College of Health Sciences

West Chester University

Dr. Linda Adams, Dean
Sturzebecker Health Sciences Center
West Chester, PA 19383

Brain Health Logo

West Chester University
College of Health Sciences

April 24-25, 2015

Concussion is not just a matter for athletes and their families. Brain injury and rehabilitation has become a matter of national interest, as we watch the devastating effects that continue to play out in the media. There exists a greater understanding now, about the need for extended and specialized rehabilitation. Expanded research into the area of brain plasticity has lead to more comprehensive care and better outcomes for those affected.

Act 48 Credit Pending



Friday, April 24 Keynote Address
Asplundh Concert Hall, West Chester University
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm

The Art & Science of Concussion:
Translating Data into Concussion Prevention

Sport and recreational related concussion is one of the most complex injuries facing parents, coaches, administrators and clinicians responsible for keeping kids physically active, yet safe. There are many pieces to the concussion puzzle, and research over the past 15 years has helped advance the science around concussion prevention and management. This presentation will summarize some of the facts and fallacies about concussion, and will provide insight about how community and school-based based interventions can improve safety in sport at all levels of play.

Dr. Margot Putukian, Director of Athletic Medicine and Head Team Physician at Princeton University.  She received her B.S. degree from Yale University, and her M.D. from Boston University.  She is board certified in Internal Medicine and Sports Medicine.  Margot is a past president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM), and is a Team Physician for US Soccer as well as the US Men's Lacrosse Team.  Dr. Putukian has been an author and co-author on several articles, including the NATA & AMSSM Position Statements on Concussion, several Team Physician Consensus Statements and the two most recent Zurich International Concussion Conferences.  She is on the NCAA Task Force on Concussion, the US Soccer Concussion Committee, chairs the US Lacrosse Sport Science & Safety Committee and serves on the USA Football Medical Advisory Committee.  Margot is a medical consultant to Major League Soccer and also currently serves on the NFL's Head, Neck & Spine Committee, chairing the Return to Play Committee. 


Saturday, April 25 Conference
WCU Graduate Center, West Chester
8:30am - 4:30 pm

Sorry, Registration is Closed for this Event

Concussion Signs and Symptoms:
Timely recognition and intervention to protect the athlete

This presentation will focus on very basic concussion injury pathology and collision-related impact dynamics. Special attention will be given to identifying the signs and symptoms associated with mild traumatic brain injury so that the lay person may recognize when an athlete is demonstrating these injury markers post participation.  In turn, this knowledge may protect those undiagnosed after suffering a concussion and provide earlier access to proper medical evaluation and follow-up care.

Dr. David Stearne is Associate Professor in Department of Kinesiology, teaching Biomechanics and Kinetic Anatomy in the Exercise Science Division.  He is Graduate Coordinator for MS in Exercise & Sport Physiology at WCU and Affiliated Research Faculty at Temple University. His research is on landing mechanics and ACL injury risk, as well as concussion evaluation and recovery.  Dr. Stearne has authored numerous refereed journal publications, reviews for Journal of Athletic Training, Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, and British Journal of Sports Medicine, and has been Associate Editor for Temple University Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine.

Material contribution: Tracey Covassin, PhD, ATC. Dr. Covassin is Associate Professor and certified athletic trainer at Michigan State University in the Departments of Kinesiology and Intercollegiate Athletics. Her research includes sex and age-related concussion outcomes, neurocognitive impairments, and issues associated with multiple concussions. She currently directs a multi-site high school and college sport-concussion outreach program in Mid-Michigan, and is funded as principal investigator from the National Operating Committee of Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), NFL Charities, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2014, Dr. Covassin was invited to the White House for President Obama’s Healthy Kids & Safety Sports Concussion Summit, and in February 2015 was invited to speak at Fort Carson for the Defense Center of Excellence of Psychological and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Concussion & Return to Learn:
School Strategies & Symptom-Based Accommodations

Nationally, Pennsylvania’s BrainSTEPS Return to Learn (RTL) Concussion Management Team school based model is leading the way by demonstrating consistent approaches to managing student concussion in the classroom. Regardless of student age (K-postsecondary), student athletes are students first. Therefore, return to school and learning should be emphasized prior to return to sports. The first portion of the workshop will concentrate on return to school management and the importance of consistent academic adjustments that should occur early in recovery during the acute phase. The second half will focus on keeping students as actively engaged at school as possible throughout recovery by utilizing academic accommodations, monitored over time, maintaining the delicate balance between the need for cognitive rest while focusing on new learning. Attendees will also be provided with ideas for managing student concussion symptoms that impact academics beyond 4 weeks while promoting recovery, symptom resolution, and learning. Discussion of Pennsylvania’s 840+ BrainSTEPS Return to Learn Concussion Management Teams will also be included.

Brenda Eagan Brown, MEd, CBIS is the statewide Program Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Brain Injury School Re-Entry Consulting Program called BrainSTEPS, which is jointly funded by the PA Dept. of Health and the PA Dept of Education, BSE. She is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist, serves on the Brain Injury Association of America’s Pediatric Task Force, PA State Pediatric Brain Injury Task Force, National Collaborative Regarding Children with Brain Injury, and international board of directors for the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation. She was also chosen to present for the Obama appointed Institute of Medicine/National Research Council committee who is compiling a comprehensive federal report regarding youth concussions to guide federal/state agencies and policies.

Effects of Aging and Disease
Processes on Communication

Communication and Cognition are critical skills for people of all ages, and like other motor functions, deteriorate with age. The process of aging and communication problems can be looked upon as a spectrum where one end of the continuum represents elderly with no communication problems and the other end represents individuals with disabilities (e.g. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease). This talk will shed light on aspects of healthy aging and impairment specifically focusing on speech, language and cognitive changes.

Dr. Jeanette Benigas is an Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at West Chester University.  Her clinical experience as a speech-language pathologist has included work with pediatrics in the private practice and school setting and with adults in the post-acute, long term care and home health settings. Jeanette’s experience with adults contributes to her research interests, which involve improving quality of life for persons with dementia, specifically for those who have eating and swallowing impairments.  Her research has focused on evaluating reading comprehension abilities in people with dementia for use of visual aids and using Spaced Retrieval to teach swallowing strategies to avoid unwanted dietary modifications.  Jeanette received her B.A. in Speech-Language Pathology from The University of Toledo, her M.A. from Eastern Michigan University in Speech-Language Pathology, and completed a specialization certificate in aging and Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Science from The Ohio State University. 

Dr. Supraja Anand earned her B.S. and M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysore, India. She received her Ph.D from University of Florida in December 2013. Upon completion of her doctoral studies, she worked briefly (January-April 2014) as a post- doctoral associate in the Sensorimotor Rehabilitation Engineering lab, Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, Boston University. Her primary research interests include evaluation of effects of aging on speech production, effects of task complexity on acoustic characteristics of speech in individuals with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) and speech staging in individuals with PD.

Dietary and Lifestyle Approaches
For Optimizing Brain Health

In this seminar we will cover dietary and lifestyle factors that contribute to maintaining and improving brain health throughout the adult years. From this session you will gain a greater understanding of facts vs myths about nutrition and the aging brain.  This will provide you with an opportunity to develop a personal plan for optimizing your cognitive potential.

Dr. Patricia Davidson is an Assistant Professor in the College of Health Sciences, Department of Nutrition at West Chester University-PA.  She has nearly 30 years of experience as a clinician, researcher, and educator. Along with her research and teaching she has held a variety of clinical positions ranging from in-patient, private practice, and community diabetes education outreach. Her research interests include presentations and publications in the areas of the prevention and management of diabetes, applications of technology in chronic disease management, and the medical home model.

Dr. Janet Lacey has been a faculty member in the Dept. of Nutrition at West Chester University for the past 15 years. In the 1980’s she helped to develop osteoporosis research and prevention programs in Japan. Formerly a research administrator in the Laboratory for Surgical Metabolism and Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, she also taught in the Department of Nutrition at Simmons College and provided weight-loss programs and counseling for morbidly obese patients at Boston Medical Center.  Her recent research has focused on mineral nutrition and vegetarian diets.  Dr. Lacey teaches macro- and micronutrients, food science, and a workshop on Food for Mind and Spirit.