CU Boulder to lead multi-year Pac-12 research initiative to study student-athlete concussions
The Pac-12 Conference announced that the University of Colorado Boulder has been selected to lead its Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Concussion Coordinating Unit, a multi-year, multi-site research initiative that will establish best practices and clinical infrastructure for advancing education on traumatic brain injury in student-athletes through the use of SyncThink EYE-SYNC technology, a world leader in neuro-technology with intellectual property in eye-tracking.
CU Boulder will serve as the coordinating institution for the PCCU in collaboration with the NCAA’s Concussion Assessment Research and Education (CARE) Consortium, with researchers and staff working to establish objective data collection protocols across all Pac-12 Conference member institutions and implementing measurable goals for assessing concussions in student-athletes. The CARE Consortium was jointly created by the NCAA and Department of Defense.
“The Pac-12 Conference through our Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative is committed to taking proactive steps to support the health and well-being of our student-athletes,” said Woodie Dixon, the Pac-12’s general counsel and senior vice president of business affairs.
The far-reaching scope of the study, which will compile years’ worth of longitudinal data on the brain health of student-athletes across multiple sports, represents a major step forward in establishing baseline procedures for concussion treatment and addresses a critical issue facing athletes across the country.
“CU and other Pac-12 member universities have taken several steps in recent years to improve the health and wellness of our student-athletes,” said CU Boulder Athletic Director Rick George. “I am pleased that CU will take the lead on coordinating the study of concussion impacts and prevention so that we can continue to look out for the best interests of student-athletes here and across the nation.”
SyncThink, a California-based technology company, will allow the PCCU to integrate cutting-edge technology into its research efforts. Founded by Dr. Jamshid Ghajar, director of the Stanford Concussion and Brain Performance Center, the company’s EYE-SYNC® device is an FDA Class II medical device that is an integrated, head-mounted eye-tracking virtual reality system used for recording, viewing and analyzing eye movements in support of identifying visual tracking impairment.
As a part of this program, each participating institution will receive two EYE-SYNC® devices to capture objective brain health metrics among its member institutions and to support national research on concussion currently underway within the NCAA.
“This is a good example of how our faculty and Athletic Department come together to use cutting-edge research to positively impact humanity,” said CU Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano, who also serves on the NCAA Board of Governors and Board of Directors. “As leaders of the NCAA and Pac-12, it is incumbent upon us to do everything we can to study this important issue so that our student-athletes are healthy during their collegiate careers and beyond.”
Matthew McQueen, an associate professor of Integrative Physiology, will serve as one of the primary research investigators along with Theresa Hernandez of CU Boulder and Dawn Comstock of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and the Colorado School of Public Health.
“CU Boulder leadership has fostered a healthy connection between athletics and academics, which opens doors for impactful projects like this,” McQueen said.
All Pac-12 conference members will be phased into the PCCU over a three-year period, with CU Boulder acting as the conference’s administrative and operations coordinating unit for collecting and storing data and coordinating the various digital databases, equipment vendors, program, university research offices with the NCAA to ensure the proper implementation of the program and data collection system.