Two-day seminar at Wecht Institute to tackle football brain injuries
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A hot-button issue will be tackled at today's edition of Forensic Fridays at the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University -- a National Football League issue, to be precise. The institute's title for this two-day seminar: "Is Football Bad for the Brain?"
"It's a very hot topic," said Ben Wecht, the institute's program administrator who, for the past six months, helped to coordinate the meeting of medical, scientific, sports and legal authorities. "This is the time to take it on. And, hopefully, the people that we'll be hearing from will make it even hotter."
Late last NFL season, commissioner Roger Goodell -- prompted by Congressional hearings, another spate of star-player concussions and a league-commissioned study finding that former players later suffered memory-related diseases at an incidence 19 times higher than their normal age group -- altered league policy and concussion leadership. The co-chairmen of the league's concussion committee resigned under pressure. The new spokesman is Steelers neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon.
"And that's really one of the reasons we decided we had to do it," Ben Wecht, son of the institute's namesake, said. "So many of these experts are either here in Pittsburgh or very close to Pittsburgh."
Among the scheduled speakers:
• Maroon and Dr. Mark Lovell, also of UPMC, who devised the ImPACT study used nationally and in the NFL to monitor athletes -- from youth to pros -- before, during and after concussions.
• Kevin Guskiewicz, a Latrobe native and one-time graduate assistant trainer with the Steelers who heads the University's of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center, where studies dating to 2003 found former NFL players complaining of dementia and the like later in life at a higher rate than the normal population.
• Dr. Julian Bailes, chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at West Virginia University and the founder, with former Cyril Wecht co-worker Dr. Bennet Omalu, of the Brain Injury Research Institute.
• Dr. Robert Cantu and Dr. Ann McKee, Boston-based professors and hospital directors who helped to found the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy -- a progressive, degenerative brain disease found in people with histories of repetitive concussions. Omalu is credited with first detecting Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in 2002 after examining the brain of the late Mike Webster.
• Garrett Webster, son of Mike Webster and the Player Liaison Administrator with WVU's Brain Injury Research Institute.
• Steelers trainer John Norwig.
Tickets to the seminar, today through midday Saturday at the Power Center Ballroom at Duquesne, cost from $30 to $90 for the public as well as athletic trainers and from $75 and $225 for educators and medical professionals. Discounts are available for Duquesne alumni, government employees and groups of more than five. For information go to email@example.com.
First Published March 12, 2010 12:08 am