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St. John Fisher College Wegmans School of Nursing to Offer Free Concussion Education Day to Community

07/31/2014


The St. John Fisher College Wegmans School of Nursing will offer free ImPACT baseline testing and concussion education to 200 area middle and high school athletes on Tuesday, August 19. The program, which is being funded by the Wilmot Lecture Series, will conclude with a visit by the students to the Buffalo Bills Training Camp. Program partners also include the UR Medicine Sports Concussion Clinic and the Sports Legacy Institute.

According to Dr. Pam Mapstone, Assistant Professor in the Wegmans School of Nursing, in 2013, the Sports and Fitness Industry Association estimated there were 21.8 million kids between the ages of 6 and 17 playing team sports.  They also found that 60% of boys and 47% of girls were already on an organized sports team by the age of 6.  And while the positive effects of sports participation are well documented, an unintended consequence has been the increased risk of concussion, a form of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).   The Centers for Disease Control estimates 1.6-3.8 million concussions occur in sports and recreational activities annually and have increased significantly in the past decade. 

“Concussion in young athletes has become a serious public health concern, as professional athletes reveal their cognitive and emotional difficulties. In addition, the link between concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy continues to be an area of concern and research,” said Mapstone.

She went on to say that in children and adolescents, long-term problems are a concern. However, the more immediate symptoms of concussion that can affect school performance and social, emotional, and family relationships, and that can remove them from sports participation altogether are also a concern.

“Finding effective ways to completely prevent concussions will be difficult until research provides us with a clearer understanding on the mechanism and pathophysiology of concussive injuries.  So, education regarding diagnosis and appropriate management is essential,” she added.

In recent years, New York State has passed concussion legislation requiring coaches, physical education teachers, nurses, and athletic trainers of every school district to complete a concussion course that includes signs and symptoms, mechanism of injury, and return-to-school and play recommendations on a biennial basis. In addition, informational pamphlets including the same information must be provided to every student participant and their parent or guardian.

“While concussion laws have helped increase awareness of symptoms and management of concussion in youth athletes, there are still significant gaps that must be filled by other education initiatives,” added Dr. Jeffrey J. Bazarian, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Rochester.

The program, “Choose Your Brain Not the Game,” is designed to reach up to 200 athletes who do not have access to ImPACT baseline testing through their school districts. The test provides an important measure of neurocognitive functioning and can provide objective data to assist in diagnosis of concussion and to assess readiness for return to play. 

The morning will include the free testing from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., which consists of a computerized concussion evaluation system that is an integral part of an overall concussion management plan. The test takes approximately 20 minutes and measures attention span, visual and verbal memory, processing speed, and reaction time. If a baseline test is completed, the pre- and post-test scores can be used in conjunction with a full evaluation to support the diagnosis of concussion and to help determine if an athlete is ready to begin the return-to-play protocol. All participants will receive a hard copy of their results, and tests will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

The educational presentation, which is open to all athletes even if they are not ImPACT testing, will be provided by representatives from the Sports Legacy Institute Community Educators (SLICE) in Ontario, Canada, from 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. The interactive concussion education program is developed specifically for children and adolescents in grades 4-12. It includes topics such as what a concussion is, including signs and symptoms, why young athletes should care about having a concussion, and what the athlete should do when they think they have a concussion.  

Attendees will be guests of the College at the Buffalo Bills Training Camp afternoon practice, which begins at 2:10 p.m. And the day will conclude with an evening concussion education program for parents, coaches, healthcare providers, and teachers beginning at 5:30 p.m. Dr. Bazarian, who is a recognized expert in sports-related concussion research, diagnosis, and management, will serve as the presenter.

To register for the program, call 585-397-0872 or email pmapstone@sjfc.edu.


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