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Children's National and MedStar Team Up For Concussion Awareness in the District

Children’s National Health System and MedStar Sports Medicine are spearheading a first-of-its-kind concussion awareness and training pilot program, funded by the District of Columbia Department of Health, to develop sustainable strategies for the District’s Athletic Concussion Protection Act of 2011. The Act applies to athletes in the District of Columbia who are 18 years of age and younger, who participate in any athletic program in or out of school. The Act requires coaches, parents, and school personnel be trained in concussion recognition and response, which compels the athlete to be removed from the field or court following a suspected concussion, only to return to play after a healthcare provider experienced in concussion management provides written clearance to do so. 

Over the course of six months, Children’s National and MedStar Sports Medicine will provide education and training events for youth, student athletes, athletic program administrators, coaches, school nurses, teachers, and parents. The goal is to educate each group on how to identify a suspected concussion and when student athletes can return to school and play. Working with various government, school, parenting, and athletic organizations, the partners will continue to evaluate and improve concussion awareness, implement training programs, and help to develop and enforce the stipulations surrounding the Athletic Concussion Protection Act. 
Co-Principal Investigator and MedStar NRH’s Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer Michael R. Yochelson, MD, believes in the importance of detection, stating, “It is critical that everyone involved in youth athletics has the ability to recognize the signs  and symptoms associated with concussion in order to remove student athletes  from play if a concussion is suspected.” 

“Traumatic brain injuries affect millions of young athletes annually,” says grant lead, Children’s National Spokesperson, and Co-Principal Investigator Gerard Gioia, PhD. “By educating and working with the community to identify a concussion and manage it, we can ensure that our children have the greatest potential to succeed not just on the playing field but at school and the other aspects of their lives.” The partnership between Children’s National and MedStar Sports Medicine is an important one, as both organizations bring significant expertise and resources for the protection of student athletes from the effects of concussion.

While the first of a series of train the trainer events began today, June 18, the beginning of the grant’s activities began on May 11, 2015, when the grant leaders sponsored the event “Scholar Athletes to Successful Leaders,” at The City Club of Washington, DC. Shireen Atabaki, MD, MPH, from Children’s National presented the Concussion Care & Training Program. During her presentation, she emphasized the fact that the District of Columbia is the first jurisdiction to fund training and public awareness for Athletic Concussion Protection. This initiative will focus on underserved student athletes who are the most vulnerable. The day-long forum brought together District school athletic teams and DC Council Members, where they discussed various topics including workforce development, health, wellness, and concussions. 

“The District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) believes that establishing a pilot concussion program to support the Athletic Concussion Protection Act will help pave a national pathway for other states nationwide, as concussions affect young athletes everywhere. This is part of Mayor Bowser’s mandate to improve the health and wellness of the residents of our city,” notes DOH Director, LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, MD, MPH.

Although estimates of mild traumatic brain injuries, or concussions, are unclear at this time, well over 1 million are believed to occur annually among student athletes, making it a serious public health issue in the United States. 

About MedStar Health
MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit

About MedStar Sports Medicine
MedStar Sports Medicine, an initiative integrated throughout MedStar Health, is one of the premier sports medicine programs in the country. Over the past 30 years, MedStar Sports Medicine has grown to include more than 36 physicians, 23 certified athletic trainers and a network of therapists, nutritionists, and support staff at MedStar’s ten hospitals and diversified services. Focused on patient care, education, research and team relationships, this network of medical professionals is dedicated to enhancing the health and performance of all active people. More than 40 sports organizations, including the Washington Nationals, Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, Chesapeake Bayhawks, Baltimore Blast, and US Lacrosse, have chosen MedStar Sports Medicine as their official medical team. Visit us at, or call 888-44-SPORT (888-447-7678).

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