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New rear Access Helmet for Safer Post-accident Removal

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   August 31, 2011 22:07

voztec rear access helmet

Basic helmet design has come a long way since... wait, no it hasn't. Sure, Snell ratings and DOT approved helmets change every few years as our understanding of head trauma increases, but the basic skull bucket remains pretty much the same as it has for decades.

Voztec is looking to add a bit of innovation into the industry, and it's rear access system looks quite interesting. By way of a rear access door, the rider/driver puts their head into the lid and the door clamps shut behind them. In case of an emergency, the helmet can be lifted away from the person's face without having to move the injured person and risk further injury.

Voztec is working on rear access helmets for motorsports, horseback riding, snow sports, firefighters and the military. It's even penned a concept design for an NFL version of the rear access helmet.

This helmet is the fifth prototype that Voztec has developed, and it's now currently undergoing testing by a third party. Also, Voztec is looking for investors to help bring its rear access helmet to market, and we hope someone ponies up the dough because we'd love to get a closer look at this unique concept.


Source and to See a Video click here



Saskatoon Blades get a New Helmet to Measure hits

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   August 29, 2011 20:21

A small sensor on the back of Tommy Stipancik’s helmet won’t stop him from getting another concussion, but his team might get an early warning if a big blow rattles his head.

Stipancik, a Saskatoon Blades’ defenceman, is one of three team members wearing a cranium-impact analyzer during pre-season games and practices. The device — developed by a Saskatoon’s Rod Newlove — carries extra meaning for Stipancik, who is symptom-free after missing a year of hockey because of post-concussion issues.

“It was tough, the whole not-playing part,” Stipancik, 16, said following a Thursday practice at Martensville Arena. “But I wouldn’t do it any other way. It’s good I took the precaution and good I didn’t mess around with it. It’s my head. It’s got to last my whole life.”

The device — called a Safebrain — measures and logs G-force hits over a pre-determined level, providing early warning if a player takes a shot that could cause a concussion. A flashing LED alerts Blades’ trainer Steve Hildebrand, and the hit is also logged wirelessly into a laptop computer.

Trainers and doctors can tell when the player got hit, how much force there was, and even which way it jars his head.

“We don’t have the perfect answer for concussions, and if someone does, please let me know,” Hildebrand says. “But it’s a work in progress, and we’re just hoping this is another tool to help us.”

Newlove approached the Blades about testing the device. After getting approval from the Western Hockey League, they agreed to afix the chip to helmets belonging to Stipancik, Connor Cox and Chris Collins.

The three players will wear the chip during pre-season practices and games. Newlove says his device is also being used by a couple of minor-hockey teams in Edmonton as well as a midget girls’ squad in Saskatoon.

Newlove, a technician by trade, developed the idea a few years ago. He’s working with Dr. Martin Mrazik, an Edmonton clinical neuropsycholgist who for years has studied concussions and G-force impacts.

“Kids are trying to make the cut. A lot of times they’ll take a hit to the head and intentionally shake it off, even if they’re not feeling well,” Newlove said. “Things get buried that way. Part of the idea is for the coaching staff on the bench to be notified that this person actually took a fairly severe impact to the head.”

The system has gone through a dozen redesigns, with the current one “the final beta version,” Newlove says. The next one will be released for sale at a cost of $2,995 for 22 devices, a laptop and carrying case, plus $499 per year for a service plan.

Hildebrand says one change he’d like to see is the quarter-sized chip placed on the inside of the helmet rather than the outside. Newlove says burying a chip under the foam could negatively impact a helmet’s CSA rating, though he notes that some helmet models do have a recess in the foam that could aid that transition.

Meanwhile, Hildebrand said he’s both curious and excited to see the device in action as the Blades go through their pre-season. What kind of forces would it record during a fight where the helmets stay on, for example? And what will happen when a player really does take a hard shot with enough G-force to activate the LED lights?

“We did some tests,” Hildebrand says. “We threw the helmet to see the impact, and it went off way above G-force because we hucked it pretty good. I’m really curious to see, in many situations, how it’s going to be.

“It can become another tool — we go ‘hey, doc, this is when he got hit, this is the G-force, and we’re leaning towards this.’ Our thoughts are if you’re above the average, you’re probably more than likely going to be closer to concussion.”

Pittsburgh Penguins’ star forward Sidney Crosby has become the poster-boy for hockey concussions because of his high-profile battle with the issue dating back to last season. Lined up behind him are many players like Stipancik, whose concussion woes appear to have been an accumulation of hits at the under-16 and midget levels that finally prompted doctors to tell him he needed to take a year off hockey.

He fought headaches and nausea, and even suffered through anxiety that he suspects was tied to the concussion. The Blades kept Stipancik, a Vancouver native, in Saskatoon last season even though he wasn’t able to play through most of the campaign. He practised with the team, and ended up playing 12 regular-season contests near the end of the schedule.

Concussions are on everybody’s radar right now, including the WHL’s. They agreed this past off-season to follow the NHL’s lead by going to soft caps — that is, more foam — in shoulder and elbow pads.

“Obviously with Tommy, we’re very sensitive about it,” Hildebrand said.

“This is about understanding concussions. I don’t think we’re ever going to get to the point where we can prevent them fully. We’re doing everything possible as far as the new shoulder pads and elbow pads, and obviously mouth guards have been around for a while. We’re doing everything possible to try and prevent them, but I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point where we fully prevent them.”

Stipancik realizes that — but he says he’s also glad to see the new awareness about concussions in hockey.

“It’s your head. You can’t mess around it,” Stipancik said.




Concussion Specialist on Guidelines for High School Sports

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   August 26, 2011 21:56

DECATUR, Ill. • Dr. Wendell Becton believes there's no such thing as a mild concussion.

Becton, a sports medicine physician, says all concussions have the potential to be severe and result in long-term consequences.

Sports-related head injuries have gotten a lot of attention lately with Pittsburgh Penguins' captain Sidney Crosby's ongoing absence from the ice after a concussion in January. There was also the suicide of Dave Duerson, a safety with the 1985 Chicago Bears, and speculation that his death may have been spurred by brain damage he suffered while playing football.

On top of that is state legislation proposed to protect student athletes.

Becton, who has treated concussions in athletes ranging from children to MajorLeague Baseball players, says he supports a bill recently passed in the Illinois House. It would require school boards to work with the Illinois High School Association to institute concussion education programs for parents, players and coaches and set up guidelines to ensure that students who suffer concussions are evaluated properly and recover fully before returning to activity.

The majority of concussions heal completely, but that healing takes time, especially in young people, Becton said. The top thing that can be done for a patient with a concussion is ensuring complete rest.

"It's tough to watch your team," said Rylan Brassington, 14, of Mount Zion of the time he spent sitting out from hockey after getting a concussion in mid-December.

Rylan was checked from behind during a game in St. Louis.

"I got, like, crushed," he said.

"The key to concussions is early diagnosis," Becton said. "If you run right back to your sport or a lot of physical activity or your normal life, like schoolwork and stuff, that's like a big second stress on the brain."

Returning to activity too early or receiving another blow to the head can trigger post-concussion syndrome, a condition marked by concussion symptoms lasting longer than three weeks, he explained.

Education is an important task, said Becton, adding that he sometimes feels backlash from athletes and parents who want the youngsters to return to their sports before it is safe to do so. He said he tried to explain that a few moments of glory on the field were not worth a potentially permanent brain deficit.

"It's quite a butting of heads in battle sometimes to explain the importance to the parents and the players of why they don't need to go back to contact and get a second hit while their brain is still recovering from a concussion," Becton said. "... You don't waver or compromise on the recovery."

"Concussions occur very commonly from hits that are unseen," Becton said.

Rylan's mother, Shelley Brassington, said she didn't immediately recognize the symptoms of a concussion in her son, who went to school and took a test after his weekend injury. When he kept complaining of a headache, she thought he might be coming down with an illness.

She sought care for her son from Becton, who assessed Rylan with the ImPACT test, a computerized test for determining when it is safe for an athlete to return to play after a concussion. The assessment measures such criteria as attention span, working memory, nonverbal problem solving and reaction time.

(Becton offers baseline evaluations for student athletes, so a record of their pre-injury cognitive function can be kept on file.)

Rylan safely returned to hockey after sitting out about five weeks.

Becton said that in the case of a concussion, it was important to determine how the injury happened and how the patient felt immediately afterward.

"We talk about the circumstances of the injury," Becton said, citing loss of consciousness, memory of the incident, dizziness, balance problems, headache, visual problems, nausea, nervousness and numbness or tingling as important factors.



Making the NHL take Concussion More Seriously

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   August 26, 2011 21:54

No one ever accused the National Hockey League of being proactive. A week or so ago, the league got much pre-season attention when it held a camp in Toronto to evaluate a few possible tweaks to the rules - making nets shallower, adding a green line inside the net (to make it easier to judge when a puck is all the way in), a proposal to make penalized players serve the entire penalty, even if their team is scored upon while short-handed.

Fiddles, all. The annual debate about what rules to tweak and how to make Americans care about the game is a great diversion from the woozy, battered elephant in the room, one the NHL would rather keep on ignoring. The league (along with some other major sports leagues) has a serious problem with its players sustaining unacceptable brain injuries. Case in point: The best hockey player out there - Nova Scotia's Sidney Crosby - hasn't actually suited up for a match since last January, and looks unlikely to do so for some time yet.

Why? Mr. Crosby's head hurts. It's been hurting since he sustained two bodychecks to his head last season. After the first hit, sustained on New Year's Day during the NHL's outdoor "Winter Classic" game, Mr. Crosby continued playing. Four days later, he was hit in the head again, and began showing symptoms of a serious concussion. Despite plenty of rest and the best specialists a fat sports medicine budget can buy, the symptoms keep returning. His agent said this week there's no guarantee he'll be able to attend training camp.

And yet the NHL still refuses to take this issue seriously, preferring instead to safeguard "the integrity of the game." It's introduced some superficial changes, of course, as both the public and players demanded: No blind-side hits to the head. Shaken-up players have to cool off for 15 minutes before they can return to the ice. Trainers can't just ask them to count the fingers before sending them back over the boards. Such are the policies that the league seemingly believes are sufficient to protect its star players from potentially career-ending injuries.

The league has statistics it says prove its point. Most of the injuries that result in players missing games, according to the NHL, are either accidental or result from a legal hit. When it's suggested that all hits to the head should be illegal, even if they are accidental or occurred during what would otherwise have been a clean bodycheck, much outrage in the league's offices and among hockey puritans ensues. Anyone who dare suggest such a step is accused of disrespecting Canada's national game or wanting to turn hockey players into "wusses." The NHL has convinced itself that people like hockey because hockey is a tough, hard-hitting sport. Anything that would reduce that impression, by the league's logic, would threaten the popularity of the sport.

But that's not the case. Fans like heroes they can cheer for, and Mr. Crosby - a young, personable, clean-cut role model among a plethora of less enviable sports figures - is a better ambassador for the game than two goons pounding away at each other could ever hope to be. He helped re-energize hockey in Pittsburgh and rekindled interest across the United States. He is a genuine superstar in a league that has for too long gone without one, and now he may never play again.

Indeed, unless the NHL is willing to crack down on all hits to the head, given the emerging science showing how serious repeated head injuries can be to a player's long-term health, Mr. Crosby could be forgiven for taking the money he's already made and retiring now, the better to enjoy a comfortable, migraine-free life of good health, with his short-term memory intact.

That would be a loss to hockey fans everywhere, and a serious blow to the NHL. But unless the league sets aside its fear of alienating its fans and starts

worrying about its star players, quitting may well be the best thing the league's most talented athletes can do for themselves. If that finally forces the league to get serious on head injuries, they'll have done hockey a favour, too.

The above is an opinion piece from the National Post.




School Sports Focus more on Concussion

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   August 25, 2011 21:11

As high school football teams begin practice this week and games in less than a month, they will be doing so with new legislation in place that reinforces concussion awareness and prevention.

The Missouri and Illinois governors each signed bills in July that address the issue, and education of concussion-related topics continues to dominate conversations at local, statewide and national levels of the sport.

"Concussions are the hot topic in football right now," Travis Brown, the athletics director for the St. Louis Public High League, said Friday during a coaches' safety seminar for the PHL.

The similar legislation in both states mandates that a student must receive medical approval before resuming play. The Missouri bill signed by Gov. Jay Nixon on July 13 requires players appearing to have a concussion or brain injury to sit out for 24 hours, which mirrors the return-to-play policies of both the Missouri and Illinois high school athletic associations. Both mandate education for coaches and athletes about concussion symptoms. The Illinois law was signed July 28.

The two state athletic associations are spearheading much of the education process. Craig Anderson, assistant executive director for the IHSA, said head coaches and officials will receive concussion awareness training in meetings. He said awareness, as much as anything, is key.

"I think coaches are becoming more aware. The awareness is there now. I think in our state — and hopefully across the nation — kids are getting proper instruction," Anderson said. "My hope is that we will steadily see a decrease in concussions."

Anderson noted that an uptick in the number of concussions is possible in the near future, and that may be a good thing. A researcher from Purdue University estimates that 67,000 concussions occur in high school football nationwide, and the same amount go unreported. With a broader awareness, Anderson said, the number of concussions reported may initially go up.

The speaker at the PHL's concussion training, Dr. Tom Martin, a neuropsychologist from the University of Missouri, reminded the coaches that younger athletes are particularly at risk of brain injuries. He said it is difficult to compare the concussion treatment of a high school athlete to one seen at the professional level because the adult football player has a different, often quicker, healing process.

Martin emphasized that younger athletes are more vulnerable to concussions, have more severe symptoms and may take longer to recover than an adult athlete.

When it comes to preventing the injury, he said there are several ways.

"I think prevention can take on many faces," Martin said. "One is looking at ways to change rules to minimize possibility for a brain injury, and the second one is education is key so people understand the signs and symptoms."

And education is exactly what Brown hoped Friday's event would accomplish.

"My goal is to educate all the parents and the student athletes and the coaches and make the community at-large aware of concussions," Brown said. "My goal is to spread this to everyone involved. Parents need to know the signs of concussions. They need to know the symptoms of concussions. The kids may not play in a school organized league, but they may play in a recreational league in their community. They need to educate their student athlete."



Brain Injury Linked to Parkinson

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   August 25, 2011 21:06
Traumatic brain injury has entered the public's consciousness as the silent, signature wound brought back by many of our military warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan. But such injuries don't only happen in warfare, they happen to civilians too. Think car crashes, a slip and fall, two football players colliding helmet to helmet.
While most people know the results of a traumatic brain injury — ranging from a simple headache to long-term problems with memory and thinking, depending on the severity — few are aware that such an injury can also increase one's risk later in life for Parkinson's disease, the neurodegenerative disorder that affects roughly 1 percent to 2 percent of the population over the age of 65.
Now scientists at UCLA have found the mechanism for this elevated, long-term risk of Parkinson's: the loss of a specific type of neuron.
In a pre-clinical study, the researchers found that a moderate traumatic brain injury in rats caused a 15 percent loss in the brain cells known as nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons shortly after the trauma, and that this loss continued to progress to a 30 percent loss 26 weeks after the initial injury.
The loss of these particular neurons can result in the cardinal motor symptoms observed in Parkinson's patients, including akinesia (problems with movement), postural tremor and rigidity. Further, when combined with a second known risk factor for Parkinson's, the pesticide paraquat, the loss of dopaminergic neurons doubled to 30 percent much faster.
The study, which appears in the current online edition of the journal Neurotrauma, was conducted by first author Che Hutson, a former UCLA graduate student, and senior author Dr. Marie-Francoise Chesselet, a UCLA professor of neurology, along with colleagues.
While traumatic brain injury was known to be a risk factor for Parkinson's, no one knew why. Nor was it known whether traumatic brain injury acts synergistically with pesticides such as paraquat, one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, which is known to be toxic to human beings and animals and has been linked to the development of Parkinson's.
Nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons are involved in the production of dopamine, which plays an important role in the regulation of movement, among other things. The current study demonstrated that while a traumatic brain injury does not cause Parkinson's, it can make individuals more susceptible to the disorder, Chesselet said.
"We found that with a moderate traumatic brain injury, the loss of neurons was too small in number to cause Parkinson's disease, but it is enough to increase the risk of PD," she said. "By decreasing the number of dopaminergic neurons, any further insult to the brain will be attacking a smaller number of neurons; as a result, the threshold for symptoms would be reached faster."
Second, Chesselet noted, "shortly after a traumatic brain injury, these neurons are more vulnerable to a second insult."
The research looked at both the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury and the acute, or short-term, effects, combined with an exposure to low doses of paraquat. In the acute study, rats receiving moderate traumatic brain injury alone experienced a 15 percent loss of dopaminergic neurons. The addition of paraquat increased the effect, causing a 30 percent loss of neurons.
In the long-term study, which did not include the addition of paraquat, the rat's brains showed a 30 percent loss of dopaminergic neurons 26 weeks after the injury. This suggests that in the long term, traumatic brain injury alone is sufficient to induce a progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons.
"These are the first data revealing that in a model of experimental traumatic brain injury, not only do nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons degenerate, those that survive become sensitized to paraquat toxicity," said study author David A. Hovda, a professor of neurosurgery and director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center.
"These results suggest that greater attention should be given to the long-term risk of Parkinson's after traumatic brain injury, and that the epidemiology of both risk factors, brain injury and exposure to paraquat, should be evaluated in combination," Chesselet said.
Other authors of the study included Dr. Christopher Giza of UCLA; Carlos Lazo, now at Emory University; and Farzad Mortazavi, now at the Boston University School of Medicine.
Funding for the study was provided by the UCLA Center for Gene Environment Studies in Parkinson's Disease (supported by the National Institutes of Environmental Health); the UCLA Morris K. Udall Center (supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke); a Ruth Kirschtein National Service Research award; a University of California Toxic Substances Research and Teaching student fellowship; an American Psychological Association minority fellowship; the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research; and the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center.
By: Mark Wheeler



Coaches Adapting to New Concussion Rule

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   August 25, 2011 21:00

Cody Spanberger had a concussion every year at Granite City High School. Three he got playing football. The other he had during baseball season, which he didn't report.

"We didn't really tell anyone about that," said Spanberger, "because it was not likely to happen again."

That attitude might not cut it this year. A new state law is requiring that any student athlete even suspected of having a concussion get an OK from a doctor before playing again. The law is meant to curb the kind of serious — even fatal — brain injuries that young athletes can get after repeated, jarring blows to the head on the playing field.

But with football season moving into high gear, some are questioning how the new rule will be applied — and whether it will have a real impact on the rough-and-tumble world of student sports.

"Kids can be competitive to a fault," said Collinsville High School Athletic Director Chris Kusnerick. "Our hope is that they'll be honest and our trained medical professionals will be able to recognize when a condition warrants attention."

Put me in coach

The law Gov. Pat Quinn signed late last month essentially forces coaches to remove any player who might have had a head injury during a practice or game. It applies to all sports and all ages and mandates that school districts work with the Illinois High School Association on developing plans to make sure the rule is followed.

The onus is put on coaches, trainers, players and referees to spot signs of a concussion, which the legislation broadly defines as "loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion or balance problems."

Jason Bennett, a St. Louis University athletic trainer and physical therapist, said concussions have gone overlooked for far too long because the injuries aren't taken seriously.

"If an athlete can get up and run around, and there's no obvious injury, there's a less serious sense of urgency," he said.

He said athletes who head back to the field before a concussion is healed run the risk of 'second impact syndrome." The potentially fatal condition can result from even a mild blow that rattles the brain, stopping its ability to regulate blood flow. This can cause swelling, permanent brain damage or death.

Of the 138 traumatic deaths of high school football athletes over the past 30 years, 17 were attributed to second impact syndrome, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Former Collinsville High School quarterback Austin Hails is familiar with concussions: He sat out four varsity games last year after a rough play.

"I hit my head and I remember standing up and doing the signs for a play," Hails recalled.

But other than having a case of the giggles and forgetting who his opponent was, Hails said, his head was in the game.

"I was ready to go back in way before they said I was OK," he said.

I'm ready to play today

Hails and Spanberger, who both graduated in May, highlight the potential challenge of enforcing the new rule: It's sometimes difficult to tell when someone has a concussion. In his experience, Hails said, players would rather risk further injury than ride the bench.

"There was one kid on my team who was having some head pain and he didn't want to sit out," he said. "So he didn't say anything to the trainer."

Coaches say keen eyes of trainers, refs and physicians will be key to making the new legislation work. Many area teams keep trainers and physicians on the field during varsity matches to help them spot suspect symptoms that players might not be aware of, or trying to cover up.

"My biggest fear is when the underclassmen go on the road, they may not have trainers on the field," said Joe Iorio, Columbia High School athletic director.

Coaches say teaching proper technique early on also helps.

"If I don't think a kid is ready for contact, they won't put on pads and a helmet," said Jeff Hasty, who coaches 6-year-olds for the O'Fallon Little Panthers Sports Club.

The minute a player complains of a headache or other concussion symptom, Hasty pulls them off the field until they've been checked out.

In the end, education will be key to making sure kids stay safe while not altering the spirit of the game, said Eddy Harkins, president of the Tri-County Junior Football league, which has teams in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties.

"It's an impact sport, a collision sport. We encourage that," he said. "It's safe when we teach it properly."



Arizona First US to Mandate Concussion Education

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   August 24, 2011 20:52

PHOENIX, Aug. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), and the Arizona Cardinals today announced a major breakthrough in concussion prevention and research that will immediately affect more than 100,000 Arizona student athletes.  

Today, Arizona becomes the first in the United States to mandate all male and female athletes undergo concussion education and pass a formal test before play through a new program specifically geared toward students. The program is expected to become a model for other states to follow.

Arizona ranks second in the nation for traumatic brain injury and until now, there has never been a mandated education and testing program designed for student athletes to teach them about the dangerous effects of concussion.

Twenty-eight states, including Arizona, have concussion laws that require concussion education, removal from play and return to play. Arizona is the first to define and create the education directly targeting students through a new e-learning module and the AIA is the first to require that every student complete and pass the education module in order to participate in athletics. This program, designed by AIA, Barrow and the Arizona Cardinals, is expected to change the face of high school sports in Arizona.

"The AIA recognizes the seriousness of this debilitating brain injury and is proud to be taking the lead in changing the way athletes are educated about traumatic brain injuries associated in sports," says Harold Slemmer, Ed.D., Executive Director of the AIA. The AIA is an association of public and private high schools throughout Arizona that oversees interscholastic activities including athletics in 275 schools.

"There are approximately 3 million sports-related concussions nationally each year," says Javier Cardenas, MD, neurologist at Barrow in Phoenix, who has taken a statewide lead in concussion prevention. "Players recognizing the signs and symptoms of concussion can prevent death and disability."

All student athletes through the AIA will receive their concussion education through Brainbook, an interactive online site created by Barrow and Arizona State University. Designed to look like a social media site, the students are taken through a series of educational content, activities and videos. At the end of the module, the students are required to pass a formal exam before being cleared to play. The module is the first collaborative educational effort between a pro football team, a hospital, and an interscholastic agency. Brainbook is currently being evaluated for implementation in other states throughout the nation.

In addition to the education program, Barrow has received a $250,000 grant from the Maddock Foundation to develop a research registry which will track concussed student athletes. This will be a powerful tool for Barrow neurologists and researchers to make never-before-known insights into the long-term effects of concussion.

The AIA, Barrow and the Arizona Cardinals have been partnering for the past year to create this milestone program. The NFL and the Arizona Cardinals have been very instrumental in passing concussion legislation.

"We are pleased to have worked with Commissioner Goodell's office to help protect young student athletes in all sports," says Michael Bidwill, President of the Arizona Cardinals. "This education module and research program today takes the Arizona legislation passed in February to the next level. We are very proud to be part of this revolutionary program."

Article source: Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center




Concussion Awareness Law, in North Carolina, Signed by Governor Bev Perdue

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   August 24, 2011 20:48

On Thursday, June 16th, Governor Bev Purdue signed into law a bill to protect North Carolina middle and high school student-athletes against concussions. This piece of legislation, known as the Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act, is designed to raise awareness of the significance of concussion injuries, as well as emphasize the importance of safety in sports.

Matthew Gfeller died in August 2008 after sustaining a head injury during a high school football game in Winston-Salem. He played for R.J. Reynolds High School.  Jaquan Waller, a football player at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, died in September 2008, after sustaining a head injury during a game. Waller suffered from Second Impact Syndrome, a condition that occurs when a person sustains multiple concussions in a short period of time.

The key points of this bill include:

1. Mandatory concussion education is required for all parents, coaches, administrators,  and athletes to read & sign annually.

 2. If an athlete displays any signs or symptoms of concussion during competition or practice, they are immediately removed from play and not allowed to return-to-play that day.  Prior to returning to sport, they must be evaluated and cleared by a medical provider with training in concussion management.

3. A venue-specific Emergency Action Plan is required for each facility hosting athletic events. 

 The act currently applies to all public middle and high schools, and will begin 2011-2012 school year.

 CFPSM would like to thank our providers, staff, patients and their families who helped by contacting their local representatives in the House and Senate to support this act. The multiple letters, emails, and phone calls for this act were heard, appreciated, and made a difference in the lives of the student-athletes across North Carolina.

 CFPSM’s Carolina Sports Concussion Clinic was established in August 2008. Our mission is to educate the community on concussion prevention, recognition, and proper management. To date, our providers have evaluated and managed over 500 concussions.  Dr. Josh Bloom is also a member of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Athletic Safety Task Force Committee.

 For more information on the Carolina Sports Concussion Clinic, please visit:

 To read the full article regarding passing the Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act, please visit:





School Sports: Concussion Testing

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   August 24, 2011 20:44

Cary, NC – Ready or not, Fall is around the corner and once again school will be in session. That means many teens are already practicing for their school sport, whether it’s football, soccer, cheerleading or any other physical activity.

As parents, we make sure that our children are well prepared for school and sports by providing all the equipment needed. But, what about preparing for the possibility of a future head injury? 

Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act

Now you can have a baseline ImPACT test done for all high risk athletes before a head injury like a concussion occurs.

In June, Governor Bev Purdue signed into law a bill to protect North Carolina middle and high school student-athletes against concussions. This piece of legislation, known as the Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act, is designed to raise awareness of the significance of concussion injuries, as well as emphasize the importance of safety in sports.

Matthew Gfeller died in August 2008 after sustaining a head injury during a high school football game in Winston-Salem. He played for R.J. Reynolds High School.  Jaquan Waller, a football player at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, died in September 2008, after sustaining a head injury during a game. Waller suffered from Second Impact Syndrome, a condition that occurs when a person sustains multiple concussions in a short period of time.

What exactly qualifies as a concussion?

A concussion is so much more than just a bump in the head, or getting one’s “bell rung.”  A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury and results in a wide variety of symptoms.

These symptoms fall into four categories:

  • Physical
  • Cognitive (those that affect thinking & concentration)
  • Emotional
  • Sleep related

These symptoms are a result of either a direct blow to the head, or a blow to another part of the body which transmits a force through the head resulting in the brain being shaken, compressed, or twisted within the skull.

When the brain is functioning normally, there is a nice, steady balance of impulses shooting from one cell to the next.  When this balance is disrupted, a change in emotional responses occurs and these symptoms become apparent.

Measuring Head Injury

Since this metabolic imbalance cannot be seen on imaging such as CT scan, or MRI, how can the severity of these injuries be measured?  Healthcare professionals used to rely solely on the description of symptoms provided by the athlete.

An athlete could say “I have a headache” or “I feel dizzy when I turn my head from side to side” but it was difficult to measure the cognitive deficit that had likely occurred.

Now, there are options and ways to measure neurocognitive function using a computer-based test. In Cary, physicians at Carolina Family Practice & Sports Medicine (CFPSM) developed the Carolina Sports Concussion Clinic.

This clinic, in addition to obtaining a thorough medical history and asking specific questions regarding symptom patterns, has added the use of ImPACT testing to its toolbox. ImPACT helps providers make appropriate clinical recommendations based on an athlete’s composite scores in four categories:

  1. verbal memory
  2. visual memory
  3. visual motor speed
  4. reaction time

In the Fall of 2008, CFPSM provided baseline ImPACT testing for all high risk athletes in the Wake County Public High Schools.  Once these baseline tests were established, athletes were then referred to CFPSM after sustaining a concussion and a repeat test was performed as part of the athlete’s office visit.

Once an athlete was evaluated, his or her ImPACT scores were also taken into account in making a diagnosis of concussion as well as developing an individualized plan for each athlete’s recovery.

Can I get a baseline test for my child?

Each year, CFPSM has added new schools and organizations to its baseline testing pool.  Student-athletes at Campbell University, St. Augustine’s College, Cardinal Gibbons High School, East Coast Eagles Hockey, and various youth sports programs have initiated baseline ImPACT testing as part of their pre-participation standards.

Other area schools like Cary Academy are considering implementing baseline testing for the 2011-12 school year. Check with your school to make sure they offer this test to their student athletes.

If you or your child is in an extracurricular sport, you can get the whole team tested. Baseline testing can be done in a group setting, takes less than an hour to complete, and is reasonably priced.

As athletic participation remains a popular recreational choice for youth, adolescents, and adults alike, concussion awareness will continue be to at the forefront of the Carolina Sport Concussion Clinic’s presence in the Wake County community.