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By Ron Churchill

With all the talk about head injuries to athletes in the mainstream media lately, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center is taking action to provide training and treatment for sports-related concussions.

Recent publicity has been given to prominent athletes who have suffered concussions -- including hockey stars such as Nathan Gerbe of the Buffalo Sabres and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins -- and has raised awareness of just how serious these head injuries can be.

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and UB Orthopedics &amp; Sports Medicine of Niagara have implemented ImPACT, the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing program.

At Memorial's Summit Healthplex on Williams Road in Wheatfield, the office provides the athletic training and sports medicine services for a number of local athletic programs, including the Niagara Falls, Niagara-Wheatfield, North Tonawanda, and Grand Island school districts, along with Niagara County Community College, NFMMC spokesman Pat Bradley said.

Developed in the early 1990s by Drs. Mark Lovell and Joseph Maroon, ImPACT is a 20-minute test that has become a standard tool in comprehensive clinical management of concussions for athletes of all skill levels from youth sports to the professional ranks. It is the most widely used computer-based concussion testing program in the world.

"ImPACT brings the concussion clinic at our Summit Healthplex office in Wheatfield to a whole new level," said Anthony Surace, M.Ed., A.T.C., Memorial's director of sports medicine. "It is an objective tool that helps us determine the safe return to play for the athletes we treat."

"Niagara Falls Memorial's partnership with UB Orthopedics & Sports Medicine allows us to offer the most advanced athletic training and sports medicine program in the region," said Medical Center President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo. "One of the jewels of that program is its concussion clinic, which is directed by sports medicine specialist Dr. Scott Darling. The concussion management program that Dr. Darling, Tony Surace and their team are implementing is a great addition that will benefit athletes of all ages and skill levels."

The program was developed by ImPACT Applications, Inc., which was co-founded by Mark Lovell, Ph.D., Joseph Maroon, M.D., and Michael Collins, Ph.D. of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The program takes about 20 minutes to complete and measures multiple aspects of cognitive functioning in athletes, including:

"The focus at our concussion clinic is on concussion education and prevention," Surace said.

"Nonetheless, concussions are common in sports and ImPACT is a valuable tool that will help us diagnose them when they occur and ensure a safe return to play for athletes who suffer them," he said.

"These are like the best of the best in Western New York," Bradley said of the ImPACT team of doctors and trainers.

For information, call UB Orthopedics & Sports Medicine of Niagara at (716) 304-6585 or visit www.Impacttest.com.

E-mail Ron Churchill at ronchurchill@yahoo.com.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Jan. 24 2012