Head injury summit set for Grand Junction

An upcoming event in Grand Junction is expected to bring together national experts on brain and psychological health injuries.

The Western Colorado Area Health Education Center has scheduled a western states summit on the topic for Oct. 13.

The summit is set for 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at St. Mary’s Hospital. Admission to the morning sessions is free. Admission to the full-day session, which includes lunch, costs $15. Continuing education credits will be available to participating health care providers.

To register or obtain more information, call 244-8400 or log on to the Web site located at www.wcahec.org.

“It’s so very important that all of us understand the very real danger and frequency of U.S. head injuries,” said Carol Giffin-Jeansonne, executive director of the Western Colorado Area Health Education Center. “The Centers for Disease Control estimated 1.7 million diagnosed head injuries every year, while experts on head injury estimate the real numbers are closer to over 4 million.”

Injuries sustained in the military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have exacerbated the situation. By one estimate, only about half of returning veterans seek care through the Veterans Affairs Department, relying instead on civilian health care providers in their communities.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet — a Democrat from Colorado who serves on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — is scheduled to kick off the summit.

The other presenters will include:

Dr. James Kelly, a neurologist and director of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence who’s written a book on concussion guidelines used in military and athletic settings.

David Sutherland, a retired Army colonel who’s served as special assistant to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the Department of Defense Warrior and Family Support Office.

Kelly Phillips-Henry, a psychologist and chief operating officer of AspenPointe, a nonprofit organization in Colorado that provides behavioral health and counseling services. Phillips-Henry is also a former Air Force major who served as an assistant professor and acting director of the counseling center at the Air Force Academy.

Giffin-Jeansonne said she knows from personal experience the importance of caring for returning troops and other loved ones who’ve suffered head injuries. She said her own son suffered a severe head injury while on state-side duty with the Colorado National Guard. “Understanding the issue can pave the way to protecting our loved ones,” she said.