AIS To Lead Major Concussion Research Project

he Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has announced the contribution of $340,000 in Australian Government funding to launch the Concussion and Brain Health project 2021-24.

The project will begin this year and will include researching the comparative brain health of retired athletes from collision and non-collision sports with the hope to contribute to the evidence and understanding of sport-related concussion.

As part of the project, the AIS will work with medical experts and researchers to update the Concussion in Sport Australia: Position Statement, which is a concussion management resource launched by Sport Australia in 2019.

The AIS will also work with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), University of Newcastle, and University of Canberra to complete research on the brain health of retired elite athletes.

AIS chief medical officer, Dr David Hughes, said the Concussion and Brain Health project will improve the international understanding of long-term brain health outcomes for elite athletes.

“This project will evaluate several domains of brain health in retired elite athletes including neuropsychological assessment, brain imaging, objective somatosensory assessment and potential involvement in a brain donor program,” Dr Hughes said.

“Associate Professor Andrew Gardner of HMRI and the University of Newcastle has been leading one of the largest and most comprehensive brain health research programs for retired athletes in the world, involving in-person evaluations of more than 150 retired elite level collision sport players.

“The AIS, HMRI, The University of Newcastle and University of Canberra are combining to take this further, recruiting a control group of retired non-collision elite athletes.

“We are aiming to collect data on the brain health of more than 40 retired athletes from non-collision sports every year.

“This study is available to former elite level men and women athletes who were not involved in contact or collision sport,” he said.

In updating the Concussion in Sport Australia: Position Statement, the AIS said it hopes to address evidence relating directly to concussion in female athletes and para-athletes, as well as the potential implications for long-term brain health and physiotherapy-guided rehabilitation.