At the Forefront of Pediatric Concussion Research

December 15, 2020

Dr. Cynthia LaBella

Pediatric sports medicine physician-researchers and their teams at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago are studying how auditory processing is disrupted in the brains of children and adolescents recovering from a concussion.

With grant support from the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, the research team aims to characterize the brain’s response to sound among a diverse group of children who’ve endured concussion, and accurately map stepwise improvement in their auditory processing skills as they recover. The study’s Co-Principal Investigators are Cynthia R. LaBella, M.D.; Director of the Institute of Sports Medicine, Lurie Children's; Professor of Pediatrics, Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Nina Kraus, Ph.D.; Hugh Knowles Professor, Northwestern University.

For the research, young athletes diagnosed with a concussion are being recruited from a tertiary-care sports medicine clinic and tested on behavioral and electrophysiological measures of auditory processing at their initial visit when they are diagnosed with a concussion and again at each visit until they are fully recovered and cleared to resume sports.

“This study provides an additional tool to not only identify concussions in youth, but also to monitor recovery and potentially predict which individuals may take longer to recover,” said Dr. LaBella. “The results will be helpful for clinicians who manage concussions and guide return-to-play decisions. Since hearing plays a huge role in learning, this work will also help clinicians in providing appropriate accommodations in the classroom for kids recovering from concussions.”

This research follows other publications focusing on pediatric concussion and auditory function from Dr. LaBella and her team at Lurie Children’s. In 2018, they published an investigation showing children with concussions demonstrate poorer hearing-in-noise abilities compared to controls with no prior history of concussion. And in 2016 they published evidence that neural coding of the fundamental frequency is disrupted following concussion.

Learn more about Lurie Children’s sports medicine research here.