Head injury researchers win BMA grant

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Dr Michael Grey (centre) and Mr Tony Belli (right) receive the Joan Dawkins grant from Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran at the BMA Grant Awards.

SRMRC neurotrauma researchers Mr Tony Belli and Dr Michael Grey have received a grant from the British Medical Association for their RECOS trial looking at the cumulative effects of repetitive head injuries.

Mr Belli and Dr Grey received the Joan Dawkins grant for research into repetitive head injury in sport during a black-tie event at BMA House on November 12.

Previous research has found that concussion causes a transient alteration of brain metabolism, which is associated with neuronal dysfunction and is detectable by a special brain MRI scan: an MR spectroscopy (MRS).

This is particularly evident in repetitive head trauma and may correlate with the risk of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The RECOS study uses an MRS to investigate sports concussion with the aim to reduce the risk of Second Impact Syndrome, a potentially catastrophic neurological event seen when repeated head trauma occurs before the brain has fully recovered.

Additionally, the study will include Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), which measure the cortical connections after brain injury.

If successful, TMS could be applied in sports clinics as an alternative to MRS to monitor brain recovery, guiding the timing for safe return to play.

Both Mr Belli and Dr Grey appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss the research in the aftermath of the recent controversy when Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was allowed to finish playing a Premier League match against Everton despite being knocked unconscious briefly.

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