Spring 2011 Issue

Partnering With SunTrust Bank To Provide
Free Concussion Testing For Student Athletes

For the fourth year in a row, SunTrust Bank and Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates have partnered to offer free ImPACT baseline concussion testing to 5,000 student athletes in Gaston, Mecklenburg, and Union counties. This cognitive testing, the same used by the NFL, NHL, MLB, and college sports programs, is performed at the start of each sport's season. If an athlete suffers a concussion during the season, the test is taken again and compared to the original baseline results. This can help determine when or if an athlete can safely return to play.

"When an athlete suffers a concussion, it's essential for them to recover completely before returning to the field," said David Wiercisiewski, MD, a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist at Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates and director of the Carolina Sports Concussion Program. "That's because a second concussion injury that occurs before the brain has recovered can be debilitating and even deadly."

Professional sports have begun to take concussions more seriously, prompting rule changes in the NFL that make certain types of hits illegal. Major League Baseball has designated a separate disabled list for concussions. The next version of the popular Madden football video game will even place a special emphasis on concussions. Any digital player that is "hit" hard enough to have a concussion has to sit on the sideline for the remainder of the game. The game announcers will then explain on-screen the seriousness of concussions.

"The fact that professional sports are emphasizing concussions is very important for younger players as well," said Dr. Wiercisiewski. "They want to emulate the pros. When they see that having a concussion is serious, they will be more likely to tell a parent or coach when they have symptoms and realize that sitting out games to recover isn't weak - it's the smartest thing they could ever do."

For more information about concussion testing or the Carolina Sports Concussion Program, call 704-831-4323 or go to www.ConcussionRecovery.com.

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