Inaugural Concussion Awareness Day at HealthStreet
By Nicki Karimipour
The Athlete Brain Team held their first Concussion Awareness Day this past Saturday, August 25 from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. The location for the event was held at HealthStreet, a “community-based effort that works every day to reduce disparities in healthcare and research by linking the medically underserved to medical and social services,” according to their website.
In addition to directing Alachua County residents to medical and social service resources, HealthStreet also links the public with research opportunities like clinical trials. Led by Dr. Linda Cottler, HealthStreet had its grand opening in November of 2011 at the University of Florida’s East Campus, located on Waldo Road. Dr. Cottler, a professor and founding chair of the Department of Epidemiology, brings with her years of experience with community-based health models. Dr. Cottler began the model by implementing it first at Washington University in St. Louis. The basis for this model consists of concept called a “Sentinel Network,” where various sites around the country share the common goal of understanding health concerns of underrepresented groups. Another goal of the HealthStreet related model is to build a level of trust between the public and the research community. This is accomplished by recruiting potential research participants from places such as barbershops, beauty shops, parks, shelters, bus stops, community agencies, churches, neighborhood associations, health care facilities, sports venues, grocery stores, laundromats, nail salons, fitness centers, colleges, gas stations, check cashing venues, health fairs.
“The UF College of Public Health and Health Professionals has an award called ‘Bridging the Gap,’ which seeks to bridge the gap between public health and health professions,” said Noni Graham, Project Manager at HealthStreet. “We had some of students from the Epidemiology Department and some students from Clinical and Health Psychology apply. They won the award, and we now have two students from Epidemiology and two students from Clinical and Health Psychology who are in charge of this initiative and have recruited a lot of student volunteers—undergraduate and graduate students—because this is a research interest. Due to the fact that sports are such a big topic of interest anywhere, especially at the collegiate level, they just want to raise awareness in the community. It’s important to keep people informed, so that they can recognize the signs and symptoms and they know what to do and not to do. We want people to make educated choices when they are participating in sports, and inform their families as well.”
The inaugural Concussion Awareness Day featured games, giveaways, food, and education outreach. This event has activities geared toward every age group, but especially to youth who may be participating in sports or other athletic endeavors.
“We really need to increase knowledge on the parents’ behalf, because they are in the best position to recognize the symptoms in their kids, so having this Concussion Awareness Day exist as a regular event would gradually educate the public about these important topics,” said Dr. Russell Bauer, a professor in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology.
There has been an interested in continuing Concussion Awareness Day events at the HealthStreet location, set to occur on a monthly basis. These events are aimed at raising awareness about sports related concussions, and educating the public by providing them with more information in an interactive way.
HealthStreet is located at 2124 NE Waldo Road, Suite 1200. It is accessible via RTS bus routes 24 and 25. For more information, please call 352-294-4880.
Announcements will be made on the Athlete Brain website about the days and times of the next Concussion Awareness Day. Volunteer opportunities are available. If interested, please email email@example.com.