Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Brain injury conference brings awareness to athlete injuries

Three of the world’s leading experts in traumatic brain injury (TBI) will share their latest research at the Graduate School of Professional Psychology’s conference “Supporting Recovery from Brain Injury: Issues and Interventions” April 9 in the Driscoll Ballroom at the University of Denver.

Interest in brain injuries bled over to the nation’s most popular sport — professional football. During the NFL’s 2009–10 season, the league’s policy on players suffering concussions was reviewed by Congress as several high-profile players missed games because of the injuries. Because in the increased scrutiny, the NFL issued new medical policies that govern when a player and return to play after suffering a concussion.

As awareness of long-term risks of concussions in athletes increases, more people are turning to brain injury experts to find answers. At least a half-dozen states are considering legislation to bench athletes after head injuries in hopes of preventing further risk to players.

Jonathan Jenkins, a second-year graduate student in clinical psychology, is still suffering from the effects of the concussions he received during lacrosse games when he was in college. Jenkins played lacrosse at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., from 2002–06 and suffered two major concussions on the field.

When he returned to class after the second concussion Jenkins says, “The audio would go in and out, the light was flickering and I could not read without getting an intense headache.”

Jenkins says he was embarrassed to tell anyone and thought he was better. But, when he returned to the lacrosse field he couldn’t read the numbers on the other players’ jerseys. The trainer realized he was still suffering from the effects of the concussion. Jenkins has healed since then, but still has some lingering effects.

“I definitely have augmented the way I study,” Jenkins says. “I repeat questions a lot.”

Jenkins says he takes precautions when playing lacrosse and will likely quit the sport altogether so he doesn’t put himself in jeopardy. He says he hopes other college athletes put their experience in perspective, planning for a life after college.

“Concussions are tricky to heal and a lot of damage doesn’t reveal itself until later on or under varying circumstances,” he says.

Experts will share their knowledge on this issue and others at the 3rd Annual Brain Injury Conference. For more information or to register, visit

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