By Jessica Schwartz PT, DPT, CSCS
Do you want to know what takes courage?
Throwing your first International Congress for the Athlete Brain Health Foundation.
I’m so proud to know Jeffrey Kutcher MD and Caralyn Baxter PT, DPT of the Sports Neurology Clinic and the deep work that the Executive Committee put together for this 3-day event in Park City, Utah. A special shout out to Courtney and Amy who were running the behind the scenes of this Congress so smoothly.
The focus and energy here has been a forward thinking, collaborative, and low ego environment.
I mentioned the importance of psychological safety in my 15 minute portion in our 90 minute group presentation on mental health with our wonderful working group comprised of a psychologist, physician, athletic trainer, and attorney. Psychological safety is so important for group think, team dynamics, and making teams work. In layman’s terms, it’s stating that you won’t get embarrassed or rejected for saying a wrong thing.
Doctors Kutcher, Giza, and Baxter are clinician-researchers who embody the “GTSD” mentality in psychological safe collaborative research environments.
I’ve been to and spoken at many conferences and this is one of a few where the mission to sincerely gather and move the concussion world forward is palpable and feels tangible.
The present day world we live in as healthcare professionals hasn’t supported the majority of our concussion patient population well. This is partially due to the fact we have over 43 working definitions of the word concussion and only one of them is evidence based.
How can interdisciplinary teams try to collaborate and treat if we’re not all speaking the same language?
The beauty of this International Congress is that more than 50% of the world’s best were in the same room ready to listen, learn, and move the wheel forward to make a better patient experience.
We didn’t harp on the basic science of concussion for the majority of this conference. The old adage at most concussion conferences sounds like the following “we don’t have enough research here and we need to continue doing research.”
The approach of this conference was to break a group of interdisciplinary clinicians and professionals including lawyers, athletic trainers, and patients into small working groups to formulate questions that can be solved and opening up the floor for clinician researchers and patients who dedicate their lives to helping one of the most underserved, underfunded, and under appreciated groups in need…brain Injured patients.
It’s been a true pleasure to meet old and new clinician researchers who I’ve read their collaborative work as I’ve developed my passion and working knowledge in this field for nearly half of my professional career.
It’s also been a delight to meet concussion thrivers and TBI survivors living with persistent symptoms who learn to cope and advocate for themselves and future patients through incredible resiliency and grit.
It takes courage to show up. It takes even more courage to speak up.
Do you need to fill your bucket professionally? Work with one brain injured patient that you’ve collaboratively rehabbed back to life and the gratitude and reward will, without a doubt, be ten-fold.
If you’re a clinician or future clinician who is on the fence in your career decision process, I encourage you to walk on over to the “wild side” of concussion and Brian Injury. When you meet many of us, you’ll find out that most of us were touched by a personal experience with brain injury ranging from family members, ones own injury, or being exposed early in ones career realizing how in need of support this population of patient is world wide.
Thank you for your time and attention reading this blog post.
*This will be updated throughout the weekend of October 19, 2019*
Curious to know more about the Athlete Brain Health Foundation? Read below.
The ABHF is a 501C3 non profit whose mission is to maximize the neurological health of all future, current, and former athletes of all types and levels via objective collation and application of science, clinical experience and the patient perspective.
Athletic pursuits are central to both human development and life-long health. Over recent years, the potential of brain injury and other deleterious neurological effects as the result of physical trauma have come to significantly alter human behavior, resulting in less and less participation in sports and other physical activities.
The risks of concussion, persistent symptoms after concussion, and long-term brain dysfunction as the result of physical impacts are real. At the same time, there are very clear negative neurological effects from not being physically active and athletically engaged. Understanding and applying these two truths in a careful, comprehensive, and critical manner is necessary to maximize brain health. Unfortunately, doing so isn’t easy. Previous efforts to provide clinical and scientific consensus around these issues have either been limited in scope or have lacked objectivity.