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October 26, 2004
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

SUNY Upstate opens region’s first comprehensive sports concussion center

SYRACUSE, N.Y. —SUNY Upstate Medical University has opened the region’s first comprehensive sports concussion center, located in the Institute for Human Performance, 505 Irving Ave., Syracuse.

The center offers clinical care and research and community education initiatives to improve the understanding, prevention, and management of concussion. A major goal of the center is to assist area colleges, school districts, and athletic programs in developing and implementing concussion management protocols including pre-season cognitive testing for athletes.

Directed by Brian Rieger, Ph.D., a psychologist at SUNY Upstate who specializes in brain injury, the center offers evaluation and treatment services. Initial medical and cognitive assessments are used to develop an individualized treatment program specifically designed to address post-concussion symptoms. Staff educate clients about post-concussion symptoms, how to manage them and on prevention of re-injury. The center also offers case management services that include assistance with insurance and disability issues, and communication, if needed, with other medical professionals, schools or employers.

Concussion, one of the most common injuries in sports, is an injury to the brain caused by a blow that often, but not always, results in loss of consciousness. “Concussion is now widely recognized as a major public health concern,” said Rieger. “A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury but can have not so mild consequences, especially if an athlete returns to play too soon after injury. There is still limited awareness in the athletic, academic, and even medical communities about the serious and sometimes life-long problems that can follow concussion.”

“A concussion alters a person’s mental state and can affect every aspect of their life, not only in sports, but also in their ability to drive or perform at work or in the classroom,” said Rieger. “It is important to seek expert care as early as possible following a blow to the head, because if concussion is not accurately assessed and managed, it can lead to serious complications.”

Rieger and his associates are also working with the Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College athletic departments in a research project that assesses the pre-season and post-concussion cognitive functions of their athletes through the use of computerized technology. “Computerized cognitive assessment now serves as a key component in the assessment of sports-related concussion and return-to-play decision-making,” said Rieger, who is joined in the study by Lawrence Lewandowski, Ph.D., Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence at Syracuse University, and Tim Neal, head athletic trainer at Syracuse University.

Clients may self-refer to the CNY Sports Concussion Center or obtain a referral from their physician. Most insurance carriers cover the costs of the Center’s services, which vary depending on the client’s needs.

For more information, contact the CNY Sports Management Center at 315-464-8986.

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