Norwalk, CT – Media attention and public interest in sports concussion injuries has been increasing at a rapid rate. As a result, it is important for researchers and concussion advocates to enhance research efforts on this very important topic. To provide some insight on female concussions, we launched a research study in October 2013, which focused on female athletes from all sports, and their past and present experiences with concussions. Via social media tweets & posts about the study, 652 women contacted us to participate. Of the 597 women who were eligible to participate and sent a link to the survey, 538 women completed the forty question online survey. This research study was also was designed to explore female verses male athletes’ experiences with reporting concussions, another salient avenue in the concussions dialogue, as many athletes do not report concussions willingly or are mis-diagnosed.
Now we are recruiting for a NEW IBR approved study of male athletes and their experiences with concussions in conjunction with our recent efforts to recruit female athletes to discuss their concussion experiences.
This research aims to explore reasons why male/female athletes would report or not report concussions and examine potential gender differences that can inform the athletic, medical, and academic communities.
Current and former male athletes are eligible for this study which will be conducted by researchers from Clemson University with the advocacy group, Pink Concussions. For this study, male athletes, age 18 and over, who are willing to participate can sign up now at PinkConcussions.com. Participants will be emailed a link to a twenty-minute online survey about their experiences with sports and non-sport concussions and reporting concussions.
The research also will investigate male/female athletes’ willingness to have genetic testing that may show links to the repair and recovery of brain cells after concussion. After finishing the survey, participants in the study can opt for an additional study and consider submitting DNA collected by a cheek swab to be tested for variants at the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene. Testing for certain genes has previously documented an association between specific genetic factors and outcomes from injuries such as concussion.
Apolipoprotein E is a protein that is important in the repair and recovery of brain cells that have been damaged due to concussion. The clinical studies point to a relationship between certain genetic signatures and poorer overall concussion response. While additional evidence is needed to better understand the relationship between APOE status and concussion outcomes, the American Academy of Neurology introduced APOE testing into concussion management guidelines this year.
This research will be beneficial in shedding light on and male female athletes’ experiences with concussions and reporting concussions. We hope the results of this research will help further concussion research by focusing on the communicative element present in this issue, and the results of the study will be helpful for athletes, parents, administrators, physicians, and advocates.
Co-Researchers in this study are Dr. Jimmy Sanderson and Dr. Melinda Weathers in the Department of Communication Studies at Clemson University, along with Ms. Katherine Snedaker, MSW, of PinkConcussions.com.