Big Ten, Ivy League Announce Collaboration to Study Head Injuries

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Big Ten, Ivy League Announce Collaboration to Study Head Injuries

The Big Ten Conference and the Ivy League, in conjunction with the Big Ten Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), have announced plans to engage in a co-sponsored, cross-institutional research collaboration to study the effects of head injuries in sports.

The objective of the collaboration is to coordinate ongoing efforts by each conference “to research and address various aspects of head injuries in athletics, including concussions.”

Barbara McFadden Allen, CIC Executive Director said “CIC member universities have collaborated for more than 50 years, but this is the deepest and most significant research and academic collaboration we’ve launched. It draws perfectly on the intersection of great medicine, great athletics and great academics that characterizes what is best in our universities. By working together across traditional boundaries, we can build the infrastructure to address the problem, assemble a much larger potential pool of athletes and draw upon the formidable research and medical fields and talents represented across the universities.”

Dr. Jim Yong Kim, co-chair of the Ivy League Multi-Sport Concussion Committee and Dartmouth College President, added that “we expect the results of our efforts to advance our collective understanding of the effects of concussions and head injuries, and to extend beyond our two conferences. Combining our common interest and work to-date in researching and addressing concussion in sports will enhance the welfare and well-being of student-athletes across the various fields of competition.”

In May 2010, the Big Ten became the first collegiate conference to establish a conference-wide concussion management plan, according to the conference. In 2011, the Ivy League developed and enacted a series of concussion-curbing measures in the sport of football after a year-long review. Since September 2011, the two conferences have engaged in discussions “to examine the feasibility and benefits of collaboration, while outlining the framework and objectives associated with the initiative.”

Together, they cope the “collaborative effort will provide a broad population sample from which to obtain meaningful data on the incidence of head injuries in young adults, and will allow for the potential of longitudinal examinations into the health impact of head injuries as student-athletes transition into professional careers both on and off the field.”

What follows, according to the two leagues, are the byproducts of each conference’s independent work over the last two years:

• Developed a “Concussion Management Plan” for use by conference institutions, including baselines for return to academic and athletic activities (Big Ten, 2010);

• Conducted presidential discussions concerning the existing data and research regarding concussions in athletics and identified steps to enhance student-athlete safety (Ivy League, 2010);

• Developed a “Concussion Return to Play Checklist” and obtained agreement from athletic medicine staffs to use the checklist as a guide for their respective schools (Ivy League, 2011);

• Convened an ad hoc committee to review concussions in football and developed a series of recommendations, which were implemented in the fall of 2011, with the goal of lowering the incidence of concussion and subconcussive hits in football (Ivy League, 2011);

• Conducted a Head Injury Summit, with 40-plus attendees across several disciplines, including athletic medicine, neurology, neuropsychology, physics, engineering and biological sciences (Big Ten/CIC, 2011);

• Created a centralized data-sharing platform to enhance existing surveillance and research and accelerate new inquiries into concussions (Big Ten/CIC, 2011);

• Convened additional ad hoc committees to review concussions in men’s and women’s ice hockey, soccer and lacrosse and will make recommendations for those sports (Ivy League, 2012); and

• Launched a research initiative regarding how head injuries affect athletes in all sports (Big Ten/CIC, 2012).