Concussion Program Research


Summer Ott, Psy.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Director of the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute Concussion Program. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Sports Concussion Program, Dr. Ott moved to the greater Houston area where she has successfully developed three concussion programs that focus on an interdisciplinary approach to athlete care and management. She was a key member of the task force that developed verbiage for a sports concussion bill in Texas known as Natasha’s Law. Signed into law in June 2012, the bill established return-to-play guidelines for school-aged athletes with concussions.

Currently, Dr. Ott serves as the neuropsychological consultant for most Houston professional sports teams, including the Houston Texans, Dash, Dynamo, and Rockets, and for teams from numerous universities and school districts throughout Texas. In addition to clinical practice, Dr. Ott is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and she frequently conducts presentations regarding identification and management of concussive injury.

To date, Dr. Ott’s research has involved the assessment of 1) pre- and post-concussive neurocognitive performance, 2) the validity and reliability of neurocognitive assessment tools, and 3) the factors that shape concussion reporting behaviors of high school student-athletes. Currently, she is the PI of a grant-funded study that examines whether post-acute emotional distress and/or hypothalamic hormone levels in concussed female athletes are associated with delayed recovery. Previously, Dr. Ott served as Co-PI of a NIH-funded pilot study that investigated clinical features, neuroimaging, and biomarkers in adolescents cleared for return to play within one-month post-concussion. She has co‐authored publications on neuropsychological assessment and sports-related concussion and is an ad hoc reviewer for scientific journals, including The American Journal of Sports Medicine, Journal of Athletic Training, and Applied Neuropsychology-Child.

Dr. Ott is a founding member of the Sports Neuropsychological Society (SNS), currently serves on the executive board and multiple committees for the organization, and was Co-Chair for the 2nd Annual Sports Neuropsychology Society Concussion Symposium held in Dallas, Texas. Aside from her contributions to SNS, Dr. Ott was appointed to the medical advisory committee for USA Cheer.

Concussion Program Research Team 

Concussion Program

With the increased incidence of concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries, researchers in our Concussion Program strive to improve patient outcomes for these injuries.
In collaboration with biomedical, neuroimaging, and fellow concussion experts, our researchers are leading innovative efforts to identify clinical, physiological, and demographic factors associated with the short- and long-term effects of single and repetitive sport-related concussions. The aim is to examine how these factors contribute to disparities in recovery and how they can be targeted to alleviate acute post-concussion symptoms and minimize the likelihood of persistent ones. Other ongoing research is focused on identifying the unmet educational and emotional needs of patients and their families, with the ultimate goal of addressing these needs to improve knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding concussions and concussion-related disorders.
Through this multidisciplinary approach, our Concussion Program researchers are advancing how sport-related concussions are reported, diagnosed, treated, and managed.

Current Grant Support

“Factors that Affect Concussion Education and Attitudes of Student-Athletes and Their Parents”
P.I.: Summer Ott, M.D.
President’s Academic Excellence Zilkha Distinguished Chair fund
$10,000 2021-present

“Assessing the Effects of Wearable transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) Technology on Clinical Recovery from Sports-Related Concussion in Adolescents”
P.I.: Summer Ott, M.D.
Crowdfunding/Gift Account
$15,000 2021-present

“Evaluation of a Steady State Visual Evoked Potentials (SSVEP) in mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI)”
P.I.: Summer Ott, M.D.
Nurochek- Headsafe
$121,440 2021-present

Current Studies

“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.

“Evaluation of a Steady State Visual Evoked Potentials (SSVEP) in mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI)”
The goal of this project is to evaluate a new biomedical device, Nurochek, as a potential diagnostic aid for concussion. The primary research project compares data between Nurochek and Sport Concussion Assessment Tool Edition 5 (SCAT5) from groups at risk of sustaining a concussion.

“Hypothalamic Hormone Levels in Female Adolescent Athletes Following Sport-Related Concussion”
The goal of this project is to evaluate whether post-acute emotional distress and/or hypothalamic hormone levels in female concussed athletes are associated with chronic post concussive symptoms and delayed recovery.

“Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy – Related Knowledge, Attitudes, and Educational Support of the Wives of Former Collegiate, Semi-professional, and Professional Players”
The goal of this study is to examine the educational and emotional support provided to the wives of former players with respect to CTE. Results of our study will help healthcare providers and organizations develop more effective health-related educational programs.

Recent publications

  1. Newome, M., Li, X., Wilde, E., Ott, S. Biekman, B., Hunger, J., Dash, P., Taylor, B., & Levin, H. Functional connectivity is altered in concussed adolescents despite medical clearance to return to play: A preliminary report. Frontiers in Neurology, (7), 1-9, 2017.
  2. Gunter, K.B., Shields, C.J., Ott, S.D., & Coronado, R.A. Rehabilitation of an adolescent equestrian athlete with a history of multiple concussions: a case report describing an adapted return to sport protocol. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 48(12), 934-942,
  3. Aggarwal, S.S., Ott, S.D., Padhye, N.S.Meininger, J.C., & Armstrong, T.S. Clinical and demographic predictors of concussion resolution in adolescents: A retrospective study. Applied Neuropsychology, Child, 8(1), 50-60, 2019.
  4. 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. Persistent Disruption of Brain Connectivity after Sports-Related Concussion in a Female Athlete. Journal of neurotrauma, 36(22), 3164–3171, 2019.
  5. 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, 2020.
  6. Aggarwal, S. S., Ott, S. D., Padhye, N. S., & Schulz, P. E. Sex, race, ADHD, and prior concussions as predictors of concussion recovery in adolescents. Brain injury, 34(6), 809–817, 2020.
  7. Mohler, S., Elbin, J., Ott, S., Butts, C., McDermott, B., & Ganio, M. How long after maximal exertion should baseline computerized neurocognitive testing and symptom assessment be administered? Brain Injury, 35(2), 241-247, 2021.
  8. Ott, S. Gonzalez, L., Redell, J., Duran, J., Schatz, P., & Becker, E. Post-Concussive changes in menstrual cycle self-report versus blood plasma concentrations. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 36(4), 662, 2021.

Recent interview on Nurochek study: