Hard Knocks: The Public Health Problem of Concussion

If you put a helmet on your son and whacked him on the head a thousand times, that wouldn’t seem good, would it? But a child who starts in in pee wee football could sustain more than a thousand hits to his head before high school, says Holly Benjamin, M.D. (’94) who started and directs the University of Chicago’s primary care sports medicine program.

It sounds like an incredible number until she breaks it down: Young football players take about 1,000 hits a season, or 100 hits a week. Dr. Benjamin has been thinking about concussions a lot over the past three years, as the University of Chicago’s principal investigator participating in a massive, 30-institution national research study that’s focused on concussions and head impact exposure in NCAA student athletes.

National Concussion Study Concludes Third Year

Dr. Benjamin is professor of orthopaedic surgery, rehabilitation medicine and pediatrics, as well as director of Primary Care Sports Medicine at UChicago. She and her sports medicine team recently wrapped up studies of 475 Division III athletes at UChicago. Their work contributes to the Grand Alliance Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium study, finishing its third year in September. The study is jointly funded by the Department of Defense and the NCAA. The vast storehouse of new data will give researchers sufficient raw material to ascertain correlations as well as causations.

The long-term goal? To enhance the safety of student athletes and service members alike.

Read the full article in the current issue of Ignite magazine.

Dr. Benjamin and her son

Dr. Benjamin is not only a physician; she’s also a mother who had safety on her mind when she accompanied her son on a Boy Scout canoeing trip to the Boundary Waters in the Superior National Forest in Northeast Minnesota over the summer, as shown in the photos.

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