In an effort to promote awareness of brain injury and brain health, the University of Alabama will host more than 300 football student-athletes from state high schools March 31, as part of Brain Injury Awareness Month.
Organized by faculty members in the colleges of Human Environmental Sciences as well as Arts and Sciences and in partnership with the Alabama Life Research Institute and the UA Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, Brain Day will expose the students to campus athletic training and sports medicine facilities along with a tour of the MRI Research Facility.
Students and coaches will also have conversations and hear presentations about aspects of brain health such as concussion symptoms and recovery; the role of nutrition, exercise, and sleep in brain health; mental health awareness; and students’ roles in preventing brain injuries in themselves and teammates.
Coming from nine schools in six counties, Brain Day also provides exposure for career possibilities within athletic training, sports medicine, psychology, public health and communications.
“We really hope it’s a transformative experience for the kids attending and that this day on campus increases awareness and knowledge of opportunities on a college campus and all of the ways they can take ownership of their own health,” said Dr. Jessica Wallace, assistant professor of health science in the Athletic Training Program.
Wallace works with Dr. Courtney Helfrecht, assistant professor of anthropology, with the high schools in promoting concussion awareness and good nutrition as part of helping address inequities and inequalities in health, specifically in sports-related head injuries and access to care.
“Adolescence is a critical age when students are developing long-term health behaviors,” Helfrecht said. “They can’t control inequities, but they can control their behaviors. Brain Day is a way to get them accurate information that they can incorporate into their lifestyle so they are better prepared to deal with brain injuries.”
UA’s Brain Day is supported with a grant from the Dana Foundation as part of the national Brain Awareness Week along with several sponsors from campus including the Alabama Life Research Institute, College of Human Environmental Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, the UA Department of Anthropology, the Institute for Rural Health Research, the Supe Store and local businesses including Target, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Newk’s.