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Harborview and Seattle Children's Hospital Launch Sports Concussion Program

May 14, 2009

UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s are launching a sports concussion program for children, teen and adult athletes to evaluate, treat and provide medical clearance to return to sports.

UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s are launching a sports concussion program for children, teen and adult athletes to evaluate, treat and provide medical clearance to return to sports. Beginning this summer, patients will be seen at Harborview Medical Center and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

The UW Medicine/Seattle Children’s Sports Concussion Program will help school and team coaches meet the provisions of a new state law that prohibits young athletes showing signs of a concussion from returning to play without a licensed health-care provider’s approval. The law is named after Zackery Lystedt, a Maple Valley teenager who suffered a traumatic brain injury while playing football in October 2006. After sustaining the injury, Zackery returned to play because no one recognized the signs and symptoms of his serious brain injury.

“Concussions can be a serious health problem and they require immediate recognition and proper management,” said Dr. Stanley Herring, co-medical director of the Sports Concussion Program, medical director of the UW Medicine Spine Center at Harborview and a team physician for the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners. “With this program, our community is taking an important step forward to protect athletes who play organized sports.”

“We see many children, as well as adults with sports injuries at Seattle Children’s and Harborview Medical Center,” said Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen, co-medical director of the Sports Concussion Program and professor and chairman of the UW Department of Neurological Surgery. “This collaborative program enhances our ability to diagnose head injuries and provide appropriate treatments to keep young athletes safe and healthy.”

The comprehensive program is composed of health-care providers in Rehabilitation Medicine, Neurological Surgery, Neuropsychology, Sports Medicine and Radiology. In addition, the program will provide education on the prevention and treatment of concussions to parents, trainers, athletes, athletic directors and many others involved in youth sports.

As many as 3.8 million sports-and-recreation-related concussions occur each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Early identification of an athlete with a concussion is critical, as athletes who return to play too soon following initial injury are at risk for brain injuries, some of which can be catastrophic as happened to Zackery Lystedt,” said Richard H. Adler, President of the Brain Injury Association of Washington. “The Sports Concussion Program brings together some of the nation’s top experts on concussions and brain injuries, and will greatly advance the treatment of these injuries to our kids.”

Concussions can happen to any athlete, even without losing consciousness. Prevention and proper treatment are essential. Young athletes should seek medical care immediately if they experience any symptoms after a blow or jolt to the head. For more information, visit: www.cdc.gov or www.biawa.org

About Harborview Medical Center
Harborview Medical Center is owned by King County, managed by the University of Washington, and part of the UW Medicine system of care. Harborview is the only Level I adult and pediatric trauma center serving Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. The medical center’s mission is to provide exemplary patient care, teaching, research, and community service. For more information, visit: www.harborview.org

About Seattle Children's Hospital

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Children’s has been delivering superior patient care and advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit http://www.seattlechildrens.org.

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