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Everyday Australians help deliver better treatment for concussions

Media release

A Curtin-led research team will develop a new range of online tools that will help predict life-changing consequences for the 200,000 everyday Australians who suffer mild traumatic brain injuries and concussions every year.

The project, led by Curtin’s Professor of Neurotrauma Melinda Fitzgerald, was made possible by Federal Government funding of almost $3 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) 2021.

Professor Fitzgerald said the national and multi-disciplinary research team would work with Australians who have a mild traumatic brain injury to identify what predicts best outcomes. The team will use the information to develop improved online resources to recommend better care pathways.

“Traumatic brain injury can occur from road traffic crashes, workplace accidents, during sports, and from violence. Each year in Australia, 190,000 to 200,000 cases of traumatic brain injury occur, of which about 180,000 are mild, including concussion,” Professor Fitzgerald said.

“Even mild cases can have long-lasting negative impacts on people, their families, and society. A person’s medical care is often hindered by poor predictions of those at risk of delayed recovery and the inconsistent use of effective treatment and care, so our program is seeking to address those potential risk factors.”

Professor Fitzgerald said the project would make the treatment of mild traumatic brain injury more consistent across Australia, and possibly the world.

Researchers will also work with a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to ensure the approach is personalised for Indigenous people, as well as those who live in rural and remote areas will also be included.

Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran congratulated the team on being awarded funding support from the Federal Government through the NHMRC.

“The consequences of not receiving the appropriate medical care after a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion can be life-changing, so this project recognises the importance of assisting people to take control of their own care,” Professor Moran said.

“On the other side, saving someone from a trip to hospital who does not require emergency care will also help to address our scarce healthcare resources, particularly in light of the pressures created by the COVID pandemic.”

The research team includes individuals with acute and rehabilitation clinical experience, online computer and mobile platform design, implementation science, machine learning, and research translation; from Curtin University, and partners including software company Curve Tomorrow, Monash University, Edith Cowan University, The Queensland Brain Institute, Griffith University, and brain injury organisation Synapse Australia Limited.

General practitioners, physiotherapists and other healthcare providers and patients themselves will be able to input data and consult resources.

The project is titled ‘AUS-mTBI: designing and implementing the health informatics approaches to enhance treatment and care for people with mild TBI’.