The Brain Injury Association of Illinois proudly honored Christopher Nowinski, Co-Founder and President of the Sports Legacy Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to solving the sports concussion crisis, with the 2010 James Brady Award. The award is given to the person or institution that has made significant contributions to improving the lives of persons with brain injury. The announcement came at the Awards Dinner of the 2010 Educational Conference of the BIAIL, sponsored by Nolan Law Group. Chris is also the Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encelphalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine, and serves on the NFL Players Association Mackey/White TBI Research Committee. He is also a member of the Brain Injury Association of America. A former Harvard football player and WWE professional wrestler, he was forced to retire due to a series of concussions in 2003. His challenging recovery from post-concussion syndrome led him to write the book, Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis, in an effort to educate parents, coaches, and children about this previously hidden public health issue. It is a great book and, I believe, a must-read for anyone interested in concussion in sports. His keynote presentation on Saturday morning drew many coaches, young athletes and parents as he explained concussion, signs and symptoms and when it is safe to return to the playing field. He also went over the strategies that must be in place if children are to safely play in athletic programs. Chris is a tireless advocate for concussion prevention in sports and richly deserves this honor.
Other award recipients included the “Make A Difference” Award to Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital for their leadership in development of a Sports Concussion Program, El Valor in Chicago for the outstanding programs and services to people with brain injury and other disabilities, and the Advocate Christ Hospital Brain Injury Rehabilitation Team for their educational efforts with patients and families as well as their work with the BIAIL to raise public awareness of brain injury.
In addition to Chris Nowinski’s presentation, the BIAIL Sports Concussion Clinic, sponsored by Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, featured Marianjoy’s Dr. Patrick Walsh, Director of Psychology and Coordinator of their Brain Injury Program, and Dr. Elizabeth Pieroth, neuropsychologist and Head Injury/Concussion Specialist for the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Blackhawks and Northwestern University Athletics.