Pro Athletes, Coaches and Other Experts to Help Raise Awareness of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Sports

(Commack, N.Y.) One of the most prevalent, severe and compelling health issues in sports today – a condition that affects athletes of virtually all ages, sizes and types – – is serious head injuries. From suffering frequent concussions to experiencing a severe jolt to the head, this issue is becoming more worrisome and frequent in today’s world of sports.

With March being designated “National Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Month,” the Long Island-based Head Injury Association is hosting its annual “Head Injury Awareness & Prevention Sports Celebrity Forum” on Thursday, March 12, 2009, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Wind Watch (1717 Motor Parkway in Hauppauge, NY). The event is free and open to the public.

According to Liz Giordano, CEO of the Head Injury Association, the function will feature distinguished sports figures, entertainers, newscasters and public figures. Already committed to participate in the Forum are WCBS-TV’s Medical Reporter, Dr. Max Gomez, who will moderate the program; and internationally-renowned recording artist Deborah Gibson, who will perform two songs.

Also expected to attend the event are former Yale University and NY Jets running back John Nitti, who lost his own father to a brain injury; one time NFL punter Sean Landeta, who won two Super Bowls with the NY Giants; retired top-rated heavyweight boxing contender Gerry Cooney; the host of her own radio show on WFAN radio, Ann Liguori; News 12 LI’s sports producer & anchor, Michael Coleman; the son of highly-popular former Mets manager, Gil Hodges, Jr.; and County Legislator John Cooper.

In addition, one of the speakers that day will be Bruno Cavallo, the star basketball player from Hampton Bays High School, who has suffered two sports-related concussions in the past seven months.

Ten athletic endeavors will be directly represented at the Forum: six team sports (baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey, lacrosse and soccer) and four individual sports (boxing, pro wrestling, gymnastics and figure skating). The spokespersons from these activities will represent constituencies ranging from adolescents, junior and senior high school athletes and private youth league competitors to recreational, college and professional performers.

“In the U.S. today,” stated Giordano, “there are more than five million people who suffer from a traumatic brain injury, which is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. In 2008, a traumatic brain injury occurred every 16 seconds in this country, with death happening every 12 minutes. And sports, unfortunately, play a big part in these statistics.”

Giordano also pointed out that among children, from 0 to 14 years of age, there annually are 2,685 deaths, 37,000 hospitalizations and 435,000 emergency room visits due to traumatic head injuries.

To register for the Forum of for further information about TBI’s and the services available to individuals affected by them, call the HIA (631-543-2245) or visit www.headinjuryassoc.org

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