GPS Schools Concussion Study FAQs

Question: What is concussion? 

Answer: Concussion is broadly defined as the mildest form of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Within the skull, the brain floats in a protected womb of cerebrospinal fluid. Concussion occurs when a direct impact – either through a blow to the skull or the body – causes the brain to bruise from hitting the skull, often leading to long-term neurological damage.

 


Q: What is QBI’s concussion study

A: The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) investigates the effect of concussion on the brain using Magnetic Resonance Imagining (MRI) scans, cognitive testing, and biomarkers. Our researchers aim to identify markers in the blood that reflect concussion-induced changes to the brain to distinguish whether there is a brain injury and when the brain has fully recovered.  

We also refer to this study as the TACKLE Concussion Trial: Targeting Amateur Concussions using KnowLedge from neuroimaging and biomarkers to Enhance diagnosis and prevent long-term sequelae of concussions. You may see this name used on research documents if you volunteer for the study.

 


Q: How can we join the concussion study? 

A: To help progress the world’s understanding of concussion, please complete this short Expression of Interest form and QBI’s study coordinator will be in touch to discuss the next steps.

Join the study >>

 


Q: What happens after we express our interest in the concussion study?  

A: After you express your interest, QBI’s study coordinator will contact you directly via email or phone. The study coordinator will explain what’s involved in detail and check that your son is eligible to participate.  

If your son meets the eligibility criteria, the study coordinator will send you documents such as the study protocol, which contains detailed information about the research and the consent forms that you will need to complete for your son to participate.

 


Q: What are the benefits of volunteering?  

A: Research participants will be helping to improve the safety of contact sports globally. They will also play an active role in educating themselves about the signs and symptoms of brain injury. If they sustain a concussion through the season, they will have access to regular screening and will be carefully monitored by experts in brain research. Participants will also receive a copy of their brain scan(s).

 


Q: When will the QBI concussion study commence? 

A: Recruitment for this study began in May 2022. QBI would like the preliminary (baseline) tests to commence in October 2022 through to April 2023 in readiness for the 2023 GPS rugby season.

 


Q: What is the overall aim of the study? 

A: The safety of rugby and other contact sports would improve if concussions could be more reliably diagnosed. To achieve this, we aim to identify an objective, biologically defined marker of concussion, verified against best practice clinical assessments. There is no such marker linking a player’s clinical diagnosis to the underlying brain pathology. Our long-term vision is to develop an easy-to-administer, objective, clinically verified test that can rigorously diagnose concussions on the sideline or in the clinic, improving the safety of school, community and professional rugby.

 


Q: Who is leading the concussion study?  

A: QBI Associate Professor Fatima Nasrallah, an expert neuroscientist with a background in magnetic resonance imaging and interdisciplinary brain research, leads this study.

 


Q: Who is managing the concussion study? 

A: The trial is administered through QBI at The University of Queensland, in collaboration with World Rugby, Rugby Australia, Qscan, Trajan and Sonic Health.

 


Q: Who will be considered for the study? 

A: The study is open to Year 9, 10 and 11 GPS school rugby players. The control group for this study is GPS school basketball players, who will also be invited to participate.

 


Q: What does the study involve? 

A: Participation in the study will involve a combination of the following: MRI scans, cognitive testing and provision of blood samples.  

Ideally, baseline screening is complete before contact training commences. This will involve a 30-minute brain scan (MRI), a blood test, and a cognitive test. The scan is conducted independently at a local Qscan clinic. Blood tests will be taken on school grounds by the school nurse. 

If the athlete sustains a concussion during pre-season or in season, he will need to present for a scan and blood sample at two, five and 14 days following the incident. He will also need to do a cognitive test at five days. If your son has persistent symptoms, we will do one more round of testing (scan, blood and cognitive test).

 


Q: How can parents help? 

A: The best way to help is by encouraging GPS athletes to take part in this study. QBI needs as many GPS rugby players (who fit the study criteria) and a smaller group of basketball players to sign up.  

Secondly, those athletes who experience a concussion will need to commit to a series of follow-ups: symptom assessment with doctors, brain scans at Qscan, and blood tests. These follow-ups are vital for understanding how the brain recovers following a concussion. By encouraging your son to be diligent with post-concussion follow-ups, you will help QBI neuroscientists decipher the concussion puzzle.

 


Q: Will participants need to pay for the scans and blood tests? 

A: No. The MRI scans and blood tests are provided free of charge to research volunteers. QBI will also cover travel costs and parking to attend scanning appointments.

 


Q: How will my son’s data be used? 

A: Your son’s data will remain anonymous and brain scans will be used for research purposes only. Only the research team will have access to the data, and to protect everyone’s privacy, all the data is de-identified and stored on secure password-protected databases at The University of Queensland. 

Information gained during the study may be published, but your son and their school will not be identified.

 


Q: Who can I contact if I have any questions before I sign up?  

A: If you have any questions about the concussion study, please email the QBI study coordinator via QBIconcussionstudy@uq.edu.au

 


Q: Who is the main contact for parents and athletes throughout the study?  

A: QBI has a study coordinator who will be the primary point of contact for participants and parents. Email QBIconcussionstudy@uq.edu.au

 


Q: Will I get to see the study results when it’s complete?  

A: Once the study is complete, researchers will collate, examine and analyse all the information collected during the study. This analysis can take some time. If your son has taken part in the study, researchers will make the results available to you. It is also expected that the outcomes of the study will be made available in reports or papers published in scientific journals.

 


Q: How long will this research study take?  

A: Your son’s involvement in this study may be up to 21 days following a concussion. During this time, the research team will contact you at each of the study time points to organise for your son to complete the assessments.  

The duration of the whole research project will be approximately three years.  

There may be another study following this one. QBI will ask if you consent to be contacted about the possibility of participating in the ongoing research. If you agree, this does not commit you to taking part in a future study, only to be contacted to discuss it.

 


Q: How is this research funded?  

A: This study is funded by the Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland and  philanthropic donors. Please visit our donation page if you are interested in supporting concussion research at QBI.

 


Q: How many schools and athletes are participating in the study? 

A: All nine GPS schools have agreed to participate in the study. QBI aims to recruit up to 360 participants into the study.

 


Q: Where are the Qscan locations in Brisbane?  

A: Qscan clinics are in Annerley, Clayfield, Redcliffe, Parkwood, Red Hill, Southport, Carindale, Toowong and Upper Coomera.

 


Q: Why aren’t all rugby players at my school being asked to participate?  

A:  Due to the high research costs involved, QBI’s concussion study is focused on a targeted group of GPS rugby players, who have the greatest potential to be involved for the duration of the study.

 


Q: Do we have to participate?  

A: Participation in QBI’s concussion study is entirely voluntary. Your son is under no obligation to take part, and even if you consent to his participation, you can withdraw from the research at any stage. You will continue to receive the best possible care, regardless of your decision.

 


Q: What if my son is a boarder? Will you organise to get him to Qscan?  

A: If your son is a boarder, the school or QBI will make transport arrangements to Qscan if he needs assistance.

 


Q: What is the Queensland Brain Institute?  

A: The Queensland Brain Institute is one of the world’s leading neuroscience institutes, located at The University of Queensland, with more than 400 scientists dedicated to understanding how the brain works in health and disease, including diagnosis and treatment for neurological conditions such as concussion, stroke, dementia, MND, anxiety, depression and more. QBI works to unlock the mysteries of the brain to generate new knowledge, understand learning and memory and develop new technologies to improve lives.

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