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St. Charles Rehabilitation Collaborates on Concussion Research with Stony Brook University

St. Charles Rehabilitation is collaborating with Stony Brook University on a clinical research study to determine if dual task testing is a valuable indicator of concussion, a common but serious traumatic brain injury.

In dual task testing, individuals are asked to perform a physical task and a cognitive (thinking) task separately and then together at the same time. Researchers hope to gain valuable information about concussion treatment and understand more precise measures for determining concussion recovery and safe return to play. Athletes who return to the field before making a full recovery from concussion increase their risk of additional brain damage.

“Concussion is a disorder that affects balance and cognition more than other brain functions, which is why these parameters are routinely used to monitor recovery,” explained study researcher Jennifer Gray, DO, a physiatrist at St. Charles and medical co-director of ThinkSMART!™, St. Charles Hospital’s Concussion Management Program.

“Concussion can cause small changes in these functions and improving the ways we detect these minor alterations will assist physicians in making return to play decisions. Dual task testing may prove to be a more sensitive tool than current assessments because it combines two of the most troublesome areas for concussed patients.”

Study participants will be asked to perform a series of single balance tasks, such as standing on a hard and soft surface with eyes opened and closed. They will then be asked questions which test their attention and memory while attempting these same balance activities. The performance of concussed individuals will be compared to those of a control group who did not suffer a concussion to see if there are significant differences between the two groups. While all study subjects are expected to struggle with dual tasks, researchers believe dual tasks will prove more difficult for concussed participants than for those without this traumatic brain injury.

Stony Brook University’s Raymond McKenna, PT, PhD, who is the principal investigator for the study, will work with St. Charles Rehabilitation physicians to identify patients from ThinkSMART!™, St. Charles Hospital’s Concussion Management Program.

The ThinkSMART!™ program combines St. Charles Hospital’s clinical expertise in the evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation of traumatic brain injuries with baseline testing services and concussion education initiatives aimed at ensuring the safety and health of Long Island high school athletes. 

For more information about the ThinkSMART!™ Concussion Management Program at St. Charles Hospital, please call (631) 474-6797.