NCAA-DOD Grand Alliance

Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium

Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and sport-related concussion (SRC) are major public health problems. Although significant advances have been made in our understanding of concussion, to date, the natural history of concussion remains poorly defined. The NCAA-DOD CARE Consortium addresses the true natural history of SRC clinical recovery, which has critical implications for improving safety, injury prevention, and medical care in athletes and military personnel.

About the Study 

The NCAA-DOD CARE Consortium is the largest concussion study in history, with funding exceeding $30 million, pairing the NCAA and the Department of Defense (DoD), and now includes 30 institutions of higher education across the country, including Humboldt State University.

The CARE Consortium, part of the broader NCAA-DOD Grand Alliance, is composed of two major components:

  • Clinical Study Core (CSC): which aims to define how symptoms manifest and evolve over time in different people (known in the scientific community as the “natural history” of concussion).

  • Advanced Research Core (ARC): which seeks to identify the neurobiology of concussion and repetitive head impact exposure (how the brain itself is affected).

Purpose of the Study

To conduct a prospective, longitudinal, multi-site, multi-sport investigation that delineates the natural history of concussion in males and females by incorporating a multi-dimensional assessment of standardized clinical measures of post-concussive symptomatology, performance-based testing (e.g., cognitive function, postural stability), and psychological health.

HSU joined the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium in 2015 as a performance site. As a performance site, HSU has more than 450 student-athletes annually who will be eligible to contribute health data to the large-scale study. Athletes from over 30 NCAA member universities and military academies currently contribute data to the consortium.

Dr. Justus Ortega, Director of the North Coast Concussion Program in the Department of Kinesiology and Recreation Administration at HSU serves as the lead investigator for the performance site at HSU.

HSU participates in the NCAA’s Division II in football, softball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and crew. All HSU student-athletes who participate in the study undergo a baseline neurocognitive assessment -- including tests for memory, posture and balance and a family medical history -- as well as an assessment for concussion symptoms such as headaches and dizziness. Any player who later experiences a concussion on the field will undergo these same assessments multiple times throughout recovery, beginning within 48-hours after injury and ending once the athlete has returned to activity/sport. All athletes will complete an exit assessment at the conclusion of their final athletic season.

visual graph of NCAA-DOD concussion research committees