Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Concussion Research Laboratory

Michael Collins, PhD
Executive and Clinical Director

Anthony Kontos, PhD
Research Director

The Concussion Research Laboratory is part of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program directed by Dr. Michael (Micky) Collins. The program is the premier concussion clinical and research program in the United States. The program has over 25 faculty and staff at several sites in the Pittsburgh area, with approximately 20,000 patient visits annually. The mission of our program is to set the “standard of care,” for this injury by employing a targeted evidence-based approach to assessment, management, and treatment of patients with concussion. 

Our research program directed by Dr. Anthony Kontos continues to be at the leading edge of clinical concussion research and supports our program’s commitment to translating research into better clinical care for our patients. The Concussion Research Laboratory is located at the Rivertech offices on Pittsburgh Southside and consists of over 1200 sq ft of dedicated research, meeting, and office space. The lab contains advanced testing equipment including near infrared spectroscopic (NIRS) and EEG imaging equipment, a portable force platform, and multiple computer testing stations with the Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT), MatLab, and other analytical software programs. We also have strong collaborative relationships with the Magnetic Resonance Research Center (MRRC), which provides us with access to 3T and 7T MRI scanners for neuroimaging studies. Full-time research and lab coordinators, research associates, and post-doctoral fellows staff the lab.

 

Current Clinical Research Focus Areas

Characterizing Concussion
During the past year we have conducted several large, multi site studies including one involving over 30,000 NCAA collegiate student athletes over 2,500 concussions. This study is the largest concussion related study to date, the equivalent of a “Framingham Heart Study” of concussion- and is paving the way to understanding the effects of concussion in collegiate student-athletes to better inform treatments.

Neuroimaging for Concussion
We are also involved in a cutting-edge, multi-site project funded through the General Electric-National Football League (GE-NFL) Head Health Initiative, which combines clinical and advanced neuroimaging markers to assess and monitor recovery from concussion.

mTBI Research with US Military Personnel
We have cultivated several clinical research partnerships with the US Army Special Operations including a large, ongoing, multisite study to enhance screening for vestibular and oculomotor impairment following concussion. We are also examining the neurophysiology associated with post-traumatic migraine headaches in partnership with National Intrepid Center of Excellence brain injury center at Walter Reed Medical Center. Finally, we are conducting clinical and neuroimaging research on our precision medicine approach to assessing and treating mTBI in active duty and former military personnel titled Targeted Evaluation and Active Management for Traumatic Brain Injury (TEAM TBI).

 

Research Papers and Leadership

In the past year, our faculty and fellows published over 35 peer-reviewed papers in journals including the JAMA Pediatrics, American Journal of Sports Medicine, Pediatrics, and Neurosurgery. Our grants and publications continue to support our clinical treatment model in populations ranging from pediatric and collegiate athletes to US military personnel.  In addition, Dr. Kontos served as the Subacute Chairperson for the NIH/National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Common Data Elements (CDE) for Sport Concussion, which developed and published the accepted standards for research in the field.

 

Current Funded Projects

We are currently involved in external research grants and contracts from sources including the National Institutes for Health (NIH), Department of Defense (DoD), NCAA, and GE-NFL. Below is a partial list of current funded grants and contracts conducted through the Concussion Research Laboratory:

  • NFL/GE Head Health Challenge Initiative: for Advanced MRI applications for mild traumatic brain injury - Phase 2 (Collins MW, Kontos AP co-PIs)
  • NCAA/DoD Grand Alliance Consortium: The Concussion Assessment, Research And Education (CARE) Consortium - Longitudinal Clinical Study (Site-PIs Kontos, Collins)
  • National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: K01 Award  studying balance-attention interference following concussion. (PI- Kontos, Furman, Collins, Sparto, Redfern, Balaban, Yates, Gandhi)
  • U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Psychological Health/Traumatic Brain Injury Joint Program Committee Grant: Study of the TEAM TBI approach to TBI (Co-PIs- Okonkwo, Schneider, Kontos, Collins)
  • Center for Military Medicine Research Grant: Brain network activation in military personnel with post-traumatic migraine following mTBI (PI- Kontos)

 

CONTACT

Anthony Kontos, PhD
Research Director/Associate Professor
Concussion Research Laboratory
3858 South Water St
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
412.904.1298