March is brain injury awareness month. Concussions are sometimes described as a mild brain injury because they are not usually life-threatening, but the effects of concussions can be incredibly serious. PAR offers two apps that can be used by individuals who are concerned with treating and diagnosing concussions. The Concussion Recognition & Response™ (CRR) app helps coaches and parents recognize whether an individual is exhibiting and/or reporting the signs of a concussion. In fewer than 5 minutes, a parent or coach can complete a checklist of signs and symptoms to help determine whether to seek medical attention. The app allows users to record pertinent information regarding the child with a suspected concussion, allowing them to easily share that information with health-care providers. Post-injury, it guides parents through follow-up treatment. The Concussion Assessment & Response™: Sport Version (CARE) app is a tool for athletic trainers, team physicians, and other qualified health care professionals to assess the likelihood of a concussion and respond quickly and appropriately. The CRR app is available free of charge. The CARE app costs just $4.99. Both apps are available for download through the Apple® App StoreSM and Google Play for use on your iPhone®, iPad®, iPod® Touch,  Android™ device, or tablet!  
Last month, major news outlets reported that a new study had linked concussions to a higher suicide risk among adolescents—but did the media get the story right? In April, headlines such as “Concussions make young people more likely to attempt suicide” (U.S. News and World Report) and “Once-concussed teenagers found to be at higher risk for bullying, suicide” (Education Week) began to appear. Each source referenced a study by Dr. Gabriela Ilie, a post-doctoral fellow at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Ilie’s study, which was published on April 15 in the science journal Plos One, looked at data from 4,685 surveys administered to adolescents in grades 7 through 12 as part of a 2011 drug use and health survey in Ontario. In the weeks since, however, there has been some criticism, not of the study itself but of the way it was covered by the media. In her April 22 article “The press release that fell and hit its head,” Brenda Goodman, a health writer for the Association of Healthcare Journalists, followed up with Ilie about the study. One of Goodman’s criticisms is that the media coverage—including St. Michael’s own press release—used the word “concussion” to describe the brain injuries that were associated with suicide risk, even though the study itself does not use that word. Instead, the study refers to a narrower band of more traumatic brain injuries, defined as “head injury that resulted in being unconscious for at least 5 minutes or being retained in the hospital for at least one night.” Why is that distinction so important? Goodman points out that more serious brain injuries are likely to be the result of car accidents or assaults; sports-related concussions, while still serious, result in loss of consciousness only about 10 percent of the time. So what did the study actually say about TBI and suicide risk? “When holding constant sex, grade, and complex sample design,” according to Ilie’s findings, “students with TBI had significantly greater odds of reporting elevated psychological distress (AOR = 1.52), attempting suicide (AOR = 3.39), seeking counselling through a crisis help-line (AOR = 2.10), and being prescribed medication for anxiety, depression, or both (AOR = 2.45).” The study goes on to say that students with TBI had higher odds of being bullied or threatened with a weapon at school, compared with students who did not report a TBI. Ilie recommends that physicians screen for potential mental health and behavioral problems in adolescent patients with TBI. This study demonstrated a correlation between some types of TBI and suicide risk in adolescents; it did not, however, show a causal relationship between concussion and suicide. Brenda Goodman and health writers like her remind us that when it comes to psychology news, it’s important to go beyond the headlines and look at the original research.
Image Have you downloaded our Concussion Recognition & Response™ (CRR) app yet? The app is now available free of charge for download through the Apple® App StoreSM and Google Play for use on your iPhone®, iPad®, iPod® Touch, Android™ device, or tablet! The CRR app helps coaches and parents recognize whether an individual is exhibiting and/or reporting the signs of a concussion. In fewer than 5 minutes, a parent or coach can complete a checklist of signs and symptoms to help determine whether to seek medical attention. The app allows users to record pertinent information regarding the child with a suspected concussion, allowing them to easily share that information with health-care providers. Post-injury, it guides parents through follow-up treatment. Click here to view the PARtners and Supporters of the CRR, including Hall of Fame NFL Quarterback Steve Young!
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), and partners from all across the healthcare spectrum are working together this month to spread the word about traumatic brain injury prevention, recognition, and response. PAR is proud to join these advocates in recognizing March as National Brain Injury Awareness Month. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. Concussion is one of the most common forms of brain injury. The CDC estimates that 1.7 million Americans sustain a TBI, including concussions, each year. Of those individuals, 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized, and 1.4 million are treated and released from an emergency department. “Since anyone can sustain a brain injury at any time, it is important for everyone to have access to comprehensive rehabilitation and ongoing disease management,” says Dr. Brent Masel, national medical director for BIAA. “Doing so eases medical complications, permanent disability, family dysfunction, job loss, homelessness, impoverishment, medical indigence, suicide and involvement with the criminal or juvenile justice system.” Good sources of information about TBI signs and symptoms include the CDC’s Traumatic Brain Injury Web site, as well as their “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports” program.  The BIAA “Anytime, Anywhere, Anyone” awareness campaign site is another excellent resource for understanding and disseminating information about brain injury. PAR recognizes the importance of brain injury awareness.  To help address this problem, we have partnered with concussion experts from the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC and the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at UNC Chapel Hill to produce two new apps designed to help parents, coaches, athletic trainers, and medical professionals recognize and respond to potential concussions.  The Concussion Recognition & Response™: Parent and Coach Version and the Concussion Assessment & Response™: Sport Version are easy-to-use, inexpensive downloads for Apple® or Android™ smartphones, tablets, and other devices.  Click on the links to learn more—and help spread the word about National Brain Injury Awareness Month.        
Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology? I was first interested in biology and especially in the brain. In my first behavioral neuroscience class, I felt that this field took on many of the questions that had always been interesting to me. Then I was given the chance to spend a summer as an undergraduate working on a study of people with aphasia. I realized then that I was really interested in neuropsychology. What made you decide initially to develop the Memory for Intentions Test™ (MIST™)? In working with people who have brain injury and asking them to set goals for rehabilitation, the problem of prospective memory, or memory for intentions, kept coming up. I wanted to understand what it was about completing an intention that was difficult for people with brain injury. At the time, there was no standardized measure available. What would you like to tell people about your product that they may not know? I think it is very useful as a clinical measure and has the ability to discriminate between different types of prospective memory failures in different populations; the alternate form makes it useful to measure efficacy of rehabilitation. But it is also a useful research measure and has been published in a number of studies with people with different disorders. What would you like to tell people about yourself that they may not know? I love the theater and one of my jobs during graduate school in New York City was sewing costumes. My kids got interested in theater, and my son even convinced me to be in a community theater production with him. My daughter still does plays, but my son is now focused on playing guitar. How do you spend your free time? I spend as much time as I can with my two children, ages 10 and 14, and my husband. We had the wonderful experience of spending six weeks together as a family in Rome this summer while I taught a course titled “The Arts and the Brain.” I spend time volunteering in my kids’ schools or in other community activities. I love to read novels, the more tragic the better.
Dr. Gerard Gioia was honored by the Children’s Miracle Network with the Children’s Miracle Achievement Award last week at the charity’s annual celebration in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Gioia was named as one of three caregivers of the year for his work and research on concussions. Dr. Gioia is a pediatric neuropsychologist and chief of the division of pediatric neuropsychology at Children’s National Medical Center, the local Children’s Miracle Network hospital for the metropolitan Washington, DC area. Dr. Gioia’s work with the Safe Concussion Outcome, Recovery, and Education (SCORE) program centers on improving the way concussions in youth are treated as well as helping teachers, parents, coaches, and doctors to determine when it is safe for children to return to both school and play. Concussions make up between 80 and 90 percent of all brain injuries in the United States and account for more than 1,000,000 emergency room visits each year.

PAR congratulates Dr. Gioia on this achievement!

Dr. Gioia is coauthor of the Tasks of Executive Control™ (TEC™), the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function® (BRIEF®), the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function®–Preschool Version (BRIEF®-P), the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function®–Adult Version (BRIEF®-A), the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function®–Self-Report Version (BRIEF®-SR), and related software products.