Kevin Guskiewicz, a researcher from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, has received a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in recognition of his work researching sports-related concussions and striving to improve athletes’ safety. Guskiewicz, along with 22 new fellows named by the MacArthur Foundation of Chicago, will receive $500,000 over the next five years. Guskiewicz plans to use the grant to continue his research into concussion injuries and sports and hopes to develop new concussion prevention strategies, as well as new rehabilitation protocols for concussion treatment.
This is important research that can benefit, not only pro athletes, but children and teenagers playing sports at school. Concussions are the most common traumatic brain injury that occurs each year. Research has shown that those who have suffered a concussion in the past are at a greater risk for another concussion in the future and children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults. Concussion symptoms must be taken seriously whenever they occur and prevention is key. According to The American Academy of Neurology, there is no such thing as a minor concussion and even if there is no loss of consciousness, permanent consequences can occur.
Guskiewicz first became concerned with concussion injuries and sports when he worked with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the early 1990s. While working as an athletic trainer, he started to see a growing number of athletes who suffered multiple concussions and later after retirement would show signs of the early onset of neurodegenerative changes, such as depression and dementia. It was this experience that helped motivate Guskiewicz to begin his innovative research.
Today, Guskiewicz advises the National Collegiate Athletic Association and National Football League on concussions and head, neck and spine injuries. His passion for helping athletes and improving safety standards makes him a well-deserved recipient of the MacArthur “genius grant”. Hopefully, with this new grant, he will be able to save more lives by preventing concussion injuries and rehabilitating athletes who have been affected by them.