Research has always driven pediatric concussion care at Seattle Children’s. As part of physicians’ commitment to better understanding these injuries, Seattle Children’s was a founding member of the Seattle Pediatric Sports Concussion Research Collaborative, one of the largest pediatric concussion research programs in the country.

As part of the collaborative, which is enabled by a generous gift from the Satterberg Foundation, medical professionals at Seattle Children’s work with researchers at UW Medicine and Harborview Medical Center to fill notable gaps in research related to the epidemiology, prevention, pathophysiology and treatment of concussions in young children. The team has published roughly 20 studies each year since it was established in 2014 and currently has eight active investigations either enrolling participants or fully underway.

“We have a very broad concussion research portfolio at Seattle Children’s,” says Dr. Samuel R. Browd, director of Seattle Children’s Sports Concussion Program, neurosurgeon at Seattle Children’s and director of the UW Medicine Sports Health and Safety Institute. “Through our research, we’ve positioned ourselves to be a national leader in the management of youth concussions.”

Research with national implications

Recently, the group, led by Dr. Frederick Rivara, Seattle Children’s Guild Endowed Chair in Pediatric Research and vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics, received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a randomized control trial looking at collaborative care for children with persistent post-concussive symptoms. There are currently no evidence-based treatments for children with these persistent symptoms after concussion. Based on the results of a pilot study involving 50 children, the researchers will investigate whether those patients who received both cognitive behavioral therapy and case management recover more quickly than a control group receiving usual care.
The collaborative has also received a $1.6 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch in early 2018 a program called One Team, the primary goal of which is to implement concussion awareness strategies for children, coaches and parents. After a year of refining the education interventions, researchers will conduct a randomized control trial testing its effectiveness in youth football and soccer leagues in the Puget Sound and southern Georgia.

In addition, physicians at Seattle Children’s started and are contributing to the Four Corners Youth Concussion (4CYC) Registry, the first national registry to collect data related to concussions in children ages 5 to 18. The information collected will allow members of 4CYC, located at research institutions across the U.S., to identify new areas of investigation and generate new hypotheses.

“We are involved in this ongoing research to better understand concussions, especially in the pediatric population, so we may provide even better care,” says Dr. Monique Burton, medical director of Sports Medicine at Seattle Children’s. “We want to educate providers, coaches and athletes in our community to make sure they’re up-to-date on information and can recognize and approach concussion in a way that helps athletes get better as quickly and safely as possible.”

Real-world applications

Washington state has been a leader in addressing concussions in youth athletes, primarily through passage in 2009 of the Lystedt Law, the first return-to-play law in the country. Seattle Children’s athletic trainers provided input into the law’s language and were able to help schools proactively implement its requirements.

Because these athletic trainers are part of the largest athletic training program in the country, they have unique access to the specific needs and issues facing young athletes and have contributed to many of the research projects undertaken by the Seattle Pediatric Concussion Research Collaborative.
“Our athletic trainers are deployed widely to regional schools,” Browd says. “They’ve helped develop our best practices and referral patterns and allowed us to bring research projects into these schools.
“Seattle Children’s effort to lead nationally in concussion research will foster discoveries that will inform and shape how we deal with childhood injuries in the future,” Browd adds. “Our goal is to make sports safer for kids participating at all levels of play.”

Call 206-987-7777 for provider-to-provider patient consults and visit the Seattle Pediatric Concussion Research page to learn more.

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