With more than 13 million youth athletes playing sports year-round, thousands of concussions occur every year. Researchers know that rest, both physical and cognitive, following a concussion are ideal for recovery. What’s unknown, however, is the optimal rest period. With a $540,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Pengcheng Xun, an assistant scientist at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, and Associate Professor Dr. Jingzhen Yang at Ohio State University are seeking to change this.
“Youth sports-related concussion is a major public health problem in the USA,” Dr. Xun, the site principal investigator at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, explains. “This study is the first to objectively measure physical and cognitive rest immediately after a sports-related concussion in youth athletes. In addition, we’ll be the first to directly assess the optimal levels of rest for concussed youth.”
Between now and June 30, 2018, Dr. Xun and his research team will follow youth athletes between the ages of 11 and 17 from 15 high schools and three middle schools across the nation to systematically evaluate the effectiveness of physical and cognitive rest recommendations. The ultimate goal, Dr. Xun says, is to examine the patterns of rest and identify the ideal rest levels for these athletes.
“We’ll be using objective tools to assess rest, cutting-edge computer techniques to analyze our study data, and advanced statistical expertise to examine this important public health issue,” he says. “The results of this study will fill in critical gaps in knowledge and provide findings with direct clinical and practical implications for young athletes, families, sports medicine physicians, and schools.”