In recognition of April as Youth Sports Safety Month, MomsTeam asked 30 experts in 2012 to write a blog answering two questions: first, how or why did they get into their field, and second, how they have made a difference in the life of a youth athlete in the past year.
This year, we are reprising some of the those still timely blog posts (if you didn't see them then, they are, as the saying goes, new to you), and sprinkling in some new ones. Today, we hear again from Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, Ph.D, the Director of the Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey, MomsTeam.com's youth sports concussion neuropsychologist, and a leading expert on research on computerized neurocognitive testing and the need for cognitive rest after concussion.
Why did I get into my field?
As a board-certified neuropsychologist, I have been treating brain injury and concussions for over 25 years, but became especially active in youth sports concussion in the 1990s, when the NFL began a concussion program of baseline and post-concussion neurocognitive testing for their athletes. As a neuropsychologist (brain-behavior specialist), and as a mother of a very athletically active young boy, it became my mission to protect youth brains and to provide youth athletes with at least the same level of services our pro athletes were receiving.
Since then, I have published extensively in the area of youth sports concussion and I provide services to numerous professional and youth teams, as well as manage and treat youth concussion at the Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey. My commitment to research, legislative advocacy, and public education also keeps me busy outside of the office.
Many health care professionals, school and athletic personnel, parents, and athletes are still unaware or confused about what concussion is, how to identify it, and what to do.
How I made a difference in a young athlete's life
A female teen basketball player who had been a top academic student and leader at her school was brought to our Center because she had suffered at least four concussions over a period of 13 months. She was experiencing emotional problems, and getting in trouble in school both behaviorally and academically. The school and her doctors attributed these new problems to adolescent adjustment and sent her for psychiatric treatment and placed her on psychotropic medication due to significant anxiety.
What the school,her doctors, and her parents didn't realize was that these problems may have been associated with the series of concussions, so she never received academic accommodations at school while her brain was trying to heal, she had not been placed on the significant period of cognitive and physical rest she needed (she continued to return to sports which only resulted in additional concussions). Her parents were at their wits' end and wanted their old daughter back again. They happened to be referred to me by another parent of an athlete who had suffered a concussion, whom I had treated.
Through concussion education, application of a comprehensive two week rest period, academic accommodations, and monitoring with cognitive testing, her condition improved dramatically and she was on her way to resuming her previous academic and emotional status. Her parents felt that they got their "daughter back again."
Dr. Moser is a licensed psychologist, certified school psychologist, and board certified neuropsychologist and rehabilitation psychologist, She received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, where she also served on the faculty.
She is a fellow of the National Academy of Neuropsychology and of the American Psychological Association, and a Diplomate of the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology and the American Board of Professional Psychology.
Dr. Moser's book, Ahead of the Game: The Parents' Guide to Youth Sports Concussion, was published in May 2012 by the Dartmouth College Press/UPNE.