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Wednesday, Oct. 4
The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research

University researchers receive grant to study concussions

Better understanding blood flow might become key to diagnosing concussions in the future.

The IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis has received a $300,000 grant to study how concussions affect blood flow in the brain.

The grant was awarded as a part of General Electric and the National Football League’s Head Health Challenge, which aims to ultimately improve diagnosis and treatment of concussions.

Brenna McDonald, Psy.D., and Yang Wang, MD, both associate professors of
radiology and imaging sciences, will lead the research.

A concussion occurs as a result of a blow to the head that causes temporary loss or alteration of consciousness — most commonly meaning some lapses in memory or dazed feelings.

“What we’re partly interested in is being able to understand what the mechanism of recovery is,” McDonald said.

She said an understanding of this could help treat people who have recurring head injuries or those who have difficulty recovering on their own.

McDonald said most people get better quickly after suffering a single concussion.
The study will be conducted using student athletes from local high schools who will volunteer to partake in the study.

The athletes will be brought in within a month of their injury, at which time McDonald and her team will conduct various MRI scans to look at blood flow in the brain.

The volunteers will then be brought in after six weeks to determine if there is a noticeable difference between a brain that has suffered a concussion in the past and a brain that has not.

“There is evidence to suggest that after head injury, generally blood flow may be affected and that could explain some of the cognitive difficulties,” said McDonald.

In the past, diagnosis and treatment of concussions has been difficult. McDonald said that this is largely because of the fact that there is usually no physical evidence of damage with minor brain injury that can be picked up by a CT scan or MRI.

“Mostly what you’re relying on are symptoms, and symptoms are subjective,” McDonald said.

Their application for the grant, submitted last summer,was one of 16 selected from 400.

“We’re really excited to have this opportunity, so we’d encourage anyone interested in participating to reach out to us,” McDonald said.

If the research is successful, McDonald and her team could potentially find something thaat physicians could monitor over time to see the effectiveness of treatments.

“Obviously you want people to be doing their best,” McDonald said, “and you want them to be at their healthiest.”

Follow reporter Anna Hyzy on Twitter @annakhyzy.

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