Research themes and publications (Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Network)

The TBI Network has a number of current projects organised by theme. Each theme explores a different aspect of TBI, ranging from awareness and injury prevention to impact and outcomes, and knowledge translation.

You can also find a list of some of our recent research publications.

Current projects

There are a series of projects underway looking at the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards concussion in secondary school athletes, parents, coaches, referees, physiotherapists and GPs. This work covers specific sports such as rugby, cycling and equestrian activities. These studies will help us to determine what people already know about concussion and to identify areas where educational interventions need to focus on to address gaps in knowledge or change behaviour.

This is an area where more research is urgently needed. TBI is highly preventable. We need to look at how injuries occur and identify ways we can prevent injuries happening in the future. We are currently designing some projects to look specifically at injury prevention.

Contact us if you'd like to get involved in this work.

Identifying a brain injury or concussion is not as simple as it sounds. It is an ‘invisible’ injury and signs and symptoms often do not show up for a few hours or days later. Injuries can also be missed because the person has sustained multiple injuries that require urgent medical attention such as broken bones or internal bleeding.

There are a number of studies underway by members of the network looking at how we can assess whether a person has suffered a concussion during a game/match, looking at whether a person's balance has been affected, ways of finding out whether symptoms are directly related to the injury or influenced by another cause. We are also looking at whether we can determine if someone has had a brain injury through their saliva or by a blood test or objective measurement tool such as a mouthguard or sensor on a helmet.

With so many people affected by TBI or concussion in NZ we need to find out the best way to treat them to ensure that they recover as quickly as possible. We currently have little evidence about what the best treatment is. Services can differ a lot in the approaches that they use.

Our members are looking at a number of different treatments or interventions to help people with their recovery and improve longer term wellbeing. Approaches under investigation include reviewing medication use after injury, testing an early intervention to reduce symptoms as well as an intervention to help cope with symptoms in the longer term, having a peer mentor (being put in touch with someone who has been through a similar experience), the role of exercise and nutrition in recovery, as well as other novel treatments such as the use of near infra-red light frequencies, herbal remedies or omega 3.

We are investigating the effectiveness of treatments within different contexts such as in sports, concussion clinics, in the prison service and in the general community.

No two people present the same way, even if their injuries appear to be very similar. It is therefore important to understand whether there are any factors that may indicate who is more or less likely to have continued problems after an injury so that we can then intervene early.

Our researchers are currently looking at whether our genes, physical responses to injury, the way we think, the support we have and particular tests or scans can help identify people likely to need more support early. Our researchers are using both traditional mathematical approaches as well as computer generated models to identify potential early predictors of recovery. Differences by gender are also being explored.

We have only uncovered the tip of the iceberg in understanding the potential possible impacts of brain injury. Our researchers are looking at a wide range of possible impacts both in the long and short term.

Studies are currently looking at the long-term impacts of contact sports on people’s general health and wellbeing, how the brain functions after injury, whether there are any long term impacts on how we feel, how people think and interact with others and behave, the impact on children’s development and learning, whether an early brain injury is linked to later anti-social behaviour, risk of developing medical conditions, potential impacts on our sensory system (such as taste and smell), sleep patterns as well as things such as balance and risk of sustaining another brain injury.

We are also aware that the impact of brain injuries can extend well beyond the person themselves, and we are looking at understanding the impact on others to ensure they receive the support they need as well.

It can often take a long time for research to lead to changes in every day life. We aim to tackle this directly and have a more immediate impact. We are dedicated to finding new creative ways of making research more readily available. We believe that by working with service providers, patients and policymakers early in research that we can then deliver research that meets a need, is useful and makes a difference.

One example of this is a website that contains information and composite stories (made up from a collection of people’s true stories) about living life after a TBI to help people to understand what it is really like.


Browse some of our recent research publications.

  1. Snell Dl, Martin R, Macleod AD, Surgenor LJ, Siegert RJ……Hooper GJ, Anderson T. Untangling chronic pain and post-concussion symptoms: the significance of depression. 2018, Brain Injury 32 (5) 583-392
  2. Le Flao E, Brughelli M, Hume P.A. King D. Assessing Head/Neck Dynamic Response to Head Perturbation: A Systematic Review. Sports Medicine, 2018, 48(11):2641-2658.
  3. King D, Hume PA, Hardaker N,…Gissane C, Clark T. Sports related injuries in New Zealand: national Insurance (ACC) claims for five sporting codes from 2012-2016. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Article in press.
  4. King DA, Hume PA, Gissane C, Kieser DC, Clark TN. Head impact exposure from match participation in women’s rugby league over one season of domestic competition. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 2018  21(2) 139-146.
  5. King D, Hume PA, Hardaker N, Pearce AJ, Gissane C. Female rugby union injuries in New Zealand: A review of five years (2013-2017) of Accident Compensation Corporation moderate to severe claims and costs. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 2018, Article in Press.
  6. Theadom A, McDonald S, Starkey N, Barker-Collo S, Jones K, Ameratunga S, Wilson E, Feigin V, on behalf of the BIONIC4you Research Group. Social Cognition Four Years after mild-TBI: An Age-matched Cross-Sectional Study. Neuropsychology IF: 3.3
  7. Jones K, Barker-Collo S, Parmar P, Starkey N, Theadom A, Ameratunga S, Feigin VL, on behalf of the BIONIC study group. 'Trajectories in health recovery in the 12 months following a mild traumatic brain injury in children: findings from the BIONIC Study. Journal of Primary  Health Care.
  8. Shaikh NM, Kersten P, Siegert RJ, and TheadomA. Developing a comprehensive framework of community integration for people with acquired brain injury: A conceptual analysis. Disability and Rehabilitation. DOI:10.1080/09638288.2018.1443163.
  9. Starkey N, Jones K, Case R, Theadom A, Barker-Collo S, Feigin V. Post-concussive symptoms after a mild traumatic brain injury during childhood and adolescence. Brain Injury, 2018 32(5):617-626. DOI: 10.1080/02699052.2018.
  10. Theadom A, Barker-Collo S, Jones K, Parmar P, Bhattacharjee R, Feigin VL. MLC901 (NeuroAiD IITM) for cognition after traumatic brain injury: a pilot clinical trial. European Journal of Neurology, 2018 25(8):1055-e82. IF: 3.9.
  11. Medvedev O, Theadom A, Barker-Collo S, Feigin V on behalf of the BIONIC Research Group. Distinguishing between enduring and dynamic concussion symptoms: Applying Generalisability Theory to the Rivermead Post Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire. Peer J, 2018. 6:e5676
  12. Jones K, Starkey N, Theadom A, Gheorge A, Willix-Payne D, Prah P, Feigin VL on behalf of the BIONIC Study Group. Parent and child ratings of child behaviour following mild traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury, 2018 32(11):1397-1404.
  13. Kahan M, Jones KM, Balalla S, McPherson K, Stedman E, Feigin VL on behalf of the BIONIC Research Group. Return to Pre-Injury Work Following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Brain Injury, 2018; 19(2):153-165
  14. Theadom A, Barker-Collo S, Jones K, Dudley M, Vincent N, Feigin V. A pilot study of online interventions to improve sleep quality in adults after mild or moderate brain injury. Clinical Rehabilitation, 2018; 32(5): 619-629 DOI:10.1177/0269215517736671. IF: 2.8
  15. Theadom A, Starkey N, Barker-Collo S, Jones K, Ameratunga S, Feigin V, on behalf of the BIONIC4you Research Group. Population-based cohort study of the impacts of mild traumatic brain injury in adults four years post-injury. PlosOne, DOI:org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191655 IF: 2.9
  16. Sullivan K, Blaine H, Kaye SA, Theadom A, Haden C, Smith S. A systematic review of psychological interventions for sleep and fatigue after mild traumatic brain injury. J Neurotrauma, 2018 35(2):195-209. DOI:10.1089/neu.2016.4958 IF: 5.2.
  17. Kersten P, Cummins C, Kayes N, Babbage D, Elder H, Foster A, Weatherall M, Siegert RJ, Smith G, McPherson K. making sense of recovery after traumatic brain injury through a peer mentoring intervention: a qualitative exploration. BMJ Open, 20-18 8(10).e020672
  18. Sezier A, Mudge S, Kayes N,…Smith G, McPherson KM. devlopment of a toolkit to enhance care processes for people with a long-term neurological condition: A qualitative descriptove study. BMJ Open 8(6) e022038
  19. McPherson K, Fadyl J, Theadom A,… Starkey N,…Kayes N, Feigin VL, Barker-Collo S .... Living life after traumatic brain injury: phase 1 of a longitudinal qualitative study. Journal of Head Traumatic Rehabilitation 3391) E44-E52.
  20. Kahan, M., Jones, K. M., Balalla, S., McPherson, K., Stedman, E., & Feigin, V. L. (2018). Return to pre-injury work following mild traumatic brain injury. Brain Impairment, 19(2), 1-13. doi:10.1017/BrImp.2018.7.

Publications from other research groups

Our people

Find out who is involved with the TBI Network, including the directorate, associate investigators and our current students.

Our people

Contact us

Alice Theadom
Phone: 921 9999 x7805


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