A recent study conducted by researchers from Akron Children’s, Cincinnati Children’s, University of Michigan, and Dayton Children’s Hospital has unveiled a promising breakthrough in teen concussion treatment. Published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, the study demonstrates the effectiveness of hypothermic therapy in reducing symptom severity after mild brain injury.

Reducing Symptom Severity with Hypothermic Therapy

The study involved providing selective surface cooling to specific areas in the head and neck following concussion. Initial treatment with pro2cool’s hypothermic therapy led to a 14% reduction in Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT5) symptom scores. After a second treatment using the pro2cool system, SCAT5 scores decreased by 25% compared to those receiving standard concussion care.

Further Reading: Device Could Improve Kids’ Concussion Recovery

Study Design and Participants

Participants aged 12-19, who had sustained a concussion within eight days of study enrollment, were divided into two groups. One group received standard rest-based care, while the other underwent two treatments with the pro2cool system. Evaluations were conducted at multiple time points, with the second round of treatment occurring at 72 hours post-initial treatment.

Significance of the Study

This study marks the first and largest single concussion therapy trial in this population, shedding light on a novel approach to concussion treatment. Dr Joseph Congeni, lead study investigator, emphasizes the potential of hypothermic therapy to enhance concussion care beyond traditional rest-based approaches.

Addressing the Challenges of Adolescent Concussions

Adolescent concussions pose a significant challenge, with symptoms often persisting longer than in adults. While rest has been the cornerstone of concussion treatment, hypothermic therapy offers a promising adjunctive approach to symptom management.

Implications for Clinical Practice

The study suggests that adolescents with concussions may benefit from multiple treatments with the pro2cool system to alleviate symptom severity. Furthermore, the therapy was well-tolerated, indicating a positive safety profile.

Future Directions and Research Opportunities

Dr Matthew Smith highlights the need for further exploration to optimize the clinical benefits of hypothermic therapy. Questions regarding timing, frequency, and duration of treatment, as well as the underlying biological mechanisms, warrant investigation to tailor treatment protocols for individual patients.

Conclusion: Toward Personalized Concussion Care

While the study marks a significant milestone in concussion treatment, there is still much to uncover about the potential of hypothermic therapy. As research progresses and technology evolves, personalized treatment approaches may hold the key to enhancing recovery outcomes for adolescents with concussions.

TecTraum Inc., the makers of the smart technology pro2cool, supplied the device used in the study, which is currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Citation: Smith, Matthew A. MS, PhD, McNinch, Neil L. MS, RN, PSTAT, et al. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine Epub ahead of print January 5, 2024 DOI: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000001198

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