On July 12, the Western New York Public Health Alliance and the New York State Public Health Association collaborated to host the first symposium in a series of symposiums on brain health with the topic of concussion management. This free event was held at Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville and was open to the public. Organizers said 100 attendees attended, representing all eight counties of Western New York, including school coaches, trainers and nurses, along with county employees and other interested participants.
The symposium included four different speakers, with the first one being Mark Kelso, formerly a safety with the Buffalo Bills, who transitioned to a career coaching and training. His years of experience as a player and as a coach were shared with the audience with a special focus on concussions. Kelso was able to engage the audience with his stories about being one of the first NFL players to address concussion issues with helmet design changes. He brought examples of the helmets to demonstrate the changes made to protect the player from concussions.
The second speaker was Todd Nelson, assistant director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. Nelson talked about how the NYSPHSAA is addressing concussions in all high school sports. He described the changes in regulations and made specific recommendations for school systems that would help them become more concussion aware and responsive.
After lunch, the Symposium transitioned to more of a medical perspective on concussions. The next speaker was Dr. Ryan Krzyzanowicz, a clinical associate professor and program director for the master of science in athletic training at the University at Buffalo. Krzyzaniak discussed the role of the athletic trainer in concussion management and gave an overview of signs and symptoms that trainers look for when working with athletes.
The final speaker of the day was Dr. John Leddy, professor of clinical orthopedics and rehabilitation sciences at the UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Leddy went into detail on the physiology of concussions and provided the audience with an understanding of recovery protocols. These included the latest research on how soon people who have suffered a concussion can return to both regular activities and games.
The second symposium on brain health will focus on dementia-related topics and will be held this fall.
The Western New York Public Health Alliance is a not-for-profit organization comprised of the health commissioners/public health directors and other community public health leaders from the eight counties of Western New York. Its mission is to support collaboration across WNY to further public health initiatives and priorities. As part of this mission, the WNYPHA works to provide health education and information to prevent disease and improve population health.