Published December 22, 2011
PUCCS—the Program for the Understanding of Childhood Concussions and Stroke—aims to study the impact of concussion-related injuries on the developing brain, create better diagnostic and treatment tools, and raise awareness about such injuries among players, parents and coaches.
While concussions among professional athletes have commanded the spotlight in recent years, they overshadow what Levy calls “an epidemic” of concussions in kids.
“Youth concussions strike directly at a child’s growing brain and can directly affect his or her ability to learn,” he says.
“Children who have had concussions have gone from being straight-A students to becoming students who have major learning disabilities.”
Levy, who co-directs the Toshiba Stroke Research Center and the Kaleida Stroke Care Center, plans to apply to childhood concussions the knowledge that he and his UB colleagues have gained from treating adults with concussions, strokes or other brain injuries.
Concussions don’t cause strokes, Levy stresses, but parallels in both conditions demand further study. He’s particularly interested in determining whether the alteration in blood flow to the brain that occurs during a stroke also takes place during a concussion.
Levy also wants to learn how physicians might leverage advanced imaging tools, such as computed tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging, to better diagnose and treat concussions. Such an understanding could help explain why seemingly similar concussions can have such different outcomes.
Although PUCCS is a project of the Department of Neurosurgery and Dent Neurologic Institute, Levy says it will also tap experts from other departments within the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, including John J. Leddy, MD, associate professor of orthopaedics and director of the UBMD Concussion Clinic.
Since its inception in November, PUCCS has raised more than $100,000 from charitable events, including hockey tournaments endorsed by USA Hockey.
The enthusiastic support of UB, Western New York, USA Hockey and the Buffalo Sabres have raised the group’s profile, Levy says, adding that all contributions go toward research and education.