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It’s fall, it’s football season and it’s the time of year when most of the United States is more aware about the issues and dangers related to head trauma in sport. However, for many of us who work in fields dealing with traumatic brain injury, or for those who have been personally impacted by TBI, these issues are always at the forefront of our thoughts and actions.

At the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center, we continue to research the problems surrounding TBI to identify evidence-based approaches to the prevention, evaluation and management of these injuries. Our mission is to improve the prevention, evaluation, management, and rehabilitation of sport-related traumatic brain injuries through research, education, and clinical practice. We strive to do this each day through our engagement in research, education and service, as well as through our work with collaborators in other disciplines working to address concussion-related problems. Currently, we have many initiatives underway aimed at achieving these very things including: longitudinal studies of concussion outcomes among athletes across the lifespan, biomechanical and behavior change studies of concussion in both the high school and collegiate settings, studies of concussion in children in the community practice setting and studies aimed at better understanding knowledge, attitudes and behaviors concerning concussion.

While there are many ongoing activities, we have learned that these initiatives cannot be taken on in an isolated and independent fashion. One of the keys to continuing to work towards better concussion prevention and care is teamwork. Since many of the issues concerning sports safety are societal in nature, incorporating a variety of voices and expertise is essential. This, however, not only includes experts and medical professionals, but other stakeholders such as families, the athletes themselves, officials, sports leagues, community organizations and leaders in the community. While involving so many individuals is daunting, it provides a more realistic understanding of needs, as well as the feasibility of launching and incorporating both community programs and research programs aimed at preventing and better managing injuries in sport. Most importantly, this approach allows the programs and the research to be driven by the individuals that will be most affected and involved, leading to better sustainability and hopefully improved outcomes for all involved.

So as we move through another academic year, we hope we all continue to remember that TBIs occur in many settings and it takes a village to gain a better understanding of these injuries and most importantly to find the most effective and sustainable ways to improve injury prevention and care.

For more information about the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related TBI Research Center, please visit: tbicenter.unc.edu. You can also personally reach Dr. Register-Mihalik at johnakay@email.unc.edu.