConcussions.com.

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For more information about this study, help in recruiting athletes or to participate in the study, please fill the contact form at PinkConcussions.com or contact:

Dr. Jimmy Sanderson
Clemson University
864-656-3996
Katherine Snedaker
203-984-0860
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Mayo Clinic Looking into Autonomic Response to Concussion

Neurologists at Mayo Clinic in Arizona have taken a promising step toward identifying a test that helps support the diagnosis of concussion. Their research has shown that autonomic reflex testing, which measures involuntary changes in heart rate and blood pressure, consistently appear to demonstrate significant changes in those with concussion.

Appearing on their website, the information researchers are delving into is a new angle on  concussions.  It is widely known that traumatic brain injured (TBI) patients have autonomic system (ANS) deficits/abnormalities.  However the group from Arizona thought an investigation into concussed patients was worth the effort.  Low and behold their findings are a promising first step in possible assessment and management of the concussion.

One interesting note, was this notion on dizziness;

“Contrary to popular belief, the symptoms of ‘dizziness’ that patients feel just after a concussion may, in some cases, be symptoms of autonomic system impairment rather than a vestibular or inner ear disturbance,” says Bert Vargas, M.D., a Mayo neurologist.

No one is telling you to take blood pressures with assessment (ergo baselines), yet, but with this information could come not only objective testing but biomarkers associated with ANS changes;

“This study shows a possible electrophysiological biomarker that indicates that a concussion has occurred — we are hopeful that with more research this will be confirmed and that this may also be a biomarker for recovery,” he says.