Category Archives: Journalism Works

A grouping of past works from my experiences in the University of Kansas Journalism School.

KU’s new Concussion Testing Software

KU Leads way in Concussion Technology

He got up off the turf, dazed and confused, and headed back to the huddle for the next play.  Daymond Patterson, a former wide receiver at the University of Kansas, played the rest of the drive and the rest of the quarter until halftime, before the team took his helmet because of his concussion.

This was October 2012, when the head injury chaos had just started to overwhelm the game of football, and the scientists studying the impact of these harmful hits.

However, the confusion over all the concussion fuss is taking a major step forward.  The University of Kansas is now using technology that will better help doctors determine if student-athletes do have concussions.

“I got undercut on a pass and came down, smashing the back of my head against the turf,” Patterson said, explaining the hit against Kansas State on a frigid day in Manhattan’s Bill Snyder Stadium.  “I got up pretty quickly and felt pretty good.  It took a while for me to feel any side effects.”

The technology, which stems from research done for Parkinson’s Disease, will condense all the required information into a simple app on the iPad2 to help doctors quickly identify what is wrong.

The new software, termed C3 Logix, holds all the information in one spot.  Now, doctors don’t need to sort through files to find an athlete’s balance test scores or their reactionary test scores.

The iPad2, with the new C3 Logix testing, stores the concussion baseline testing information making it easy to recall where the player tested originally compared to after a hit to the head.

baseline concussion test.

“The iPad and the software does help to keep everything closeby and easy to access,” said Murphy Grant, the head athletic trainer for the KU football team.  “It makes our life fairly easy and keeps all the information in a safe and secure spot.  It’s a lot better than the folders of paperwork I would have to have on hand for every single player.”

With the scores being available on tablets that are easily transported, a concussion test can now more easily be performed on the sidelines to tell how severely a player is impacted.

It’s reported that 300,000 head injuries happen in one year in the United States.  Having new technology like this will help better diagnose the symptoms and more quickly get an athlete back on the playing field.

The baseline tests that will be stored on the new software are now being performed on kids starting at age 10.  They range from $5 to $50 each.  In Kansas, ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is used for testing and usually cost $10.

“The volleyball team, and the entire athletic department, uses ImPACT for our athletes,” said Aimee Miyazawa, head athletic trainer for the KU women’s volleyball team.  “In my eyes that is the most basic, but in-depth baseline test I’ve seen for pre-concussion testing.  I can now use that test very smoothly to better detect our athlete’s injuries.”

The volleyball team has not yet worked with C3 Logix, but Miyazawa said she would be interested in incorporating it.

So far, only the football and women’s soccer programs have worked with the new technology on its athletes.

“I can see this becoming very popular and possibly being used across the athletic department at this time next year,” Grant said.  “I think it is awesome and I don’t really want to go back to anything else.”

While there is still uncertainty at times whether someone has a head injury, but this new technology will help a trained medical staff make better determinations on the student-athletes.

Both Grant and Miyazawa said that a player could tank on the baseline testing to give themselves a better chance to play later with some concussion symptoms but neither thought that was an issue with KU players.

“I never thought I was playing with a concussion or was avoiding the training staff,” Patterson said.  “I felt fine to play when it happened except for the little pain that comes from regular football plays.  It wasn’t until I sat down at halftime and the hype wore off, but the headache set in.”

Grant is unable to comment on specific players or incidents, but he did acknowledge that there are some players that think they can play through injuries.

“I regularly see the athlete that wants to work through pain and keep pushing, especially in football, it’s what is instilled in these young athletes,” he said.  “But it’s usually those minor concussions, which guys don’t acknowledge right away, that turn into the long-lasting concussions.  We hope, with this technology, that we can better test the athlete, and do it quicker, so that we can pinpoint the magnitude of the head injury, and prevent the long-term injury.”

Firebirds Defense Locks Down Indians

It was a beautiful night for football and a great atmosphere to start off the season after all the players had gone through all their off-season workouts, but Shawnee Mission North would have rather had more practice, then have to play this game.

The game started off quickly when Sam Skwarlo caused a fumble on the SM North four yard line on the third play of the game, which was returned for a touchdown by Keith Loneker 52 seconds into the game, which Lawrence Free State would go on to win 47-7.

“The touchdown by Keith really set the mood for our team and it got our fans hyped up,” said Blake Winslow, senior linebacker for the Firebirds.  “Once we got the momentum early, we just kept going.”

From there the Free State defense never let up, causing three turnovers on North’s first three possessions.

Free State capitalized on their field position, scoring on their first three offensive possessions. Senior quarterback, Joe Dineen, had a touchdown pass to Winslow and a rushing touchdown, which sandwiched the rushing touchdown by Stan Skwarlo, and he score was 28-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Then it was 47-0 at halftime and all but over, but Firebirds coach Bob Lisher couldn’t let his team think like that.

“The challenge at halftime was how do we keep the intensity up,” Lisher said.  “We had 47 points on 26 plays and that’s easy to relax then.”

The Free State defense forced two fumbles and two interceptions and seven sacks while the offense only surrendered one fumble to the Indians, but all of that happened in the first half.

Dineen was relieved with eight minutes left in the third quarter, along with most of the starters following him on the next series.  The Kansas Jayhawk commit finished 6-9 passing for 73 yards and two touchdowns along with 65 yards rushing and another score on the ground.

Shawnee Mission North did have one glimmering moment when senior Jesse Patterson hauled in a 63 yard catch and run.  That drive ended with Dominic Degraffenreid-Snell scored on a three yard run.

“It was a good game because we got the twos, threes, and fours [on the depth chart] some playing time,” Lisher said.  “But the intensity has to be there from every guy on the team.  Trust me; we will bring the intensity tomorrow, for the whole film session.”

Winslow led the defense with 5 tackles, 3 of them sacks, a fumble recovery and a touchdown catch on offense.  Not to be outdone, Loneker had four tackles, a sack, the fumble recovery for a touchdown, and a receiving touchdown on offense.

The Progress at Rock Chalk Park

The races that consist of the KU Relays have ended, but the bigger race is just beginning.

The proposed plans of all the athletic facilities at 6th Street and George Williams Way

The University of Kansas and the City of Lawrence broke ground on the new Rock Chalk Park back on April 16th, but the next step comes next week on Tuesday, May 14th.

On this day, city officials are prepared to receive construction bids for the new recreation center that would span five acres on the land adjacent to the new KU facilities.

The Lawrence Recreation Center is proposed to have more than 180,000 square feet at the intersection of 6th street and George Williams Way.  This would allow more gym space for Lawrence patrons and more basketball/volleyball courts.

A “Blissful City”

It would seem that Bliss Sports has wrapped up the $25 million project, but that official announcement will come from the City of Lawrence and the City Commissioner on Tuesday.

Bliss Sports, which is already working on the KU facility is making the push to win the city over; one way to do that is to help pay the cost to establish this.

“This is a huge project and something that the city of Lawrence really needs,” said Dru Fritzel, co-owner of Bliss Sports.  “We really just want to see it come to life after all these years of a lot of talk, but no action.”

Bliss Sports has already set up one program to help offset more than $11 million for the KU facilities.  The entire Rock Chalk Project is being financed by Fritzel and leased back to the university over time.

The city has capped its portion of the developments at $25 million, which comes from tax dollars from the Lawrence residents and other recreation accounts the city has stored up.

The city is taking on it’s second cooperative effort with another brand.

The City of Lawrence runs and operates the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center, which is also set up and used by Lawrence Free State High School.

With both of the joint efforts coming from public school systems, KU looks to build off this success, even if it comes from the separate athletic department.

“We look forward to the second half of this project coming in with the recreation center,” said Sheahon Zenger, KU Athletic Director.  “We look forward to being the eternal, or perpetual neighbor, with the city.”

The Health Craze Meets the Migration

There has been a lot of people calling for a new recreation center for some years now.

The city has three indoor recreation centers now, using the Community Building at 11th and Vermont, the East Lawrence Center on East 15th Street and the Holcom Sports Complex at the corner of 27th and Lawrence Avenue.

However, all of these are older, worn-down buildings and they are pretty small.  The newest building is the Holcom Park Center and that was constructed in 25 years ago in 1988.

“There is no doubt in my mind Lawrence needs more exercise space,” said Terry Riordan, a pediatrician and a City Commission candidate who had a vote on the project.  “I’ve talked to so many people who end up traveling to Kansas City or Topeka to reach facilities like the new proposed ones.  Lawrence needs something like this.”

All of these facilities are older, but they are also all located in unique parts of town.

In the 2006 PLAY Study, more gym space was called for, for the youth and the city, and the need for an indoor community recreation center in northwest Lawrence was recognized.

This fits the theme going on in Lawrence, where families and businesses seem to be shifting more toward the western parts of Lawrence.

This doesn’t appear to be a problem for too many people, though.

“Lawrence is really, somewhat of a small town,” Zenger said.  “I don’t think anything is inaccessible in Lawrence, Kansas.”

See the Full Comments from Dr. Zenger at the Groundbreaking Ceremony

One Arkansas-based company has had plans approved to build an apartment complex and a nine-hole golf course combination on the other side of George Williams Way.

Plans for a new ten building strip mall are starting to take shape, which would put a new shopping center on sixth street.  Bliss, and the Fritzel brothers, have their hand on this project as well.

“This set up would have three major stores and seven other smaller ones,” Fritzel said.  “It would bring in retailers that current residents have no access to unless they drive to Topeka or Kansas City.”

Hopefully Zenger is right.  The patrons of the city seem willing and excited for this new development to pop up, but as for the students on campus, it may be asking a lot.

Preston Sycks, a freshman from St. Paul Minnesota said he went to close to sixty “non-revenue” games this year as part of Rock Chalk Rewards, where he accumulated points for going to the smaller sporting events, such as soccer and softball.  Later his points are turned into prizes for supporting KU Athletics.

“If this was the set up this year, I wouldn’t have gone to as many games as I did this year,” Sycks said.  “Since I don’t have a car, it would be nearly impossible for me to get to games; and it’s just far away, really an inconvenience.”

There are talks about buses running from campus to Rock Chalk Park, but nothing has been finalized.  Nothing will probably be set up until the fall of 2015, when soccer hopes to kick-off at the new complex.

Paying Off the Debt

While the $25 million project may seem like a lot from the city, if all goes according to plan, then the city will be able to get out of the red numbers pretty quickly.

The city will be able to rent out sections of the complex for team practices and individual trainings.  The facility hopes to become home to annual amateur basketball and volleyball tournaments.  These tournaments could bring in thousands of kids from across the Midwest and kids of all ages.

Then there is the revenue outside of the facility and these tournaments that greatly benefit the city.

With all these teams and families coming to tournaments in the area, they need hotels, food, and memorabilia.  Since there really aren’t any major tournaments in Lawrence now, it’s hard to say how much this will impact the city, but it will certainly help.

“I think we will see a lot of things: restaurants, hotels, attracts pop up out here,” Fritzel said, and the city has a great possibility to become a favored attraction for parents and coaches.”

The University’s Rock Chalk Park will also help.  Since the improvements to the playing grounds will improve so much, it will put KU, and Lawrence, on the map to host Big 12 tournaments, and maybe some bigger NCAA preliminary tournaments.

“Our full 400 meter track will set us up to be able to host Big 12’s and great events at the new facilities,” said Stanley Redwine, head coach for KU track and field.  “Also we will be able to have U.S.A. meets, and things like that, in conjunction with the city.”

There’s a lot to look forward to whether you’re a KU fan or a Lawrence resident, or both.

While there are still some questions, and a lot of them will be answered on the 14th, one thing is certain, and that is that the future of KU soccer, softball and track and field seems very bright.

The Caffeine Craze Hits Finals Week

It’s the time of year a lot of people dread: the weather is gloomy and it seems like the work is never-ending.  Everyone is tired and making it from fifteen minute break to the next short break can become challenging. 

A lot of these people turn to coffee, or another form of caffeine, to get their energy boost or pick-me-up.

These caffeinated drinks are beneficial, especially for a short energy spurt, but the intake levels should always be under watch.

“I drink a lot of coffee, just to keep me going,” said Josie Miller, a senior graphics design major.  “There are days when I forget how much I have had, but I need it to keep me up and to keep me going, to get some of my projects done.”

There is no denying the notion that caffeine works.  According to The New York Times a recent study has proven that caffeine helps keep drivers safer by keeping them awake better.

Heavy caffeine use can lead to insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, restless, irritability, upset stomach, fast heartbeat and muscle tremors, as reported by the Mayo Clinic.

While a lot of people take caffeinated products to help them stay awake, many do not realize that this is probably the reason they are struggling to get to sleep or sleep through an entire night.

The amount of caffeine in coffee is absurdly higher than any other alternative

“Caffeine, and high amounts of it, increase blood pressure and your heart rate,” said Jennifer Porto, a PA-C at College Park Orthopedic.  “It is hard to sleep with a high heart rate, and then you wake up exhausted and need more caffeine.   It’s a lot of self-induced stress.”

This is usually the biggest long-term problem.  The half-life of caffeine in the body is close to six hours.  According to http://www.overcaffeinated.org/, if your last usual dose (which usually consists of 200 mg) of caffeine comes at 4 p.m., the caffeine will still be working in your body until 4:00 a.m.

Then the body looks to counter the excitement and energy caused by the caffeine and self-produce the alertness of being awake.  But the power of the stimulant is too strong and dependable.

“Over time, like other drugs, the body gets used to the caffeine intake and the usual amount is no longer sufficient,” Porto said.  “The body needs more and more to get the desired effect that the caffeine is supposed to induce.”

But a lot of the students aren’t worried about the health aspects at this point in their life.

“I’ve been told what all the coffee does to me, physically, but I usually reply with what it does to me mentally,” Miller said.  “I know the side effects, but when I need help getting my projects done and getting through work, coffee will do that.”

Most of these problems come from cases with high intake users of caffeine.  As with most other things, moderate consumption is not a bad thing, as long as the caffeine intake can be controlled.

“I am not nixing the consumption of coffee or other caffeine,” Porto said.  “Just watch how much you use and how dependable people become on the caffeine.”

According to the American Heart Association “moderate coffee drinking (one or two cups a day) does not seem harmful to most people.”

Moderation is the key.

KU Blood Drive

You may consider yourself a hero or someone may call you a hero for minute things.  People may look up to you for one reason or another.  Be a true hero.  Go save a life, give blood.

It’s that easy.

One blood donation can help three separate individuals in need of a blood transplant.

The University of Kansas held its annual spring blood drive March 9 through March 13, but the blood drive was not as successful as it has been in the past.

The blood drive committee set a goal to receive 850 units of blood to send to some local blood providers.  The University of Kansas collected 538 total units, sending 350 units to the Community Blood Center and 188 units to American Red Cross.

“Numbers, this year, were very low,” said Leann DeLong, the donor recruiter from the Community Blood Center.  “They were worse than I’ve ever seen from KU for the spring collection.”

The bad part is that this is not just a local problem.  It is a nationwide problem.  Blood donations and corresponding blood supplies are down to a new low.  Many blood banks are suffering and can’t serve the needy patients.

Inventories for blood are extremely low across the nation.  This has been a problem for all of 2012 and it needs a major boost soon.  Both O negative and O positive blood types are at critical levels, according to American Red Cross’ website.

The Community Blood Center is noticing the same problem in the Kansas area.  Transferable blood is leaving the center faster than it is coming in.

“We are at a deficit with all blood donations,” said Delong.  “Blood supply is critically low on O positive blood types.”

These O blood types are important because these are the blood types that can be transplanted into almost anyone.  Type O negative is universal and can match up with any other blood type.  Type O positive is the most common blood type.  Both of these are always in high demand and usually in a shortage.

The American Red Cross aims to collect more than 900 units of blood a day from across the nation.  The Community Blood Center, which focuses mainly on the Greater Kansas City area, calls for 580 donors a day.

Approximately 44,000 units of blood are needed for patients a day, according to redcrossblood.org.  That averages to one person needing blood every two seconds.

The blood drive committee from the University of Kansas set a high goal knowing it seemed like a long shot.

Last spring, the University of Kansas and Lawrence community donated 651 total units.

“We knew that was a high goal, but we did not think the turnout would be as low as it was,” said Anita Miriyala, president of the Blood Drive Committee.  “We will go back and look at what we did this year and the year before, and make the proper changes.

American Red Cross reports on its website that it collects 6.5 million units from donators and turns that into blood sources for nine million other people.

Nine million people need blood transfusions a year.  Any donation is beneficial.

“The blood banks count on us because a university is usually a good place to get a lot of donors, said Anita Miriyala, the president of the Blood Drive Committee at KU.  “It’s such a large mass of people and they are usually pretty healthy, so all the donated units are productive.”

A productive unit is a unit that still qualifies for transfusion after all the testing.  Each donation is screened and tested for diseases, medications and other substances that could possibly harm the receiver of the transfusion.

“I feel like we kind of let down our blood centers this time around,” Miriyala said.  “500-plus donations is good, but with the size of the university and the Lawrence community, we could have done better.

Most people seemed to point to advertising and recruiting as the source of the problem.

There were emails sent to the students and chalk written on sidewalks on campus, but in this world with mass media and the amounts of chalk everywhere on campus, students may have avoided reading the advertisements all together.

“People just didn’t know about the blood drive, DeLong said.  “I know the committee wrote in chalk on campus, but when I walked into the student union I saw chalk for everything.  It is hard to reach the masses when you are advertising the same way.”

“Because we are a university organization, we were able to send emails to the students,” Miriyala said.  “But we needed to do more.”

DeLong’s first suggestion for improvement is to add more students on the blood drive committee.  More students would help reach more people and spread the word.