HOUSTON (April 23, 2015)

Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute Sports Concussion Program Director Summer Ott, PsyD, will lead a study focused on the consequences of sport-related concussions on female adolescent athletes. The study recently secured funding with a $60,000 grant from the Moody Endowmentin Galveston, Texas.

The goal of the two-year pilot study is to determine whether the duration of concussion symptoms in female adolescent athletes is related to the reporting of emotional distress shortly after a sports-related concussion is suffered. Dr. Ott will conduct the study with researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), and the UT Medical Branch and Transitional Learning Centerin Galveston.

“The affects of concussions in female adolescent athletes have been largely understudied and thus, not understood,” Dr. Ott said. “We are hoping to change that. We observe many female adolescent athletes who experience lingering post-concussive symptoms and delayed return to play following a single concussion.”

While these symptoms have been clinically observed, there is a relatively small amount of data compiled on sports-related concussions in female adolescent athletes, according to Dr. Ott.

“The majority of recent research on sport-related concussions in school-aged athletes has focused on male participants,” Dr. Ott said. “A great amount of media attention on sports-related concussions has been devoted to elite athletes but the greatest impact of the injury may occur in younger athletes who can be at greater risk for a lengthy recovery and long-term neurological and neurocognitive problems.”

Athletes ages 13 to 16 years old take longer to recover from a concussion than those who are 18 to 22 years old, according to the Youth Sports Safety Alliance.

Dr. Ott, a neuropsychologist who is also an assistant professor in the UTHealth Medical School Department of Orthopedics, has co-authored publications on neuropsychological assessment in scholarly journals and frequently conducts presentations regarding proper concussion management. Her current research interests include gender differences in recovery from sports concussion and proper baseline testing of athletes.

Dr. Ott was a catalyst behind Texas Senate Bill 2038, also known as Natasha’s Bill, which established proper management and return-to-play guidelines in Texas for school-aged athletes who have sustained a concussion. She is also sharing the lead with researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and UTHealth on a study funded by the National Football League and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke that is focused on how to determine if complete recovery has occurred in high school-age athletes who have suffered a concussion.