May 25, 2016
WHOMP! That was the sound the soccer ball made hitting my daughter’s face on a cold October morning. First there was a look of surprise, then a flood of tears. Just like that, my kid was absolutely done with soccer. She was five years old but there was no way we were getting her out on the field again. Ever. Luckily, she wasn’t really injured. In fact, we were lucky throughout her childhood that sports injuries weren’t anything we had to deal with – mainly because my daughter is not exactly an athlete. (By the way, she gave me permission to say that.)
We live in a pretty athletic school district so she tried to like sports, but she really wasn’t a fan. She tried softball. While she loved to hit, she took to picking dandelions out in the field. She tried out for volleyball, but only scored high on positive attitude. Everyone was joining track and she really wanted the shirt so she joined. Then promptly claimed she was going to be sick so she could stop running during the first meet. She is a demon on ice skates though – even as her father yells at her to protect her head if she falls.
Instead, she dove into other interests – the performing arts. I have to say, watching other parents sitting out at a soccer field in the rain while I made my way into a temperature-controlled auditorium; I was totally fine with her pursuits. Plus, it’s pretty hard to hurt yourself in an orchestra concert or musical. (Well, there was one time a sandbag fell from the ceiling, but I digress.) Like I said, we were lucky. She escaped childhood with nary a broken bone, stitch or concussion.
She was definitely one of the lucky kids. While sports can be a great activity for kids and adults, sports injuries come with the game. A lot of attention lately surrounds the problem of concussions in both professional sports and for kids. Concussions are nothing to mess with.
Joanne Gerstner is a sports-journalist-in-residence in the MSU School of Journalism who has covered concussions and sports neurology as a specialty for NPR and the New York Times. Recently, she was awarded a Jacobs Foundation Neuroscience Journalism Fellowship because of her work. She says, “The impact of concussions is changing the way we play and think about sports.” Read her FACULTY VOICE: Covering concussions, to learn more about her work.
One of my favorite things about working at MSU is discovering researchers and faculty members who take unique approaches toward solving challenging problems. I love that a journalist has chosen to use her area of expertise to explore a medical issue. Furthermore, she’s teaching tomorrow’s journalists about the power of the pen to examine important subjects.
The College of Human Medicine takes a unique approach to teaching students about underserved medical areas – it sends them directly out into them. Recently, as part of the Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved Certificate Program, medical students traveled to Peru to care for patients and experience international health care. Check out the STUDENT VIEW: Caring for the underserved, to see some great photos they took during their trip.
There are a staggering number of medical issues that our world faces and Spartans are looking for solutions every day. Just this week alone we’ve released stories about Spartan researchers filling the gap in autism services, detecting diabetes through dentistry, studying online threats to people with intellectual disabilities and gaining insights into the nervous system by studying electric fish. That’s just this week! Spartans never stop searching for ways to give people healthier tomorrows. They're always looking for a win. Spartans Will.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner