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U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald, Olympic Gold Medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar, and Super Bowl Champion Phil Villapiano pledge brains to Concussion Legacy Foundation

Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert A. McDonald, three-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Nancy Hogshead-Makar, and former Oakland Raiders linebacker and Super Bowl champion Phil Villapiano pledged earlier this week to donate their brains to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which collaborates with the VA and Boston University as part of the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank.

The announcements of Villapiano and Hogshead-Makar were planned as part of the VA-hosted Brain Trust: Pathways to InnoVAtion, a public-private partner event which brought together many of the most influential voices in the field of brain health to identify and advance solutions for mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Secretary McDonald’s announcement was not planned for the event.

“As I listened to the very powerful personal stories from Veterans and the challenges the world’s top researchers are working to overcome in TBI, I made a decision: I decided to join the hundreds of Veterans and athletes who have already donated their brain to the VA Brain Bank so that I may, in a small way, contribute to the vital research happening to better understand brain trauma,” said Secretary McDonald. “This is a very, very serious issue, one that affects Veterans and non-Veterans alike. I’m proud to do my part because I know that the researchers at VA are committed to improving lives and they have my full support.”

The pledges were made as part of the Foundation’s My Legacy campaign, which encourages athletes to leave their legacy by helping solve the concussion crisis through brain donation or other means. Villapiano pledged in honor of his former teammate, Hall of Famer Ken Stabler, who died in 2015 and was diagnosed with CTE at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank. He joins former Oakland Raiders teammates George Atkinson, Art Thoms, and George Buehler, who pledged last month.

“I’d go back and smash my head into anybody, any time. I loved that kind of stuff. Little did I know what has happening inside our heads,” Villapiano said. “Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a big problem and all of my friends are scared to death.”

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USA Diving Coaches Now Required to Complete Concussion Awareness Training

From USADiving.org:

Concussion is a hot topic in the sports world due to the potential seriousness of the injury. Diving is a limited contact sport. It is important to recognize a concussion and seek medical attention as the brain is in a “vulnerable” state during this period. Another head injury during the post-injury period can significantly prolong post-concussion symptoms or even be life threatening.

USA Diving and its medical team are committed to providing education and guidelines for athletes, coaches and parents regarding the recognition and management of concussions. The safety of divers sustaining head injuries is of paramount importance to the health of competitive divers.

Effective January 15, 2016, all USA Diving coach members will be required to have completed a concussion awareness training course. See below for more information.

We also encourage all coaches to review the information and material available on USA Diving’s Concussion Resources page, which includes information on symptoms to watch for, action plans and information sheets that coaches may wish to distribute to athletes and their parents.

Concussion Awareness Training Course – What to do

1. Coaches must take a Concussion Awareness Training Course. This will be a one-time requirement. Coaches may choose to take either the CDC Heads Up course or the National Federation of High SchoolsConcussion in Sports course.

2. After the course has been completed, submit a copy of your certificate to Aurelie Gibson atAurelie.Gibson@usadiving.org. If you have previously taken one of the courses, USA Diving will accept certificates from within the past two years. Please provide a certificate dated no earlier than January 15, 2014 as proof of having previously completed a concussion awareness training course.

3. Current members: To avoid a lapse in your membership, the course must be completed by January 15, 2016. If you have not completed a course by that date, your membership will revert to pending status.

4. Any coaches who register with USA Diving after January 15, 2016 must complete the concussion course before their membership becomes current. (All other membership requirements must also be met.)

5. Coaches are also encouraged to review the information and material available on USA Diving’sConcussion Resources page, which includes information on symptoms to watch for, action plans and information sheets that coaches may wish to distribute to athletes and their parents.

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