Water Immersion and Objective Biomarkers for Concussion Management

Brain with concussion areas highlighted.

This project will examine the use of HOWI therapy for concussion management and determine if face cooling and/or the cold pressor test are potential objective biomarkers of concussion.

Principal Investigator: Blair Johnson, PhD

Funding Agency: University at Buffalo NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award Pilot Studies Program

Period: 2019-2020

Abstract: Recently, the Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport developed by leading concussion researchers and clinicians recommended that concussion patients return to performing light activities that do not exacerbate symptoms to aid recovery, such as aerobic exercise. However, some patients might not be able to exercise due to orthopedic injuries, etc.; therefore, novel approaches to concussion management need to be explored. Water immersion is a potential therapy that could be used in place of aerobic exercise. In this light, however, there are currently no objective biomarker(s) of concussion. Objective biomarkers of concussion are important for: 1) clinicians to assist with return to play/work decisions, and 2) clinical trials focused on improving concussion recovery. Our data demonstrate that symptomatic concussed patients have abnormal autonomic responses to face cooling and the cold pressor test. Therefore, these tests appear to have promise as objective biomarkers of concussion. This project will examine the use of HOWI therapy for concussion management and determine if face cooling and/or the cold pressor test are potential objective biomarkers of concussion.