Bob Gfeller’s made it his life’s mission to better research, prevent, and treat something that kills more than 10,000 children in this country every year. That’s more than any disease, virus, syndrome or affliction.
We’re talking about pediatric trauma which is defined as “serious injury to children that likely results in surgery and hospitalization.” It happens via many incidents or accidents: car or bike wrecks, slips and falls, and athletics.
Gfeller knows that last category all too well. In August of 2008 he lost his son Matthew. Matthew was a 15-year-old sophomore at R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem. Matthew died of a traumatic heat injury after taking a hit during a football game.
After Matthew’s death, he founded the Matthew Gfeller Foundation <http://www.matthewgfellerfoundation.org> which helps parents prevent, recognize, and treat youth sports head injuries.
He also saw the North Carolina Legislature pass the Gfeller-Waller Consussion Awarness Act. It—among other things—keeps public high schools and middle schools from sending children with suspected head injuries back into games—until doctors or certified trainers clear them.
But Gfeller quickly learned something else was needed.
“Because pediatric trauma is not necessarily recognized as a disease, getting government funding—particularly in the environment that we’re in is difficult,” he says.
And that, in part, led him to his new job as Executive Director of the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma in Winston-Salem. <http://www.wakehealth.edu/cipt/> The institute’s core mission is to fund and drive pediatric trauma research, education, and awareness. Watch the story above to see some of the work it’s doing.
Gfeller also has some important advice for parents whose children have expressed an interest in athletics, especially sports like football that involve a lot of contact: