News : 2011 : July

UM Symposium Tackles Neurotrauma

Miami Herald
By Laura Edwins

Brain and spinal trauma affect more young adults and children than any disease. A national symposium brings researchers and patients together.

Scientists and patients gathered Tuesday in Hallandale Beach to hear the latest research on what some say is a growing epidemic: Brain and spinal cord injuries.

“Neurotrauma kills and permanently disables more young people world wide than any other disease,” said Dr. Ross Bullock, president of the National Neurotrauma Society and a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. “Yet the amount of money available for research and advocacy is 1/100th of what has been available for AIDS and breast cancer research.”

Bullock and researchers from the Miller School and other universities nationwide presented their research to colleagues throughout the four-day National Neurotrauma Symposium taking place through Wednesday at the Westin Diplomat Hotel. Tuesday’s event was part of their effort to reach out to the public.

Among those attending: 20-year-old Ashlee Quintero, who suffered a concussion while playing soccer for UM in 2009.

Quintero returned to the field too soon after her concussion. Her symptoms persisted and she struggled with headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. She hasn’t been able to play since.

“I played since I was 8,” she said. “After playing 10, 11 years, playing everyday, it was a very big change.”

But Quintero said her concussion was a bit of blessing in disguise. She was referred to Dr. Gillian Hotz, director of the KiDZ Neuroscience Center at the Miller School. Quintero, a senior pre-med psychology major, now works for Hotz, helping her conduct research on concussions with the Hurricane football team. They’re able to monitor the football players from the sidelines, and using an inner-ear device, monitor the impact the brain feels.