Research

Recent and Past Publications from members of the BrainSPORT Team

Follow this link to access our recent and past publications on ranging topics in the field of concussion, traumatic brain injury, and brain health: UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program Research on PubMed >


Current and Ongoing Research Projects:

Endophenotypes of Persistent Post–Concussive Symptoms in Adolescents (CARE4Kids)

The prediction, detection, management, and prevention of persistent post-concussive symptoms (PPCS) represent some of the most important neurological challenges in the science of traumatic brain injury (TBI) today. PPCS will refer to post-concussive symptoms lasting ≥3 months, consistent with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Common Data Elements for concussion.1 We approach this using the concept of endophenotypes, quantitative behavioral traits characterized by objective measures using blood-based, imaging or autonomic measures or other techniques. Understanding the endophenotypes of PPCS will provide opportunities for early identification and potentially for intervention, treatment, and prevention. The overarching goal of this application is to develop a predictive algorithm for PPCS endophenotypes in early and middle adolescents (EMA) to inform clinical screening, management, and future research.

Four Corners Youth Consortium (4CYC)

In collaboration with national leaders in concussion research and treatment, the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program developed the first ever multicenter study and registry of pediatric TBI. Adopted and formed around the four corners of a child’s life – family, health, school, and sports/recreation – the 4CYC project investigates the natural history of concussion in youth with the goal of better guiding developmentally-sensitive diagnoses and creating comprehensive guidelines for future prevention and patient care. Youth between the ages of 5-18 and who are within 8 weeks of injury are currently being recruited.

For more information about the 4CYC project, please contact:

Michael Baham
[email protected]
310-825-8494

Brief Autonomic Assessment in Concussion Clinic (BAACC)

The BAACC project employs a prospective, observational research design to examine autonomic functioning in patients with concussion by using breathing and pupillary response metrics and to determine the impact of relevant demographic, psychiatric and medical variables between autonomic functioning and concussion recovery. Additionally, we are examining the feasibility and tolerability of administering a brief peripheral autonomic assessment via capnometer and pupillometry in our concussion clinic. We hope to pave a path to determine the utility of these portable devices in concussion clinics to objectively identify those at risk for persistent post-concussion symptoms and for early treatment stratification.

CARE Consortium

UCLA is a proud member of the Concussion Assessment Research and Education (CARE) Consortium. Known to be the largest prospective study of concussion, this ongoing project began in 2015 with funding from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Department of Defense (DoD). UCLA is one of the 30 collegiate institutions and military service academies that make up the CARE Consortium. This study aims to gain a better understanding of the neurobiopsychosocial nature of concussive injury and recovery in order to ultimately enhance the safety and health of our student-athletes, service members, youth sports participants and the broader public.
NCAA Division 1 athletes at UCLA are eligible to join. Data collected includes demographics, medical history, sports participation history, mental health measures, cognitive assessments, balance and reaction time tests measured at baseline and up to 4 time-points throughout the recovery process of injured athletes. Further, UCLA is one of 4 sites of the CARE Consortium participating in the Advanced Research Core, which collects head impact measurement, blood samples, and multimodal neuroimaging for a subset of participants in addition to the measures listed above.

Cerebral Blood Flow Study

Led by Dr. Meeryo Choe and in collaboration with Neural Analytics, Inc., the BrainSPORT clinical research team concluded data collection for the Cerebral Blood Flow (CBF) study in January 2020. The primary aim of CBF is to examine changes in cerebral hemodynamics post-injury. Findings from this study may lead to improved concussion care by providing an objective, physiological marker to assist in concussion diagnosis and Return-to-Play determination.
Data collected includes transcranial Doppler ultrasound, MRI, clinical concussion assessments, and sports participation and medical histories. Participants include UCLA club and varsity athletes, and high-school athletes from the Los Angeles area. We are extremely grateful to all of our participants for their time and effort, and their invaluable contribution to the future of concussion care.
We are excited to share our findings as we transition from data collection to data analysis. The CBF study provides a rich dataset from which our BrainSPORT team and collaborators will use to make discoveries with the potential to improve sport safety and advance concussion knowledge.

Home Intervention for Post-Concussive Symptoms (HIPS)

The Home-based Intervention for Post-concussive Symptoms (HIPS) program is an ongoing treatment study designed to investigate the efficacy of a 6-week, at-home intervention aimed at treating cognitive-behavioral factors and autonomic dysfunction associated with prolonged symptoms after concussion. Youth participants who are within 2 to 16 months post-injury and between the ages 13-25 are currently being recruited. Participants undergo psychophysiological assessment to help researchers better understand the role of nervous system dysfunction and then participate in a treatment program that incorporates biofeedback and psychotherapy to help patients re-engage in activities that may have been avoided due to symptoms.
For more information about HIPS, please contact: [email protected]

Recovery After Pediatric Brain Injury (RAPBI)

With the leadership of Dr. Robert Asarnow and a grant through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), we completed a series of multi-modal neuroimaging studies to show that children and adolescents who suffer from a moderate/severe traumatic brain injury show different trajectories of recovery; some show recovery in their thinking and behaviors as well as on neuroimaging markers of structural brain changes and connections, while others show continual degeneration and ongoing difficulties.  While we still do not know why some patients have good versus poor outcomes, our team is exploring potential inflammatory blood biomarkers that may point to genetic differences in how the nervous system responds to a trauma.  Additionally, we are exploring social and family factors that also appear to have a strong contribution to not only cognitive and emotional recovery after brain injury, but potentially also how the injured brain responds to an injury and reorganizes after trauma.

Detect and Protect: Measuring head impacts and brain blood flow to detect and prevent concussion in boxers and combat athletes

Currently, boxing and combat sport ringside physicians have minimal objective data to guide them in determining how injured a fighter is and when an athlete will be safe to return to contact risk. This research project has three goals: 1) Utilize novel instrumented mouthguards with kinematic sensors to record head impacts during a fight 2) After the fight, we will measure dynamic changes in brain blood flow using a non-invasive technique called transcranial Doppler (TCD). 3) We will validate the value of utilizing the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) to assess fighters for concussion after a bout.


Interested in contributing to our research efforts?! Please fill out this interest survey, a team member will follow up if there are any openings.