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Center collaborates with Michigan Athletics to provide concussion baseline testing for U-M student athletes

The University of Michigan has a vibrant sports history, with University leadership making the health and well-being of our student-athletes a top priority. As we sing “Hail to the Victors” with family and friends at different sporting events, have you ever wondered what the Concussion Center is doing to support the U-M teams and athletes? How athletic medicine implements evidence-based clinical care for student-athletes? Who are the unsung heroes and heroines working behind the scenes? The current standard of care for athletes includes a thorough physical and neurological baseline assessment before the season begins. When injuries occur, clinical staff rely on these objective metrics to support their return-to-play decision-making.  

University of Michigan athletic training staff demonstrates concussion protocol testing they use on student athletes at the South Athletic Complex in Ann Arbor on Nov. 12, 2021.

Since 2018, the Concussion Center has been organizing baseline testing sessions in collaboration with Michigan Athletics. This past summer, the Center once again organized a “concussion baseline testing team,” consisting of five student interns led by Benjamin Wojtas, a strength and conditioning coach in Michigan Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). Ben brought over ten years of strength and conditioning coaching experience at the high school and collegiate levels with him to U-M and before joining the University was named the State of Michigan’s 2020 “coach of the year,” nominated by the National High School Strength Coaches Association (NHSSCA). The Concussion Center is proud to have Ben as a staff member and an ambassador: “Ben transitioned into the team leader role for the baseline testing program with very short notice, and he was able to effectively organize training sessions, work with multiple stakeholders with competing priorities, and deliver timely and exceptional service to our Athletics partners. This was truly impressive, and we are very lucky to have Ben on our team.” said Dr. JT Eckner, our Associate Director for Research who oversees the baseline testing program.

As a strength and conditioning coach, Ben sees the value of baseline metrics. “It’s important to obtain these measurements to ensure that the Athletic Medicine team can be confident each time an athlete returns to play following these injuries that they are in the best position to be healthy and successful going forward. I feel very fortunate for the opportunity to work with great student interns and staff members through both the Concussion Center and Michigan Athletics in providing exceptional care to our student athlete population,” said Ben Wojtas. The team’s collaborative efforts in providing exceptional care to student athletes have also been recognized by Athletics Medicine: “As a Student-Athlete Health and Welfare team member, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of the U-M Concussion Center as a complimentary service to our athletics community. We strive to implement and follow protocols for the well-being of our students. The support of the Concussion Center has been vital in allowing us to get our student-athletes to a successful gameday experience!” said Mr. Lenny Navitskis, U-M’s Staff Athletic Trainer.

Most students who applied for this summer baseline testing opportunity were interested in neuroscience, kinesiology, sports medicine, or psychology. Having the opportunity to be on the athletics campus and support athletic trainers and coaching staff in performing these important baseline assessments has been a rewarding educational experience for the students. “I am trying to make a difference in the world, and that means making a difference one baseline test at a time,” said Emiliano Davalos, a U-M Psychology student helping this summer.

The support of the Concussion Center has been vital in allowing us to get our student-athletes to a successful gameday experience!

Lenny Navitskis, Staff Athletic Trainer

Author: Tina

Dr. JT Eckner introduced the Concussion Learning Health System (C-LHS) to poster session participants.

To foster a community of practice supporting multidisciplinary efforts to build learning health systems across campus, the Department of Learning Health Sciences (DLHS) convened the 2022-2023 LHS Collaboratory Kick-off Poster Session on Thursday, September 22 at Palmer Commons. Representatives from over 25 campus units joined the celebration luncheon to showcase the progress they have made to date and make new connections for future collaboration.

As part of the Center’s efforts to facilitate a personalized approach to concussion, our team has been building a Concussion Learning Health System (C-LHS) to generate and translate concussion knowledge to improve clinical care. Thus far, our team has identified 23 research projects and 16 infrastructure/ quality improvement (QI) initiatives falling under the C-LHS umbrella to further efforts toward our goal.

Our Associate Director for Research, Dr. JT Eckner, and Managing Director, Tina Chen, represented the Concussion Center during this event. We shared lessons learned from this journey and a strategic direction for future research projects, with C-LHS serving as the backbone. During the interactive poster session, we brainstormed with other campus partners who are building similar infrastructure to support research innovation in their own specialty areas. Partners represented the School of Education, Precision Health, e-Health and Artificial Intelligence (e-HAIL), and multiple Michigan Medicine Departments including Physician Medicine & Rehabilitation, Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine, and Health Information Technology & Services.

As the C-LHS moves into its next phase, we look forward to future opportunities to share our data-to-knowledge (D2K), knowledge-to-practice (K2P), and practice-to-data (P2D) learning experiences with our members and to exploring additional collaboration opportunities.

Every year, the Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI) hosts a “Fall Conference.” One of the largest of its kind, the two-day conference draws brain injury survivors, clinicians, and advocates across the country together. This September, U-M Concussion Center faculty members hosted two informative sessions, starting with Dr. Steve Broglio’s presentation on the future of concussion through the efforts spearheaded by the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium, the largest concussion and repetitive head impact study in history. 

BIAMI Fall Conference logo

In the United States, the long-term neurological impacts of concussion started to gain significant public attention in the early 2000s. Based on a shared concern and interest in understanding concussion, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) established the CARE Consortium in 2014 to “inform science, clinical care and public policy related to concussion and repetitive head impact exposure in the U.S. Military Service Academy (MSA) cadets and collegiate student athletes.”1

Dr. Broglio’s presentation introduced the three main goals of the CARE Consortium: 1) create a national multi-site for concussion research; 2) conduct a prospective, longitudinal, multi-site, multi-sport study of the natural history of concussion across all 26 men’s and women’s sports, and 3) conduct studies that integrate biological factors to advance our understanding of this brain injury. Since 2014, the investigators have published over 100 papers to support the mission. To date, over 137 million data points are now published and publicly accessible through the Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research (FITBIR) database.

Currently, Dr. Broglio and his team at the University of Michigan are leading the next study phase, known as the CARE/ Service Academy Longitudinal mTBI Outcomes Study (SALTOS) Integrated (CSI) Study, investigating the long-term impacts of head impact exposure and concussion in NCAA collegiate athletes and military cadets. “No concussions are the same,” said Dr. Broglio, “and our goal is to do the best  science possible to protect our service members and the general public based on lessons learned through the CARE consortium.” 

Other center members joined Dr. Broglio for a second break-out session, where evidence-based strategies and best practices were shared with conference participants through a live Q&A panel.

Given the complexity of concussion, and differential post-injury impact across patient populations (e.g., anxiety and depression in student athletes after concussion), the panel included members from diverse clinical areas, including Dr. David Millward (U-M Athletics Medical Director), Dr. Srijan Sen (Director of U-M’s Eisenberg Family Depression Center), Dr. JT Eckner (Associate Professor, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation), and Dr. Katharine Seagly (Assistant Professor, Physician Medicine & Rehabilitation). 

Center members kicked off the panel by sharing their insights on the mechanisms of injury, common signs and symptoms, and various social and psychological factors impacting the injury profile. The audience received evidence-based recommendations in concussion symptom management and strategies to facilitate a return to normal activities, such as classroom learning, playing sports, and driving. As an institution with a rich athletics tradition, conference participants had the opportunity to learn about the unique challenges faced by U-M student-athletes and the support received from athletic medicine providers and coaching staff. Through this one-hour moderated panel discussion, practical tips and resources were disseminated, including the free concussion training certificate produced by the center, helping coaches and other adults affiliated with youth sports meet the State of Michigan’s requirements.

“We are so grateful for your willingness to share your time, energy, knowledge, and talent to help improve the lives of the people we serve,” said Nichole Shotwell, incoming President and CEO of BIAMI, “the session was very well received, and I am proud to be a Michigan Wolverine!”

1  CARE Consortium: History & Mission. https://careconsortium.net/about/history-mission/

Every year, the Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI) hosts a “Fall Conference.” One of the largest of its kind, the two-day conference draws brain injury survivors, clinicians, and advocates across the country together. This September, U-M Concussion Center faculty members hosted two informative sessions, starting with Dr. Steve Broglio’s presentation on the future of concussion through the efforts spearheaded by the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium, the largest concussion and repetitive head impact study in history. 

BIAMI Fall Conference logo

In the United States, the long-term neurological impacts of concussions started to gain significant public attention in the early 2000s. Based on a shared concern and interest in understanding concussion, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) established the CARE Consortium in 2014 to “inform science, clinical care and public policy related to concussion and repetitive head impact exposure in the U.S. Military Service Academy (MSA) cadets and collegiate student athletes”.

Dr. Broglio’s presentation introduced the three main goals of the CARE Consortium: 1) create a national multi-site for concussion research; 2) conduct a prospective, longitudinal, multi-site, multi-sport study of the natural history of concussion across all 26 men’s and women’s sports; and 3) conduct studies that integrate biological factors to advance our understanding of this brain injury. Since 2014, the investigators have published over 100 papers to support the mission. To date, over 137 million data points are now published and publicly accessible through the Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research (FITBIR) database.

Currently, Dr. Broglio and his team at the University of Michigan are leading the next study phase, known as the CARE/ Service Academy Longitudinal mTBI Outcomes Study (SALTOS) Integrated (CSI) Study, investigating the long-term impacts of head impact exposure and concussion in NCAA collegiate athletes and military cadets. “No concussions are the same,” said Dr. Broglio, “and our goal is to do the best  science possible to protect our service members and the general public based on lessons learned through the CARE consortium.” 

Other center members joined Dr. Broglio for a second break-out session, where evidence-based strategies and best practices were shared with conference participants through a live Q&A panel.

Given the complexity of concussion, and differential post-injury impact across patient populations (e.g., anxiety and depression in student-athletes after concussion), the panel included members from diverse clinical areas, including Dr. David Millward (U-M Athletics Medical Director), Dr. Srijan Sen (Director of U-M’s Eisenberg Family Depression Center), Dr. JT Eckner (Associate Professor, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation), and Dr. Katharine Seagly (Assistant Professor, Physician Medicine & Rehabilitation). 

Center members kicked off the panel by sharing their insights on the mechanisms of injury, common signs and symptoms, and various social and psychological factors impacting the injury profile. The audience received evidence-based recommendations in concussion symptom management and strategies to facilitate a return to normal activities, such as classroom learning, playing sports, and driving. As an institution with a rich athletics tradition, conference participants had the opportunity to learn about the unique challenges faced by U-M student-athletes and the support received from athletic medicine providers and coaching staff. Through this one-hour moderated panel discussion, practical tips and resources were disseminated, including the free concussion training certificate produced by the center, helping coaches and other adults affiliated with youth sports meet the State of Michigan’s requirements.

“We are so grateful for your willingness to share your time, energy, knowledge, and talent to help improve the lives of the people we serve,” said Nichole Shotwell, Vice President of BIAMI, “the session was very well received, and I am proud to be a Michigan Wolverine!”


1 CARE Consortium: History & Mission. https://careconsortium.net/about/history-mission/