March 8, 2012

Eric Shepperd

Conquering Concussions Initiative Raises Awareness Of TBI

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale is pleased to partner with the CACTIS Foundation, a community-based institution focused on advancing the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease, and to support its Conquering Concussions initiative which raises awareness about minimal Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI). Don’t let the name fool you — “minimal” head injuries like concussions are often ignored or mistreated, especially in young athletes, and can lead to serious medical conditions.

Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability for America’s youth. While many of the severe cases are attributed to accidents, it is estimated that sports and recreational activities cause between one and four million new brain injuries each year. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should pull your child from all physical activity and contact sports; however, being able to recognize the signs and symptoms and how to properly monitor and treat a mTBI can prevent serious, but avoidable, complications.

Dr. Hirsch Handmaker, chairman and CEO of The CACTIS Foundation, in collaboration with Barrow Neurological Institute, is developing an age-appropriate e-learning module designed especially for six- to 14-year-olds as part of the Conquering Concussions initiative. The three-component program includes Junior Brainbook, which consists of an interactive website for education, treatment and evaluation of concussions; educational materials for parents, teachers, coaches and guardians and the guidelines regarding the management of a child suspected of suffering from a concussion; and live presentations by well-known professional athletes who have been affected by post-concussion complications. This is an extension of the Brainbook educational project currently in existence for Arizona high school students.

The Junior Brainbook project will be piloted with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale with anticipated subsequent roll-out to 22 organizations and 73 clubs comprising the Arizona Alliance for Boys & Girls Clubs and with other teams and clubs nationwide.

“Expanding this project to target younger athletes, those most vulnerable to complications from concussions, will hopefully reduce the number of preventable episodes and sequelae in the future” Dr. Handmaker says. “The Conquering Concussions program aims to bring to light the consequences of repetitive head injury and Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) on a national and grassroots level.”

Helping to kick off the program is Chris Nowinski, former Harvard University football player, professional wrestler and president of the Sports Legacy Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to solving the sports concussion crisis. He will receive the first-ever Conquering Concussions “Hero” Award from the CACTIS Foundation and act as keynote speaker at an awareness banquet on March 16 at the Hotel Valley Ho. The proceeds from the banquet will directly benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

Nowinski is an ardent advocate for concussion education. Forced into retirement after a series of concussions in 2003, Nowinski suffered post-concussion syndrome. His challenging recovery inspired him to write the book “Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis” in an effort to educate parents, coaches and children of this growing health epidemic.

Following the banquet on March 17 will be the second “Current Topics in Sports Medicine” symposium, also at the Hotel Valley Ho. Topics include the latest approaches to concussion management; new developments in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in concussion evaluation; how to educate young athletes about concussions as well as addressing other common sports-related injuries, including the increasing prevalence of hip injuries in athletes; shoulder pain in throwing athletes; and the growing interest in Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP). World experts in these topics will once again be presenting their latest information to the audience.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale is honored to be a part of this exciting new program. Today, more than 16,000 community youths ages six to 18 are served through nine branches and 12 outreach sites in Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Hualapai Indian community and other Northeast Valley neighborhoods.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale is committed to providing athletic programs and promote healthy physical activity in children. With programs, including gymnastics, basketball, karate, football and cheer, it is crucial all members are educated on the latest in healthcare.

For more information about Conquering Concussions and the CACTIS Foundation, visit