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Kennedy Krieger gets $2.5M grant to develop clinical tool to predict mental health concerns

Daily Record Staff//August 22, 2023

Kennedy Krieger gets $2.5M grant to develop clinical tool to predict mental health concerns

By Daily Record Staff

//August 22, 2023

Researchers at Kennedy Krieger Institute and UC Davis Health on Tuesday announced a $2.5 million grant from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and validate a clinical tool to predict mental health concerns in adolescents following a concussion or other traumatic brain injury.

During the five-year project, researchers will conduct an observational study in six emergency departments around the country, working with patients ages 11 to 17 who come to the emergency department for a mild traumatic brain injury. Each patient and parent will fill out questionnaires at the time of enrollment and then one to two weeks, one month and three months after that hospital visit.

Researchers are interested in any new or worsening anxiety and depression symptoms, said Beth Slomine, assistant vice president of psychology at Kennedy Krieger Institute and a co-principal investigator of the study. They also will measure unmet mental health care needs, such as patients not receiving any mental or behavioral health care despite new or worsening anxiety or depression.

Currently there is no validated prognostic tool to assess risk for ongoing or new mental health conditions in adolescents after a traumatic brain injury, including concussion. However, researchers and clinicians have seen increased evidence that concussed patients are at risk for depression and other mental health issues.

Prior studies demonstrate that up to 50% of adolescents who sustain a mild traumatic brain injury experience substantial mental health issues during their recoveries.

In addition, up to 78% of children with traumatic brain injuries who have new or worsening mental health concerns are not receiving appropriate mental health care. Racial, ethnic and economic inequities contribute to these health outcomes, and developing a standardized tool will help hospitals and clinics develop better guidelines and practice.

One in five teens in the U.S. report having been diagnosed with at least one concussion, according to research published by JAMA. Children who play sports are particularly at risk for concussion.

The six hospitals participating in the study are UC Davis Medical Center, Children’s Wisconsin, Texas Children’s Hospital, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. These six hospitals are part of the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN).

This work is in collaboration with senior collaborators Nathan Kuppermann, Bo Tomas Brofeldt Endowed Chair of Emergency Medicine at UC Davis Health, and Stacy Suskauer, director of the Brain Injury Clinical Research Center at Kennedy Krieger Institute and vice president of pediatric rehabilitation.


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