Grant Rauterkus: Characterizing an Auditory Biomarker of Concussion

With funding from a Newcomb-Tulane College Dean’s Grant, I was able to travel to the
2018 American Academy of Audiology Conference at the Music City Center in Nashville, TN. During the conference, I interacted with students and professionals from around the country and shared work of which I have been a part at Tulane.

Along with collaborators, I presented a poster with the title, “Characterizing an Auditory Biomarker of Concussive and Sub-Concussive Trauma.” The poster displayed preliminary data from a study currently underway within Tulane’s athletic department. Around 70 athletes on the Tulane football team were screened with an electrophysiological measure before the 2017 season. The measure is a proxy for the ability of an individual to encode the fundamental frequency of complex sounds, like speech. When athletes were clinically diagnosed with concussions, the measure was taken again. The study’s preliminary findings are consistent with existing literature that suggests the integrity with which individuals are able to encode complex sounds is undermined during the acute phase of a concussion.

Tulane’s athletic department is an innovative one. The department has a strong focus on the total health of its student-athletes, both physical and mental. The innovative measure at the heart of this concussion study shows the potential to inform the characterization of certain manifestations of concussion. As such, the Dean’s Grant that supported this work helped to not only share the findings of our study, but also to highlight the ambitious research agenda within Tulane’s athletic department. The interdisciplinary team working on this project is comprised of doctors, graduate and undergraduate students, athletic trainers, and researchers. It has been incredibly exciting work, and we are grateful to NTC for its support.

Written by Grant Rauterkus, Dean’s Grant recipient, 2018