Snowden-Richardson to use Brain Canada Rising Stars Trainee Award for dementia-related concussion research

More than one hundred thousand Canadians are diagnosed with concussion each year. Alternatively known as mild traumatic brain injury, immediate symptoms of this condition include headache, dizziness, and memory loss. However, there is growing concern that concussion could also lead to dementia and other longer-lasting deficits in the ageing brain. Recent studies show that individuals who have sustained at least one diagnosed concussion are nearly two times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than someone without a concussion history.

Taylor Snowden_RichardsonPhD student Taylor Snowden-Richardson (pictured; Christie Lab) has received a $10,000 Brain Canada Rising Stars Trainee Award to support her research on the relationship between concussion and dementia. Her award-funded project, titled “Brain Gain,” aims to identify potential dementia-related markers and early intervention strategies for adults with histories of concussion.

The Brain Canada Rising Stars Trainee Awards recognize and support graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and residents who conduct excellent research in all fields spanning neuroscience at Canadian institutions. Taylor was one of 11 trainees to receive four grants from the organization. She received the Dr. Matthew Galati Brain Changer Award, which provides financial support to individuals conducting clinical implementation research in the field of acquired brain injury. 

While there is no cure for dementia, identifying early indicators of the disease is a crucial step in managing it. One of the early identifiers of dementia is increased levels of brain-related proteins in the blood and saliva, and in this study, Taylor and her fellow researchers aim to identify these potential dementia-related biomarkers in individuals who have a history of concussion.

The study will also explore the effectiveness of cognitive and exercise-based treatments as early intervention strategies for this same group. These interventions will include aerobic walking and using the NeuroTracker, a brain-training tool that resembles a video game.

Taylor and fellow researchers in the UVic Concussion and Gawryluk Labs are currently recruiting study participants for Brain Gain. If you are aged 50 or older, have experienced at least one concussion, and are interested in helping with this project, email with the subject line “History of Concussion Study.”