‘Genius’ researcher, parent discuss sports concussions

“Preventing Concussion in Sport: From Lab to Law,” a seminar on Dec. 2 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will explore the personal and scientific significance of traumatic brain injuries among young athletes.

The event features Kevin Guskiewicz, Ph.D., MacArthur Foundation “Genius” award winner and UNC exercise and sport science researcher, and Robert J. Gfeller, whose son Matthew died after sustaining a traumatic brain injury during a high school football game.

The free public seminar is 3:30 p.m.-5 p.m. in Room G202 of the UNC Medical Biomolecular Research Building. Refreshments will be served from 3 p.m.

Guskiewicz and Gfeller were instrumental in establishing the Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act, legislation signed into law in North Carolina earlier this year governing head injury prevention and management in school sports. They also founded the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at UNC.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. hospital emergency departments treat an estimated 173,000 sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, in children and adolescents each year. These visits have increased 60 percent in the past decade. Bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball and soccer account for most cases. Such injuries can result in short-term problems with thinking, sensation and emotions, and severe long-term outcomes including epilepsy, increased risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and death.

The talk is part of the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center’s 2011-2012 seminar series and is co-sponsored by the Gfeller center.

Guskiewicz is Kenan Distinguished Professor in the exercise and sport science department in the College of Arts and Sciences, director of the Gfeller center and a core faculty member of the injury prevention center.

Seminar location (map): http://g.co/maps/f4nsg