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SUNY Research Aims to Reduce Impact of Concussions



Research aims to reduce impact of concussions

It’s football season again and thousands of athletes are suiting up across the nation to play one of the most popular sports in America. From recreational leagues to high school and college teams to professional-level organizations, the sport is played in varying intensities but with one very real danger: concussions. In fact, in the season opener for the New York Giants, starting cornerback Prince Amukamara was sidelined because of a concussion.

According to the Upstate Concussion Center at the Institute for Human Performance of SUNY Upstate Medical University, a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that occurs when the normal functioning of the brain is disrupted by a blow or jolt to the head.

So that SUNY can best protect its student-athletes and continue to reach out to younger students, its two concussion research centers, at SUNY Upstate Medical University and the University at Buffalo’s Concussion Clinic, actively investigate concussions and concussion-related illnesses. Acute awareness in order to teach others of the danger is part of the mission.

NY Giant's cornerback Prince Amukamara is hit in the game against Dallas Cowboys, leading to a concussion

NY Giant’s cornerback Prince Amukamara is hit in the season opening game against the Dallas Cowboys, leading to a concussion. (Photo courtesy Richard W. Rodriguez/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

Research increasingly shows the lasting negative effects of a concussion on a person’s brain. This has triggered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to now recognize sports concussion as a significant public health issue and the National Football League to invest tens of millions of dollars into concussion research.

Playing football is not the only way to get a concussion—nor is playing the sport an imminent danger. However, the nature of the sport (heavy and sudden contact) lends more risk than other sports, like soccer or baseball. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the likelihood for suffering a concussion while playing a contact sport is estimated to be as high as 19% per year of play.

Prince Amukamara’s concussion could come at no surprise; in fact, Amukamara’s chance of getting a concussion, if this were his first ever, is over 200%. By using a conservative 15% risk (19%, above), we can reasonably expect that the chance of suffering a concussion at any point of playing a contact sport, like football, is:

  • 75% – An 11th grader in high school who has played football since 6th grade.
  • 135% – A red-shirt freshman in college who has played since 6th grade.
  • 165% – A senior in college who played four years of collegiate football and started in 6th grade.
  • 217.5% – A NFL player, drafted directly from college, who has played the average number of professional seasons (3.5) and started in 6th grade.

It is important to note three potential variances with these odds. First, they are merely estimations. Although we use conservative risk, the intensities of play vary by age, location, position, and regulations. Furthermore, the risk of an NFL player may be greater than, say, a high school player because of the intensity of play. Finally, a player who participates in high-level collegiate or professional play will have likely started much earlier than sixth grade.

To compound the risk for committed players, according to the Association, the chances of being subjected to a concussion in football is three to six times higher in players who have had a previous concussion.

According to Brian Rieger, Ph.D., a SUNY Upstate psychologist specializing in concussion and brain injury:

There is no such thing as a mild concussion. While the immediate symptoms of a concussion resolve quickly, some cases can pose significant health risks. Concussion sufferers can have lingering problems with memory, emotion and other cognitive functions. The best way to prevent a concussion is to wear protective equipment and to avoid high-risk situations. Once an athlete has a concussion, efforts shift to minimizing the chances of long-term problems through proper management of the injury.

Tracking and scanning subjects and performance is only half of the equation, however. The fact that a concussion happens in the first place implies that physical contact has been made. With increased protection and by taking preventative measures, players may avoid the concussion altogether.

Part of the tens of millions of dollars that the National Football League has invested in research is to develop safer helmets and other protective gear so that players like Amukamara may be best protected. Major League Baseball has also recently headed calls to protect its players more and the National Hockey League is under constant pressure to provide more relief, especially following Sidney Crosby’s repeated concussions and foreseen early retirement because of it.


Maxwell Morgan

Written by Maxwell Morgan

Maxwell was a Coordinator of Digital Engagement for The State University of New York.

September 9, 2013

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Mascot Madness Champion, Hugo the Hawk, Speaks on His Victory and Getting Back to Work




SUNY Mascot Madness winner - Hugo Hawk from New PaltzThe first ever SUNY Mascot Madness came to a close yesterday with over 300,000 votes cast over the entire competition.  In a race that was too close to call initially, Hugo the Hawk from New Paltz was declared the winner of the first SUNY Mascot Madness over Wolfie the Seawolf from Stony Brook.  In a race to the finish, he met the library dean, cleaned the campus, and hung out with many students on campus.

We were able to catch up with Hugo and get his thoughts on the final round of the competition.

What responsibilities do you carry as SUNY Mascot Madness 2013 Champion?  What’s next for you?

As the SUNY Mascot Madness 2013 Champion, it is my duty to represent all that this title stands for. I will continue being the best mascot I can possibly be and keep getting better at it each day.

What will you do with all of your free time once SUNY Mascot Madness 2013 is complete?

With this free time I will get back to the basics. I will work on my cheers and dances and keep myself in tip-top shape for all the teams I root for. I will work hard to earn my place in next year’s tournament and make sure I do my best to defend my crown.


And we look forward to next year’s competition with you Hugo!

Hugo Hawk with Mascot Madness championship trophy

Emily Schwartz

Written by Emily Schwartz

Emily Schwartz is the Coordinator of Open SUNY Communication and Projects.

April 5, 2013

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Bobby Hurley Named University at Buffalo Men’s Basketball Head Coach




Bobby Hurley has been named the 12th head men's basketball coach at the University at Buffalo.

Bobby Hurley has been named the 12th head men’s basketball coach at the University at Buffalo.

Bobby Hurley, one of the most iconic figures in college basketball history, has been named the 12th head men’s basketball coach at the University at Buffalo.

He joins UB from the University of Rhode Island, where he has been serving as associate head coach. He was hired as an assistant coach at Wagner College in 2010, and spent two seasons with the Seahawks, playing a critical role in rebuilding the men’s basketball team. He helped lead Wagner to a 25-6 record during the 2011-12 season – its best record in school history – before joining Rhode Island.

A first-team All-American in 1993, Hurley is best remembered for being the point guard at Duke. Hurley helped lead the Blue Devils to three Final Four appearances and consecutive national championships in 1991 and 1992. Hurley still holds the NCAA record for career assists with 1,076.

Following his outstanding career at Duke, Hurley was selected by the Sacramento Kings with the seventh pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. He went on to play five years in the NBA with the Kings and Vancouver Grizzlies.

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SUNY Oneonta Senior Sets Off on 4,200-Mile Cross-Country Bike Adventure




Jayme Haynes biking in Central Bridge on her cross country adventure

Jami Haynes sets off from her home in Central Bridge, NY, on Tuesday, May 28.

SUNY Oneonta senior Jami Haynes set off on a 4,200-mile, cross-country bike adventure today with the goal of raising awareness about the Harvest of Hope Foundation, an organization that provides emergency assistance to migrant workers and their families. Haynes, 21, accompanied by her boyfriend and sister, left early Tuesday morning from her home in Central Bridge, N.Y.

An avid runner and hiker, Haynes got the idea for the “Miles for Migrants” bike tour after Harvest of Hope founder and President Phil Kellerman visited one of her education classes, taught by Madeline Berry, this past semester. Her 20-year-old sister, Jena, signed on for the adventure, and then her boyfriend, Caleb Grippin, 23, joined the team.

Jena Haynes, Caleb Grippin, Jami Haynes with bikes

SUNY Oneonta student Jami Haynes (right) with her sister, Jena, and boyfriend, Caleb Grippin.

“I wasn’t very familiar with what a migrant farm worker was and how they contributed to American society, and I was especially touched as a future educator by the support that Harvest of Hope gives to these families and the scholarships that the foundation provides,” Haynes said.

The class did a service-learning project to benefit Harvest of Hope, and Haynes kept the momentum going. She and her sister organized a spaghetti supper, several bake sales and a raffle, as well as giving presentations about Harvest of Hope on campus and in the community. “Spreading awareness of the foundation and how it helps migrant farm workers has been extremely rewarding,” Haynes said. “The community definitely knows a lot more about the contributions of migrant workers because of this project.”

Haynes hopes to continue raising awareness by meeting with media outlets during her journey. The trio plans to ride about 60 to 80 miles per day, camping and staying with friends and family members en route to San Francisco. They have been training for the trip for about three months, logging several hundred miles of short and long rides.

The Harvest of Hope Foundation was established in 1997, when Kellerman worked at ESCORT, a migrant education resource center based at SUNY Oneonta. In addition to its affiliation with ESCORT, SUNY Oneonta has operated a College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) since 2001. Created in 1972, CAMP is a federally-funded scholarship program that helps students from migrant and seasonal farm-working families pursue higher education.

ESCORT senior programmer analyst Bob Thomas, a friend of Kellerman’s, loaned Haynes and her crew three touring bikes and trailers. Thomas, who completed a cross-country bicycling trip himself back in 1976, was on hand for the send-off Tuesday, offering last-minute tips and advice.

An elementary education major with a concentration in social studies, Haynes will share experiences from her trip this fall as a student teacher at Cobleskill Elementary School.

She will also chronicle her adventures throughout the 11-week journey on the blog:


SUNY Oneonta

May 28, 2013

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