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Repetitive Subconcussive Head Impacts – Brain Alterations and Clinical Consequences (REPIMPACT)

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Inga Koerte
Affiliation: Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy
Funding: 2017 to 2020

Millions of individuals worldwide are exposed to repetitive subconcussive head impacts. Because there are no immediate symptoms, these head impacts are often considered harmless. The goal of our study is to investigate the effects of repetitive head impacts in youth athletes. Our central hypothesis is that exposure to repetitive head impacts - even in the absence of concussion - result in alterations of the brain’s structure, function, and development, and that these alterations will be accompanied by clinical sequelae.

We propose a multidisciplinary, longitudinal cohort study that includes:

  • fundamental research to understand the basic mechanisms of repetitive head impacts on a biological and functional level using a comprehensive battery of innovative MRI techniques, high density EEG, and blood and saliva sample arrays; and
  • clinical research to develop new strategies for diagnosis, prediction, and prevention of brain alterations, where we will apply behavioural tests and measures of exposure to head impacts.

Our research will also yield technological advances such as innovative image analysis algorithms implemented in shared resources, and easily applicable saliva tests for the improvement of early diagnosis. Taken together, our project may have far reaching impact on the health of millions worldwide who are exposed to repetitive head impacts.