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Concussion Recovery, Vaccine Education, Hirschsprung Disease, Philly Spin-In

Published on March 29, 2024 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 2 weeks 3 days ago


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Concussion Recovery, Vaccine Education, Hirschsprung Disease

Our news roundup this week highlights preliminary findings that could lead to quicker concussion recovery and a study that uses three-dimensional imaging to reveal new features of Hirschsprung disease. Researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and PolicyLab gathered for an informational seminar on the importance of vaccine policies for college campuses, and supporters of the annual Philly Spin-In helped raise over $1 million for Cardiac Center research. This and more are below.

Daniel J. Corwin
Daniel Corwin, MD, MSCE

Pilot Study Results Suggest Amino Acid Supplements Potential Option in Concussion Management

The first clinical trial of targeted pharmacologic therapeutic treatment for mild traumatic brain injury in pediatric patients revealed a specific formulation of branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements — leucine, isoleucine, and valine — that could help adolescents and young adults with concussions experience faster symptom reduction and return to physical activity when taken after injury.

“While a larger study is needed to confirm the formulation’s efficacy before routine use of BCAA supplementation should be recommended, we are extremely encouraged by these preliminary findings,” said Daniel Corwin, MD, MSCE, first study author and department lead of the Minds Matter Concussion Program at CHOP. “Our results demonstrate that our specific formulation of BCAA supplementation is a highly promising treatment that addresses the underlying mechanism driving concussion symptoms in order to accelerate recovery.”

The pilot study, published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, consisted of a double-blind, randomized control trial with patients between the ages of 12 and 30, divided into a placebo arm and 15g, 30g, 45g and 54g of treatment dosage arms. After analyzing data from 38 patients, researchers found that for every 500g of the treatment consumed, the total symptom score, on a scale of 0-54 (with 0 representing no symptoms), dropped 4 points. Study participants also tolerated the treatment well, and researchers reported no serious adverse events.

Learn more in this CHOP news release.

Charlotte Moser, MS

Charlotte Moser, MS

PolicyLab and Vaccine Education Center Discuss Ways to Increase Vaccine Rates on College Campuses

PolicyLab and CHOP’s Vaccine Education Center hosted a March 14 virtual seminar titled, “Improving Campus Health — Building on Research to Increase Vaccination Rates.” Experts in adolescent and young adult health, vaccines, and policy discussed the challenges college health administrators face when addressing vaccination rates, and how successful implementation of recommendations could increase the rate of vaccinations on college campuses.

“Vaccinations are an important consideration as higher education institutions seek to maintain the health of individuals and the community at large, especially given recent campus-based outbreaks of mumps, meningococcus, and COVID-19” said Charlotte Moser, MS, co-director of the Vaccine Education Center. “We envision less susceptible campuses in the future.”

Panelists included Kristen Feemster, MD, MPH, director of research for the Vaccine Education Center, and Samantha Ratner, head of the Student Vaccine Working Group on Ethics and Policy and clinical research assistant at Columbia University. Experts dug into the importance and current strategies for increasing vaccine rates on college campuses, and new ways for researchers, students, and health administrators to contribute to this initiative.

Visit PolicyLab to watch the full seminar.

Robert O. Heuckeroth
Robert Heuckeroth, MD, PhD

3D Imaging of ENS Reveals New Features of Hirschsprung Disease

Building off previous work that combines tissue clearing, immunohistochemistry, and confocal microscopy to develop a three-dimensional (3D) image of the enteric nervous system (ENS), Robert Heuckeroth, MD, PhD, research director of the Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Center for GI Motility, and his study team applied this method to study Hirschsprung disease, which is a congenital disease in which nerves are missing from parts of the large intestine.

Current treatment involves “pull-through” surgery to remove bowel that lacks ENS. The study demonstrated that tissue clearing and the 3D imaging method provided more reliable data on ENS structure than typical tissue sectioning. 3D imaging also revealed which lengths of the colon contained enteric neurons, which could provide further insight as to why some symptoms persist after surgery.

Learn more in the journal article that appeared in Gastroenterology.

Catherine C. McDonald
Catherine McDonald, PhD, RN

CHOP Nurse Scientist Appointed Department Chair at Penn Nursing

Affiliate research scientist Catherine McDonald, PhD, RN, in CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention has been appointed the new chair of the Department of Family and Community Health in Penn Nursing.

Dr. McDonald is specifically interested in injury science and seeks to identify factors that contribute to morbidity and mortality, especially when related to adolescent driving behaviors and concussions. She has published more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles on injury prevention associated with driving behaviors and motor vehicle crashes, among many other topics. In collaboration with the Minds Matter Concussion Program at CHOP, Dr. McDonald also studies school health and the implications of returning to driving after experiencing concussion.

Dr. McDonald serves as the nursing discipline director for the CHOP Leadership Education in Adolescent Health Program, which provides interdisciplinary leadership training to prepare health professionals for leadership roles in public health, clinical care, research, training, and advocacy. In her new position, she will continue to emphasize the role nurses play in reducing injury and supporting community health.

Her appointment will begin July 1, 2024. Congratulations to Dr. McDonald!

Jonathan Chen, MD

Jonathan Chen, MD

Philly Spin-In Generates Over $1 Million in Donations for Cardiac Center Research

During this year’s annual Philly Spin-In, more than 200 teams rode to raise more than $1 million in funding for CHOP’s Cardiac Center, one of the world’s largest and most accomplished pediatric heart centers offering care to children with acquired and congenital heart conditions.

“The Philly Spin-In not only gives the Cardiac Center inspiration to continue our pursuit of clinical excellence, the funding it generates allows us, through the Innovation Awards, to push new boundaries of research and patient care initiatives that help define the future,” said Co-director of the Cardiac Center, Jonathan Chen, MD.

Each year, the Cardiac Center invites clinicians, scientists, psychologists and other team members to propose Innovation Award projects that will advance research and patient care in the Cardiac Center. Current projects funded by the Philly Spin-In include cutting-edge research on new treatments for pulmonary hypertension, an electromagnetic robotic system to improve Fontan circulation, and a wireless remote monitoring program to observe cardiac patients with implantable electronic devices.

In addition to potential treatments, funding also supports quality-of-life care, including a lifestyle medicine program that integrates holistic health and wellness into pediatric cardiology patient care, specialized communication and simulation training for clinicians, and a comprehensive social support program that provides education and opportunities for connection between cardiac families.

Learn more about the impact of the Philly Spin-In in this news brief.


Catch up on our headlines from our March 15 In The News:

  • Legacy of Discovery: CHOP Announces New Frontier Programs
  • 'Good Morning America' Features CHOP Leaders in Gene Therapy Segment
  • Novel Sequencing Technology Among Top 25 Nature Communication Papers
  • Defining the Origins of Hematopoietic Failure in Fanconi Anemia
  • Pre-Existing Mental Health Diagnoses May Prolong Concussion Recovery

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