Fresno State faculty will be among the panel of expert speakers at the third Central Valley Concussion Symposium that will focus on traumatic brain injuries and concussions in youth student-athletes.

The symposium, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, will be at the UCSF Fresno Medical Education and Research building (155 N. Fresno St.) on the campus of Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno.

“It is estimated that thousands of children in the Valley are affected by concussions, many of whom go undiagnosed, unidentified and/or untreated,” said Brenna Hughes, the team lead in acute speech-language pathology at Community Regional and organizer of the symposium. “It’s important that we take the most appropriate steps while their brains are still healing, otherwise this can lead to long-term problems including behavioral, emotional, psychological and cognitive issues.”

Designed for Central Valley health care professionals, educators, coaches, student-athletes and community members, the symposium will take an interdisciplinary approach to discussing diagnosis, education and treatment for patients with traumatic brain injury.

Fresno State faculty serving on panel at the Central Valley Concussion Symposium.

Dr. Nupur Hajela, assistant professor of physical therapy at Fresno State and director of rehabilitation technologies and outcomes research at the Central California Sports Science Institute, will talk about how the use of technology like video games, apps and virtual reality plays an important role in concussion evaluation, management and treatment.

She will cite her research on concussion management, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and in collaboration with the Blue Marble Health Co.

“Video games with tasks based on memory and visual perception skills are challenged by gameplay principles based on neuroscience and cognitive therapy,” Hajela said. “In virtual reality, the users have more immersive experience that allows motivated patients to exercise and work longer to get better, faster.”

Hajela is providing direct application of her research through the Bertec Balance Advantage, a virtual reality-based balance assessment system used in the Department of Physical Therapy.

Doctor of Physical Therapy students conduct research on the Bertec Balance Advantage.

Dr. Fran Pomaville, associate professor of speech-language pathology at Fresno State, will discuss ways to facilitate a successful transition back to school after a concussion.

 “Graduated return to learning and support in the classroom after a child sustains a concussion should actually come first, before return to play,” Hughes said.

Through the Department of Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies’ Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic, children who have experienced a concussion or brain injury can receive assessments and therapy treatment to help them function better on daily basis.

Dr. Scott Sailor, kinesiology chair and professor at Fresno State and president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, will discuss policies related to concussions at the high school, youth, college and professional levels.

The symposium is coordinated by the Central Valley Concussion Consortium, which is made up of more than 50 Valley health professionals, including physicians, nurses, physical therapists, athletic trainers, speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists.

Registration is $25 and can be completed online.

For more information, contact Rachel Vannoy at 559.459.5130.