When Playing Sports is Bad For Your Brain – Dorothy Kozlowski, Jeffrey Mjaanes, and Peggy Mason

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at Northwestern Baldwin Auditorium

Brain injuries are in the news a lot these days. The NFL has been involved in a number of lawsuits involving traumatic brain injuries among players. Research suggests that as many as 1 in 3 professional football players could develop symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy as the result of concussions sustained during their careers. These injuries are not limited to football players – hockey, boxing, rugby, and soccer all carry their own risks of permanent brain injury.

It is no secret that playing sports can be dangerous, but many people are driven to play by their love of the game, and many more people enjoy watching sports. It may not be reasonable to expect people not to play sports that they love, but how the dangers of these activities be mitigated? In this program, a neuroscience researcher and an orthopedic physician will discuss the dangers, prevention and treatment of sports-related traumatic brain injuries.

Dorothy Kozlowski received her PhD in Psychology from the University of Texas-Austin. She completed postdoctoral fellowships in the Department of Neurosurgery at UCLA and in the Neurobiology program at Children’s Memorial Hospital/ Northwestern University prior to joining the faculty at DePaul in 2000. She is currently a Vincent de Paul Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. She is the recipient of a DePaul Excellence in Teaching Award as well as an “Educator of the Year” award from the national Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience. Her research focuses on understanding how the brain changes after a traumatic brain injury and how neural plasticity and rehabilitation can be used as treatment strategies. In addition to research on brain injury, she and her students work to educate youth on concussions and playing sports safely.

Jeffrey Mjaanes is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Orthopedic Surgery and Pediatrics at Rush University Medical Center. In practice, he sees sports injuries in patients of all ages, from children and adolescents to adults, recreational to elite, including high-level college and professional athletes. Dr. Mjaanes sees young athletes from all sports including many local gymnastics, wrestling, soccer and football clubs. He has worked with dancers and performers in local productions, including Broadway in Chicago shows such as Billy Elliot, Shrek, and others. At the collegiate level, Dr. Mjaanes serves as a head physician for the DePaul University Blue Demons. At the professional level, he has been one of the team physicians for the United States Soccer Federation for eight years. Dr. Mjaanes currently serves as medical director of the Chicago Sports Concussion Clinic at Rush. One of his primary areas of interest in research is prevention and treatment of sports-related concussion and traumatic brain injuries.

MODERATOR: Peggy Mason, PhD is a Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Chicago. She received both her BA in Biology and her PhD in Neuroscience from Harvard. Mason has been on the faculty of University of Chicago since 1992 She wrote a single-author textbook designed for medical students (Medical Neurobiology, Oxford University Press, 2011). Professor Mason’s research focuses on the neurobiological basis of empathy and helping.

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