Wake Forest Baptist, Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State Join NCAA-Defense Department Sports Concussion Study

March 28, 2016

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the student-athletes and trainers from all men’s and women’s teams at Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem State University will be contributing to the largest-ever study of concussion in sport.

The NCAA-Department of Defense Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium study is designed to examine the natural history of concussion among student-athletes of both sexes at colleges and universities in all NCAA divisions. Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State are among the nine NCAA member schools added to the study this month, bringing the total number of participating institutions to 30.

Winston-Salem State is the first historically black college or university to be included in the research project. A member of NCAA Division II, Winston-Salem State fields 10 varsity teams that compete in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

“We are excited to be represented in in this concussion study and to partner with Wake Forest University and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in this endeavor,” said Tonia Walker, Winston-Salem State’s director of athletics. “We anticipate the outcome of the study will aid in enhanced preventive care for the student athletes and pay dividends in the years to come.”

Wake Forest, a member of Division I, competes in 16 sports in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“The safety and well-being of our student-athletes is our primary concern,” said Ron Wellman, Wake Forest’s athletic director. “Our participation in this program will not only serve those at Wake Forest but also student-athletes from around the nation.”

Beginning this summer, the Wake Forest Baptist personnel will direct the comprehensive preseason baseline screening for concussion on all Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State athletes (including cheerleaders). Any student-athlete who subsequently suffers a concussion will undergo follow-up evaluation.

The Wake Forest Baptist effort will be led by a multidisciplinary team that includes Christopher Miles, M.D., assistant professor of family and community medicine;  Laura Lintner, D.O., assistant professor of family and community medicine;  Christopher Whitlow, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of radiology; and Joel Stitzel, Ph.D., professor and chair of biomedical engineering.

Miles is the head primary care team physician for athletics at Wake Forest; Lintner fills the same role at Winston-Salem State. Together they will direct the CARE Consortium data-collection activities through the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

“This is an incredible opportunity for Wake Forest Baptist to enhance our partnership with Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State in this national effort to understand, manage and mitigate the risk of head impacts in athletics at the collegiate level,” Miles said. “The study also will potentially allow us to expand our ongoing National Institutes of Health-funded research into these issues in youth and adolescent athletes, with the ultimate goal of making sports safer.”

The information gathered from the student-athletes at the participating schools is analyzed by a research team led by scientists at the University of Michigan, Medical College of Wisconsin and Indiana University School of Medicine.

The CARE Consortium study, begun in 2014, already has collected data from more than 16,000 male and female student-athletes. That number is expected to increase to 25,000 during the third year of the study.

The NCAA and Defense Department have dedicated $30 million to the concussion study and an initiative to spur culture change regarding concussion. Participating institutions receive funds on a year-to-year basis to cover the costs of conducting the research. For Wake Forest Baptist, Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State, the total amount of funding for the 2016-17 academic year is approximately $300,000.

Media Relations

Mac Ingraham: mingraha@wakehealth.edu, 336-716-3487