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UNC, West Point to study changing concussion culture

Johna Register-Mihalik (Photo by Kevin Seifert Photography)
Johna Register-Mihalik (Photo by Kevin Seifert Photography)

UNC researchers have received a $400,000 award to partner with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to study changing the culture of concussion disclosure among military personnel and college athletes. They will develop an online interactive platform that provides a series of immersive training vignettes for those populations.

UNC was among eight winners of the inaugural Mind Matters Challenge, sponsored by the NCAA and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Johna Register-Mihalik, assistant professor of exercise and sport science in the College of Arts and Sciences and a faculty member of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center, is co-principal investigator on the project.

“While we work hard to prevent concussions, not every concussion will be prevented,” Register-Mihalik said. “We are proposing an innovative strategy aimed at targeting organizational norms and individual beliefs to help improve concussion disclosure.”

This is important because many concussions go unreported in young and physically active populations, she added.

The project will target incoming service academy cadets and NCAA student-athletes at West Point and UNC. It will focus on:

  • Building a large database of key drivers of concussion disclosure. What makes people tell or not tell someone about a potential concussion?
  • Developing an interactive and immersive online platform using gaming technologies aimed at changing attitudes, behaviors and norms to improve concussion disclosure.
  • Forming a network of access to make this Web-based training tool freely available to NCAA colleges and military installations.
  • Creating a research infrastructure to study how this approach works to change cultural norms, attitudes and behaviors around concussion disclosure.

Read more about the study.

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