Concussion Research

Concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries, have received tremendous attention recently. Increased reports of persistent post-concussion symptoms and long-term cognitive and neurobehavioral consequences have contributed to growing public health concerns. Regardless of severity, post-concussion symptoms can lead to increased absence from school and work, impaired cognitive performance, and poor quality of life, all of which can be burdens for concussed individuals and their families. Researchers in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery Concussion Program at UTHealth are striving to improve patient outcomes by advancing how sports-related concussions are reported, diagnosed, treated, and managed.

In collaboration with biomedical and neuroimaging experts, our team is leading efforts to identify clinical, biochemical, and structural features that are associated with the short- and long-term effects of single and repetitive sports-related concussions. Current studies examine the role of these features in various aspects of concussion, including gender differences in recovery and whether these critical factors can be used by healthcare providers to identify patients who may be at risk of delayed recovery. Furthermore, our researchers are evaluating innovative, wearable technology that can be used immediately after a concussion to provide relief from acute symptoms and minimize the likelihood of persistent ones developing. To improve patient outcomes further, the Concussion Program has ongoing studies that examine the unmet educational and emotional needs of patients and their families, with the goal of addressing these needs to improve knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding concussions and concussion-related disorders. Through our efforts, researchers in the Concussion Program are dedicated to translating our findings into real-life applications that will enable patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers to make informed decisions that lead to better prognoses for concussive injuries.

For additional information regarding any of our studies, please contact Research Associate, Sukhnandan (Tanya) Cheema, MPH at 713-486-3435


“Effects of Photobiomodulation on Clinical Recovery from Concussion in Adolescents”
This randomized, clinical trial study will corroborate the efficacy of subacute photobiomodulation therapy (PBMt) for one month in improving psychological and cognitive efficacy and functional and structural connectivity of the brain. Our working hypothesis is that PBMt improves these outcomes compared to controls and is more efficacious when provided shortly after the concussion. Our approach includes randomizing subjects into two cohorts (i.e., immediate treatment and controls), and assessing these outcomes at the subacute phase (i.e., 3-7 days post-injury) and one month after PBMt, using standardized psychological/cognitive outcomes and state-of-art neuroimaging magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequences at these time points.

“Validity of Gait Disorientation Test in Adults with Concussion”
The purpose of this medical student (Kennedy Powell) designed study is to determine if the Gait Disorientation Test (GDT) is a valid screening method for diagnosing adults with concussion. Participants will be asked to complete demographics, the GDT, the functional gait assessment (FGA), and a dizziness & balance questionnaire.

“Comparison of SWAY Sports+ Assessments”
The goal of this cross-sectional study is to explore the differences in symptomatic presentation and functional outcomes in the type of administration (i.e. Sway Medical Sports+ Screening versus Sports Single Screening) on initial baseline test results. The data obtained from this study may also be used to drive future changes in concussion management and return-to-sport guidelines.

“Database for the Concussion-Related Factors and Outcomes of Dr. Summer Ott’s Patients at McGovern Medical School”
The purpose of this protocol is to establish a database for patient information that is pertinent to concussion diagnosis, management, and recovery. It will consist of data collected from concussed patients during standard of care visits with Dr. Summer Ott. The database will also include information regarding performance on concussion-related assessments and return to daily activities. The wealth of information in this database will serve as a resource aimed at improving patient outcomes for concussion.

“Factors that Affect Concussion Education and Attitudes of Student-Athletes and Their Parents”
The goal of this project is to collect information that will help identify factors that must be addressed in developing an effective educational intervention that will enhance: 1) reporting of suspected concussion by student-athletes and 2) compliance with proper concussion management and treatment.

“Factors that Affect Performance on Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) in English- or Spanish-Speaking Adolescents”
The purpose of this retrospective study is to examine how demographic variables affect ImPACT performance, reliability, and validity for adolescent, Spanish-speaking test takers. Furthermore, we will assess whether these effects translate in a post-concussion setting by comparing baseline and post-injury parameters when available.


  1. Ott, S., Redell, J., Cheema, S., Schatz, P., & Becker, E. (2024). Progesterone Levels in Adolescent Female Athletes May Contribute to Decreased Cognitive Performance During Acute Phase of Sports-Related Concussion. Developmental neuropsychology, 1–12. Advance online publication.
  2. Ott, S. D., Cheema, S. K., Ryder, A., Schatz, P., Gonzalez, L. A., Duran, J., & Schulz, P. E. (2022). Information seeking behaviors and attitudes of wives of former football players regarding chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Applied neuropsychology. Adult, 1–8. Advance online publication.
  3. Ott, S. Gonzalez, L., Redell, J., Duran, J., Schatz, P., & Becker, E. (2021). A-22 Post-Concussive Changes in Menstrual Cycle Reporting: Comparing Self-Report Versus Blood Plasma Concentrations. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 36(4), 662.
  4. Mohler, S., Elbin, J., Ott, S., Butts, C., McDermott, B., & Ganio, M. (2021). How long after maximal exertion should baseline computerized neurocognitive testing and symptom assessment be administered? Brain Injury, 35(2), 241-247.
  5. Aggarwal, S. S., Ott, S. D., Padhye, N. S., & Schulz, P. E. (2020). Sex, race, ADHD, and prior concussions as predictors of concussion recovery in adolescents. Brain injury34(6), 809–817.
  6. Ott, S., Gonzalez, L., Ikonomou, V., & Schatz, P. (2020). A-29 Incidence of Invalid ImPACT Baseline Test Results on Initial and Follow-up Assessments among English-Speaking, Spanish-Speaking, and Bilingual Test-takers. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 35(5), 625-625.
  7. Wilde, E. A., Newsome, M. R., Ott, S. D., Hunter, J. V., Dash, P., Redell, J., Spruiell, M., Diaz, M., Chu, Z. D., Goodrich-Hunsaker, N., Petrie, J., Li, R., & Levin, H. (2019). Persistent Disruption of Brain Connectivity after Sports-Related Concussion in a Female Athlete. Journal of neurotrauma36(22), 3164–3171.