PUCCS Gains Prominence Nationwide

August 25, 2013

Founded here in Western New York, the Program for Understanding Childhood Concussions, PUCCS, has raised the eyebrows of experts and organizations in other parts of the U.S. and even across the border in Canada.

Meanwhile, PUCCS is ramping up its efforts in this region, collaborating with the Buffalo Sabres to produce an educational video that, when finished in the fall and released on www.puccs.org, will illustrate how children can identify a concussion, advise people on what to do if they exhibit concussion-like symptoms, plus cover return-to-play protocol and other pertinent concussion-related information.

“The children in the Western New York community and beyond need to be educated about the severity of concussions,” said PUCCS founder and president Dr. Elad Levy, who is also professor and chairman of the neurosurgery department at the University at Buffalo. “The video will be accompanied by supplemental information to reinforce the information in the film and will also have a short quiz at the end to make sure the information has been understood by the viewer. We are grateful for the support of Cliff Benson, who offered up the talented production team of the Sabres, and the entire Sabres organization for helping to make this educational video possible.”

Participating in the video will be 20-year-old Zack Lystedt, who suffered a concussion in October 2006 when he was 13. After undergoing a bilateral craniotomy, he was in a coma for more than 30 days, with no movement or speech for nine months.

Since that trauma, Lystedt has been an advocate of concussion prevention and, with the help of his attorney, developed a first-in-the-nation legislation requiring written medical clearance following a concussion before returning to practice or game action.

The law, known as the “Lystedt Law,” has served as the model for legislation in 40 other states and has received the endorsement and support of the American College of Sports Medicine, American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and the National Football League.

The hard work of PUCCS has gained attention – and respect – outside of the Buffalo area. “PUCCS has created awareness throughout Western New York and won an award at a national brain injury conference in California for its accomplishments and because it serves as a positive steward of the community,” said Dr. Levy. “We have penetrated into Canada and have significantly created awareness about the importance of concussion education in schools.”

That national honor was the Richard Patterson Advocacy Award, presented at the Santa Clara Valley Brain Injury Conference. PUCCS won one of four awards given out at the conference and nominations had gone out to more than 50,000 individuals and organizations.And yet, for all the advancements in concussion recognition and research, Dr. Levy says there’s still a long way to go.

“We are learning that baseline testing may not be the best standard for detecting concussions, although it is better than using nothing at all,” Dr. Levy said. “We have learned that more accurate testing may involve structured physiological stress tests to attempt to replicate concussion symptoms. The funding we provide to concussion studies allows experts to better understand and develop the clinical tools necessary to help young athletes manage and recover from the effects of concussion and stroke.”

PUCCS will again be raising funds to continue research at their annual hockey tournament at Holiday Twin Rinks, which this year takes place November 29 through December 1.

This year, female youth teams will take part, and the senior team that faces the Buffalo Sabres Alumni in the marquee matchup will do so by winning the senior tournament, unlike previous years when the team that raised the most money got to skate against the former NHLers.

Article by Val Andrews, WNY Hockey Report