Doctors raising awareness about the dangers of concussions

Heroes mission to make school sports safer

DENVER - There was a day when a lot of people thought a concussion just meant a bump on the head. We've learned the hard way it can be much more serious.

Fortunately, a pair of 7Everyday Heroes are volunteering their time to educate everyone they can. Doctor Brooke Pengel is a sports medicine physician at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

"I like to be that voice of reason to the community that we don't have to have a bad outcome," said Dr. Pengel.

Karen McAvoy is a clinical psychologist at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

"We still have many places where there's the idea that this is not a big injury; it's not that big of a deal; we don't recognize it and we don't pull them from play and that's when the dangerous things happen," said McAvoy

Together, doctors McAoy and Pengel, are changing the way we view concussions. Doctor McAvoy even wrote the Colorado protocol for managing concussions that is often mirrored in other states.

"So it is a culture change: Empowering these coaches to say: 'This is the injury you don't want to hide from me, this is the injury where it's ok to come to me,'" said Dr. Pengel.

Doctors McAvoy and Pengel knew something more needed to be done after the death of Jake Snakenberg in 2004.  He played football for Grandview High School and collapsed on the field.

"And he tried to get up and come to the sidelines and then went back down and never got back up again," said Kelli Jantz, Jake's mom.

Jake's mom is the force behind Colorado's Concussion Law. She says doctors McAvoy and Pengel are helping families avoid what hers endured.

''And made it possible for people, parents, teachers and coaches and trainers to get the information that they need to help keep our kids safe," said Jantz.

That means when they are not at the hospital helping patents McAvoy and Pengel are on the road educating coaches, parents and athletes.

"If we get asked to go out and do an evening presentation or weekend presentation - we rarely ever turn that down.  That's a chance to get in front of people - so we go," said McAvoy.

"I love sharing our expertise with the community and changing - making the sports safer for the kids," said Pengel.

To learn more about The Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children go to

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