Thursday, July 21, 2011
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A generous donation to Mayo Clinic is contributing to a new program aimed at creating awareness of the serious nature of concussion and safeguarding the health of those athletes who do suffer a concussion.
The benefactors, John and Mary Karalis, have endowed a fund in honor of their son, Ted. The first donation from the J. Theodore Curtis Karalis Fund in Neurosciences Research is going to a Mayo Clinic baseline concussion testing program for all high school athletes in Arizona. The Fund was designated specifically for brain injury and regenerative medicine research.
Ted Karalis suffered a severe traumatic brain injury more than 20 years ago. He dedicated his remaining years, before his death in 2010, to maximizing his recovery, initially through months of therapy followed by a regimen of demanding weight training. Ted progressed inch by inch to graduate from ASU in 2002 and became a passionate advocate for exercise, particularly for the disabled.
"Ted kept extensive chronicles of his daily exercise sessions, along with brief comments and narratives on life in general," said John Karalis. "Among his writings he praised the role of exercise in his overall recovery by observing, 'I also believe that the mind and the body improve together... As my body got stronger, my grades improved along with my mental capabilities.'
"We were interested in leaving a legacy in Ted's honor to make the public more aware of the difficulties facing people with traumatic brain injuries," John continued. "We also hope to fund potential 'breakthrough' research that can lead to a quantum step forward in the recovery process."
David Dodick, M.D., a neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona and President of the American Headache Society, said that the gift to the concussion program is a first step.
"We are deeply honored and grateful to the Karalis family for their support," Dr. Dodick said. "This program will facilitate research which will undoubtedly provide insight into the fundamental biology of brain injury and ultimately, therapeutic strategies to enhance recovery and improved health outcomes. The Karalis family's generosity will help make this vision a reality."
The concussion program Mayo Clinic will make baseline concussion testing available at no cost to more than 100,000 high school student athletes in Arizona leading up to the 2011-2012 sports season.
Baseline concussion testing measures how the brain is working before injury. After a concussion, the test can be repeated multiple times, and doctors can then monitor the results of this test, along with a medical evaluation, to determine when athletes can safely resume normal activities — and in the case of a student athlete, when they can return to their sport.
Providing this baseline assessment will also create awareness about the importance of concussion and the importance of safeguarding the brain health of young athletes. Ultimately, according to Dr. Dodick, "this initiative will hopefully be a significant step toward having all youth and adults throughout our state who are involved in competitive or recreational sporting activities to establish a baseline concussion test."
For more information or to obtain access to take the computerized concussion test, student athletes, parents, coaches, athletic trainers and school athletic directors in Arizona can email email@example.com or visit online.
Journalists can become a member of the Mayo Clinic News Network for the latest health, science and research news and access to video, audio, text and graphic elements that can be downloaded or embedded.
Learn more about becoming a patient at Mayo Clinic in the Patient & Visitor Guide.