Bay Area High School Athletes First in California to Receive Innovative Concussion Education Program from Dignity Health Concussion Network


SAN FRANCISCO – January 29, 2016 – Dignity Health, one of the nation's largest health systems, announced that in response to the estimated 300,000 concussions that high school athletes sustain nationally every year, Dignity Health's Barrow Neurological Institute and the Dignity Health Foundation are launching the Dignity Health Concussion Network, a first of its kind student athlete-focused approach to concussion education and prevention program, to the Bay Area. The project is being initiated with support from the San Francisco 49ers, the California Interscholastic Federation, and ImPACT.

Three Bay Area high schools - George Washington, Overfelt, and Berkeley - have been selected to receive Dignity Health Concussion Network's comprehensive concussion education, cognitive assessments, and pre-and-post concussion testing. In addition, 34 Bay Area high schools will receive training to launch the key educational tool of the Dignity Health Concussion Network, called Barrow Brainbook.

Barrow Brainbook is an online program created by neurologists at the Dignity Health Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. The interactive tool takes high school athletes through a series of educational activities and videos about concussions. At the end of the education module, the students are required to pass a formal exam before being cleared to play. The exam distinguishes this education program from any other in the United States. The Barrow Brainbook was first introduced in Arizona in 2011, making it the first mandatory education module for all high school athletes in the country. While almost half of high school concussions occur in football, concussions are prevalent in other youth sports including soccer, cheerleading, and hockey.

"We're thrilled to expand this program into the Bay Area," says Dr. Javier Cardenas, director of the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center in Phoenix. "Concussions are always serious and 90 percent of them are difficult to spot because they don't result in a loss of consciousness. It's important for student athletes, coaches, trainers and parents to be fluent in the symptoms of a concussion so that they can seek the important medical attention that they need."

"Dignity Health Concussion Network is a powerful way to help student athletes stay healthy for the long-term," says Jed York, CEO of the San Francisco 49ers. "The program is a critical step in protecting and educating young athletes. We are proud to help bring this proven program to the Bay Area."

The program will continue the progress by expanding region-wide to 200,000 Bay Area students by mid-2017. "It's one thing to educate students about concussions, but it means so much more to actually test them on their knowledge and make them experts on the topic," says Roger Blake, executive director of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF). "Our student athletes are so fortunate to have access to a program hand-designed by the most accomplished neurologists and concussions specialists in the country. This is a huge step forward in protecting the health of student athletes in California."

"We are pleased to support the efforts of Dignity Health's Barrow Neurological Institute in providing concussion education and support to the selected Bay Area high schools," says Michael Wahlster, Chief Executive Officer of ImPACT. "Having worked with Dr. Cardenas and the Barrow staff on their program in Arizona, we've seen first-hand how important it is to implement a comprehensive approach to concussions, one that combines high-quality education with state of the art testing for student athletes."

About Dignity Health

Dignity Health, one of the nation's largest health care systems, is a 21-state network of 9,000 physicians, 59,000 employees, and more than 400 care centers, including hospitals, urgent and occupational care, imaging centers, home health, and primary care clinics. Headquartered in San Francisco, Dignity Health is dedicated to providing compassionate, high-quality, and affordable patient-centered care with special attention to the poor and underserved. In FY15, Dignity Health provided $1.7 billion in charitable care and services. For more information, please visit our website at www.dignityhealth.org. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.