More than a game: symposium takes broad look at sports head injuries

Teaching athletic trainers and medical providers how to prevent deaths and serious injuries among high school and college athletes will be the focus of top experts from around the country meeting at UNC-Chapel Hill April 29-30.

The experts will teach athletic trainers and medical providers at the inaugural Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Neurotrauma Symposium. The symposium will bring about 150 health-care professionals from across the Southeast and beyond for presentations from more than a dozen experts. Registration for the sold-out event is closed.

The agenda represents a comprehensive overview of sports-related serious injury and sudden death issues, including brain injuries such as concussions. Between 1.6 million and 3.8 million sport-related traumatic brain injuries occur in the United States every year, estimates show.

Conference chair Jason Mihalik, Ph.D., assistant professor in the exercise and sport science department in the College of Arts and Sciences, said experts from a diverse range of fields – including the military, legal, medical, exercise science and coaching realms – will share their knowledge.

“Sport injuries, especially head injuries, don’t occur in an athletic vacuum,” said Mihalik. “Brain trauma can seriously affect every aspect of a student’s life, from their playing ability, to their studies, to their relationships with family and friends. Their whole future can change in an instant.

“Dealing with neurotramua is not just a sporting or medical issue. It’s going to take a lot of smart people from different fields to prevent these kinds of injuries and help kids that do get hurt to recover from them. That’s why we’re holding this meeting,” he said.

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Published April 26, 2011.