Concussions: When in doubt, sit ’em out!

Pop Warner CoachesI’ve never seen so many big, bald dudes in one room at the same time. Yes—these are my people.

But seriously… the event Sunday, July 21 was extremely important and the VMC Foundation is proud to have helped make it happen. 700 Pop Warner Football and Cheer coaches from around California assembled in San Jose to learn about spotting, preventing and treating concussions.

And they learned from our experts,  Valley Medical Center’s specialists:  Henry Huie, MD, Associate Chief of Physical Medicine & Rehab; Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner, PhD, Director of the Rehab Research Center; Gaurav Abbi, MD,  Chief of Spine Service, Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery and Kimberly Archie, CEO of the Cheer Safety Foundation. The theme of the day relates to ANY indication that a young athlete may have sustained a concussion on the field: When in doubt, sit ‘em out! (and then follow very specific protocols to assess and get treatment for an injury, of course).

You might be thinking: So how did a huge group of huge tough guys take hearing from brainiac doctors in suits? This, from Don Preble, President of Almaden Pop Warner and co-planner of the conference: “I can’t begin to tell you all just how spectacular this presentation was. Never in the 14 years I have been involved with Pop Warner have I seen 500 Football coaches sitting on the edge of their seats and listening with enthusiastic anticipation for the next piece of information.”

The coaches also heard from Chris Bauerle, a former patient of VMC’s Rehab Center. His own story of a life-threatening brain injury on the football field is frankly WAY more compelling. Chris is also a member of our peer support team at VMC, helping people with new injuries.  As if that weren’t enough star-power, we had Dan Garza, MD, team doctor for the 49’ers and Jon Butler, National President of Pop Warner who both flew out for the conference and supported the teachings.

The media was all over this event, as we’ve heard so much more lately about the tragic results of concussions leading to long-term disabilities—from the NFL on down. Of course, it’s not just football and cheerleading either, and we’re confident that this awareness will only grow.

If your employer blocks video, you can also see this great article from the Mercury News on the event. A huge thanks to Don, Laura, Stephanie, Henry, PRx and everyone who helped make young athletes safer.

Teaming up with the Sharks Foundation (again!)

SAP-Sharks Bike Build Photo

Erik Bue and Cynthia Lam assemble a new bike as Sharkie looks on following a ceremony to unveil the newly renamed SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. The SAP Center name replaces HP Pavilion, home of the San Jose Sharks. The unveiling ceremony was followed by a volunteer bike-building event to benefit underprivileged families.

You probably have heard that the big arena downtown has a new name: The SAP Center. The home of the San Jose Sharks unveiled the name in a huge media event yesterday that included the VMC Foundation!

Our hugely inspiring program, Turning Wheels for Kids, was there to lead a “bike build” with a team of volunteers along with the San Jose Sharks Foundation. The Sharks Foundation has been a great partner of the VMC Foundation for years–if you missed the announcement about the Sharks Pediatric Center at VHC Tully, we have it saved for you here.

And, if you’d like to see more about yesterday’s Bike Build, which provided 150 new bikes to kids in underprivileged families, the Mercury News took some cool pictures. We even had a mention in the Wall Street Journal…not bad for a program that, just a few years ago, produced just forty bikes in a year for children (we’re giving away thousands now.)

Led by the amazing Sue Runsvold, RN, Valley Medical Center’s own, Turning Wheels rocks!