The future of health care at Mayo Clinic continues to raise awareness of concussions in youth athletes with the goal of preventing concussions and protecting our athletes' brains. A step forward in accomplishing this goal on a national level occurred at the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit, where more than 200 participants including medical experts, coaches, parents and players joined President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., to talk about ensuring children's safety in sports.
David Dodick, M.D., a neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona and an expert in concussion care and research, joined other medical experts and President Obama at the summit. Dr. Dodick shared how the summit, "highlights this as a public health crisis, and elevates this to a national health priority."
The White House asked the panelists to submit a list of key concussion initiatives to the summit organizers. Dr. Dodick submitted Mayo Clinic's efforts, including:
- Rochester Minnesota Youth Study - In an attempt to better understand the impact of youth football on the developing brain, and develop rapid and reliable tools to diagnose concussion and monitor its recovery, this study will be evaluating pre- to post-season changes in cognitive functioning through the use of a computerized cognitive assessment test and eye movement analysis as measured by the King-Devick Test with Tobii eye tracking technology.
- Comprehensive Concussion Solution for Arizona Schools - Mayo Clinic will expand its efforts to ensure the safety and brain health of youth athletes across Arizona by implementing a comprehensive concussion program for youth athletes. This will involve a statewide concussion educational program for middle and high schools, developing standardized and evidence-based strategies to reduce the risk of concussion, ensuring the accurate diagnosis of concussion at the time of injury, and managing the safe return-to-learn and return-to-play decisions for all concussed youth athletes.
- Reduce Concussion in Amateur Ice Hockey - Mayo Clinic held two major International Ice Hockey Summits on Concussion in 2010 and 2013 in Rochester, Minn. Global experts (clinicians and scientists) in concussion, equipment, officiating and kinesiology as well as professional athletes, participated. The proceedings were published as a call to action and as a result, body checking in peewee hockey was eliminated by Hockey Canada and USA Hockey. As a result of the 2013 Summit, Mayo Clinic has proposed the elimination of fighting from junior ice hockey.
The future of concussion research at Mayo Clinic continues to move forward with the following studies:
- Together with collaborating scientists across multiple institutions around North American and Europe, Mayo Clinic is actively engaged in the development of clinical biomarkers for the diagnosis of and recovery monitoring from concussion.
- Collaborating scientists at Arizona State University and Mayo Clinic are evaluating concussion-induced activation of molecules within the brain that stimulate dormant stem cells. The hope is that this research may reveal future targets for treatment that will limit the damage and enhance the repair of injured brain tissue after concussion.
- Researchers are attempting to determine the precise nature of the injury to the brain, at a cellular level, from the rotational and acceleration forces encountered during hits to the head in ice hockey players.
- Mayo Clinic is embarking on a study to evaluate the effectiveness of an oral medication, administered at the time of concussion, to prevent or minimize the brain injury and symptoms that typically occur after a concussion. To date, no such study investigating a treatment to prevent the cascade of events that occur in the brain after a concussion has been performed in athletes.
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