The New York State Athletic Trainers Association Conference is being held this weekend at Jamestown Community College and what better way, thought the NYSATA president-elect Aimee Brunelle, to kick things off than by holding a discussion on one of the most pertinent issues in the sports world today - concussions.
"Concussions are a hot topic, and they're a hot topic because they are important," Brunelle, the athletic trainer at JCC said on Tuesday evening. "Today we're seeing more and more young athletes suffer concussions at a younger and younger age.
"We have research now showing that (a concussion) is more than just getting your bell rung, it's a significant injury that could lead to potential long-term problems; so we feel it's an important (issue) to address and educate people on."
With that in mind, Brunelle has invited, among a number of other panelists, Christopher Nowinski, a former Ivy League football player at Harvard and a WWE wrestler, to discuss Head Games, a documentary on concussion-related injuries, at the Scharmann Theater on Friday.
The event, which is free and open to the public, begins with a reception at 7:30 p.m. in the theater lobby followed by the film screening at 8 p.m.
Nowinski, who was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome and whose book, "Head Games," inspired the documentary, interviewed Bob Costas, NHL all-star Keith Primeau, Olympic soccer gold medalist Cindy Parlow Cone and others on the dangers of head concussions, and prompts viewers to ask themselves, "How much of you are you willing to lose for a game?"
"I'm so excited about having Christopher Nowinski here," Brunelle said. "(Talking with him) is an opportunity not a lot of people get."
Joining Nowkinski on the panel will be Michael Mitchell, M.D., WCA sports medicine physician and team physician for both JCC and Falconer High School; Jarett Rhodes, MS.Ed., ATC, CSCS, head athletic trainer at Eastridge High School; Lauren Saglimben, a JCC student-athlete in basketball and soccer who has been affected by concussions during her athletic career; and Saglimben's father, Mark.
Not only is Brunelle hoping to raise awareness amongst players and coaches on the detrimental effects of concussions, but she is also aiming to change the attitude amongst those that too quickly brush aside the injury in order to get back out on the field as soon as possible.
"We need to get athletes away from the 'no blood, no foul' mindset," she said. "It's an invisible injury, you can't see concussions, so we need to teach young athletes on the importance of being truthful on how they're feeling; and teach coaches how to recognize the symptoms."
The panel discussion - which is intended for parents; students interested in the medical field; student-athletes; athletic administrators; school nurses; youth, high school and college coaches; and any other individuals involved in the care of student-athletes - will be held after the film.
"It's about education," Brunelle finished, "and (the issue) needs to be addressed now."
For more information on the film, visit headgamesthefilm.com.