In an example of how many CHOP researchers’ work isn’t confined to the laboratory, Children’s Hospital Neuroscientist Akiva S. Cohen, PhD, recently traveled to Washington, DC to discuss concussion treatment strategies and to advocate for increased federal support for concussion research. A concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI) researcher, Dr. Cohen investigates brain injuries’ underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms.
According to the CDC, roughly 2 million TBIs occur every year in the U.S, and more than 500,000 TBIs are suffered by children aged 14 years and younger. While many reported TBIs are milder forms such as concussions, even “mild” brain injuries can lead to long-term health challenges, such as cognitive and emotional issues.
Recently, there has been increased scrutiny on the effect of concussions on athletes — and football players in particular — of all ages. In October of 2013, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council released an extensive report on sports-related concussions in children and teens that found helmets do not prevent concussions in youth athletes. The report, which was authored by a committee of experts, including the Center for Injury Research and Prevention’s Kristy Arbogast, PhD, also found that despite increased awareness of concussions, there remains a culture “that resists both the self-reporting of concussions and compliance with appropriate concussion management plans.”
While in Washington, DC, Dr. Cohen met with Philip Rubin, PhD, the Office of Science and Technology’s (OTSP) principal assistant director for Science and assistant director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences. Part of the executive branch administration, the OTSP was founded to “advise the President and others within the Executive Office of the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs,” according to the OTSP’s website.
In addition to discussing concussion treatment strategies — including Dr. Cohen’s investigation of using a cocktail of key amino acids to treat sleep issues following concussion — Drs. Cohen and Rubin also discussed the impact the BRAIN initiative might have on concussion and TBI research.
The NIH’s budget also came up, as the agency’s most recent appropriation was solidified in the $1.1 trillion spending bill President Obama signed into law January 17. The NIH’s appropriation of $29.9 billion in the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014” was lower than the $31.3 billion President Obama had requested, leading to calls for increased spending.
“I enjoyed the chance to travel to DC to meet with Dr. Rubin and the administration to discuss concussion and TBI care,” said Dr. Cohen. “As our understanding of the mechanisms of concussions improves, new avenues of research will continue to be opened. Robust, ongoing federal support for research is integral to advancing novel treatment strategies.”
To learn more concussions, and about The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s concussion care and research, see the Hospital’s webpage and the Center for Injury Research and Prevention. To learn more about Dr. Cohen’s research, see the CHOP Research blog.