Working across disciplines, Stanford researchers explore causes and treatments for concussions and how to prevent them
Stanford researchers are working together to better understand what causes concussions, how to diagnose and treat them and, perhaps most important, how to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Doctors, brain scientists and coaches alike used to think a concussion was no big deal – you get knocked out for a second, then you get it back together and keep on going with a game, a battle or just the rest of your day.
Not anymore. It’s now thought that even mild traumatic injuries can have potentially serious, lasting effects on the brain. Concern about those effects has led to changes in youth sports policies and campaigns aimed at raising awareness about the risks and symptoms associated with concussions and other brain injuries.
At the same time, teams of Stanford researchers in the Schools of Medicine, Engineering and Education and Stanford’s interdisciplinary life sciences institutes are working together to better understand what causes concussions, how to diagnose and treat them and, perhaps most important, how to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Understanding brain injuries
At one level, concussions are just what happens when somebody gets hit in the head. But until the last few years, researchers knew very little about what kinds of hits actually cause traumatic brain injuries. As it turns out, it’s not simply a matter of getting hit really hard. To figure that out, Stanford doctors and engineers worked together to develop new techniques to accurately measure how the head moves when struck and understand the effects those movements had on the brain inside.
Treatment and prevention
As researchers deepen their understanding of brain injuries, the next step is to devise new ways to quickly identify and treat concussion and related conditions. At the same time, researchers from the schools of Education, Engineering and Medicine are working on how to prevent those injuries from happening in the first place.
Tackling concussion on campus
Stanford researchers study head injuries through many lenses and with the support of a number of research centers and initiatives. But the university – and its faculty, staff and students – are also tackling concussion and traumatic brain injury head-on through programs aimed at improving safety on campus.