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Sports-related concussions is focus of SUNY Upstate public information day Oct. 28

Medical experts, school officials, coaches and student-athletes will participate in a public information day titled "Head Games: Sports-Related Concussions" Sunday, Oct. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Institute for Human Performance, 505 Irving Ave., Syracuse.

"There is no such thing as a mild concussion," said Brian Rieger, Ph.D., a SUNY Upstate psychologist specializing in concussion and brain injury. "While the immediate symptoms of a concussion resolve quickly, some cases can pose significant health risks. Concussion sufferers can have lingering problems with memory, emotion and other cognitive functions."

Rieger said roughly one out of six baseball, football and soccer players will likely sustain a concussion during the sports season. "The best way to prevent a concussion is to wear protective equipment and to avoid high-risk situations," he said. "Once an athlete has a concussion, efforts shift to minimizing the chances of long-term problems through proper management of the injury."

Rieger said one of the most important decisions coaches, parents and athletes will have to make is whether a child takes the field again after suffering a concussion. "The pressures to play need to be balanced by a good understanding of the risks of a child returning to the game," he said.

In addition to Rieger, presenters include Kathleen Brown, M.D., an emergency room physician at University Hospital; Michael V. Kaplan, president of the NYS Brain Injury Association and co-chair of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group; Diane B. Montgomery, M.D., a Syracuse pediatrician; Tim Neal, head athletic trainer for Syracuse University; Irving G. Raphael, M.D., head team physician for Syracuse University; and parents and athletes who have dealt with sports-related concussion first-hand.

All participants will receive a free copy of the booklet "Facts About Concussion and Brain Injury" and a pocket card that provides coaches, trainers and parents with guidelines on how to deal with concussions that occur during a sporting event.

The information day is presented by Think First of CNY and co-sponsored by SUNY Upstate Medical University and University Hospital's Health Connections. The registration fee is $5 per person. Individuals are encouraged to register early. The deadline to register is Oct. 26. To register or for more information, call 315-464-8668 or 1-800-464-8668.