Research Scope

Recent research has indicated that TBI, including mTBI/concussion with repeated exposures, leads to neuronal changes, and cognitive, behavioral, psychological, and sensory impairments. Further, research suggests that TBI, including mTBI, leads to chronic consequences (lasting 3 months or greater) in some individuals. Three critical issues related to the chronic effects of neurotrauma over the lifespan of the patient include:

Identification and characterization of the anatomic, molecular, and physiological mechanisms of TBI;

Evaluation of how comorbidities are associated with and exacerbated by neurotrauma; and

Appropriate treatment and rehabilitative strategies.

Research Objectives

To establish the association (onset, prevalence, and severity) of the chronic effects of mTBI and common comorbidities: psychological, neurological (memory, seizure, autonomic dysfunction, sleep disorders), sensory deficits (visual, auditory, vestibular), movement disorders, pain (including headache), cognitive, and neuroendocrine deficits.

To determine whether there is a causative effect of chronic mTBI/concussion on neurodegenerative disease and other comorbidities.

To identify diagnostic and prognostic indicators of neurodegenerative disease and other comorbidities associated with mTBI/concussion.

To develop and advance methods to treat and rehabilitate chronic neurodegenerative disease and comorbid effects of mTBI/concussion.

Research Priorities

The CENC is dedicated to establishing a comprehensive understanding of the chronic effects associated with neurotrauma, primarily focused on mTBI/concussion. Briefly, the DoD/VA defines mTBI as associated with normal structural imaging (excluding DTI, fMRI, etc.), loss of consciousness lasting 30 minutes or less, alteration of consciousness/mental state from a moment up to 24 hours, and post-traumatic amnesia lasting 1 day or less.

A key priority of the CENC is the development of diagnostics, including a broad range of biomarkers, and novel treatment and rehabilitative strategies to improve the long-term health and well-being of Service members and Veterans. The CENC coordinates research activities, including translational, preclinical and clinical studies, and the collection, storage, use, and analysis of data and anatomical specimens, with an emphasis on basic and preclinical studies to address issues regarding anatomic, molecular, and physiological disease mechanisms issues and a heavy emphasis on clinical studies to address issues regarding comorbidities issues.

The CENC provides critical information to benefit Service members and Veterans by enhancing diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation strategies.