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Pasadena Unified Partners with Huntington Medical Research Institutes to Save Lives of Student Athletes

This fall, every high school student athlete in the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) will be eligible to receive a free head and heart Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan. PUSD has partnered with the Huntington Medical Research Institutes (HMRI) to conduct a cutting-edge research program focused on diagnosis and prevention of sudden cardiac death and traumatic brain injury in student athletes.  This program is motivated by increased public recognition of traumatic brain injuries by the National Football League and others and the deaths of students across the country due to sudden cardiac death. This study is a first for Pasadena high school athletes.

“I am extremely excited to partner with the Huntington Research Institute to provide this service to PUSD students and I believe this program is beneficial for our athletes,” said PUSD Interim Superintendent Dr. Brian McDonald.  “As someone who witnessed the sudden heart related death of a childhood friend immediately after a soccer game, I understand the importance of preventative care to protect our student athletes.  We are grateful to the HMRI for their willingness to include us in this important endeavor.”

Student athletes will be eligible to receive a free cardiac MRI designed to identify an inherited heart condition that predisposes a student to sudden cardiac death (SCD), a non-traumatic, non-violent, unexpected event resulting from the cessation of the heart beating within six hours of a previously witnessed state of normal health.  People at risk for SCD are usually without symptoms and unaware that they have a predisposing condition. An Altadena resident and former PUSD student who was attending Harvard-Westlake succumbed to SCD last year. Devastating events such as this could potentially be prevented by the simple scan offered to PUSD athletes.

“I am excited to be able to offer this new benefit to our PUSD athletes,” said Ann Rector, PUSD Coordinator of Health Programs. “This study has the potential of not only saving a life, but also helping researchers understand sports-related trauma.”

PUSD athletes can also receive brain scans designed to diagnosis and prevent brain injuries resulting from a concussion.  Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that can lead to chronic cognitive and neurobehavioral difficulties especially if the concussions are recurrent. Although the majority of athletes who experience a concussion are likely to recover, an unknown number of these individuals may experience difficulties related to recurrent injury, commonly referred to as Post-Concussion Syndrome.

Two MRI head screening exams, an initial screening early in the school year and a follow-up at the end of the school year, are available to student athletes free of charge.  Any athlete who experiences a concussion while participating in a PUSD sporting event will also receive a follow-up scan to see how the injury has affected the brain.  Participation in both the brain and heart scans is optional and will supplement the annual physical exam that athletes receive. An MRI does not involve radiation exposure and the scans are very safe.

“HMRI’s expertise in non-invasive imaging is an important resource for PUSD and we are pleased to offer these normally expensive studies to young athletes at no cost to the student or the district,” said HMRI’s Chief Scientific Officer, Marie Csete MD, PhD. “HMRI scientists will also benefit from studying students because there is insufficient data about the incidence of cardiac abnormalities that could lead to SCD.  Importantly, HMRI is at the forefront of understanding how imaging can be used to diagnose and follow patients after they sustain a head injury, but we have focused on older patients to date, so important information about trauma to young brains can help fill in the scientific picture and, we hope, help future athletes.”

For more information about these programs, contact Ann Rector at rector.ann@pusd.us.

New Law Improves Safety by Giving Bicyclists More Space on the Road

“Three Feet for Safety Act” Takes Effect September 16, 2014

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is alerting drivers about a new law that requires them to give bicyclists, traveling in the same direction, three feet of clearance when passing. The Three Feet for Safety Act takes effect September 16, 2014.

According to the new law (AB1371, Bradford), signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. on September 23, 2013, if traffic or roadway conditions prevent motorists from giving cyclists three feet of space, drivers must “slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent” and only pass when a cyclist will not be in danger.  Violations are punishable by a $35 fine.  Motorists who collide with cyclists and injure them while violating the Three Feet for Safety Act can be subject to a $220 fine.  Under the previous law, a vehicle was simply required to pass to the left at a “safe distance.”

Each year in California, more than 100 people are killed and hundreds of thousands more are injured in bicycle collisions. Some bicycle related crashes are connected to the bicyclist’s behavior, while others are due to the motorist’s lack of attention.

  • Bicycle riders on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, and are subject to the same rules and regulations. Refer to the California Driver Handbook to become familiar with these rules.
  • Motorists must look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes, and opening doors next to moving traffic. Respect the right-of-way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you.

California is among 24 states that require motorists to give bicyclists three feet of clearance while passing, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

For more information about safely sharing the road, check out these helpful DMV resources:

Safety Tips for Bicyclists and Motorists, Bicycle Resources, and an Informational Video.

Save Time, Go Online! Doing business with the DMV has never been easier. The DMV offers an array of services to customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through its Website(www.dmv.ca.gov), including online advance appointments for written and drive tests; vehicle registration and driver license renewals, selection of personalized license plates, changes of address and payment of fees via secure debit transactions. Customers can also effect transactions by calling DMV customer service at (800) 777–0133. The DMV is a department under the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA).

Student Events Calendar Announced for 2014-15 Academic Year

SAN BERNARDINO, CA – This academic year, students throughout San Bernardino County will take part in academic competitions and musical performances in events organized by the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools office.

Events range from the Academic Decathlon to the Riverside, Inyo, Mono and San Bernardino (RIMS) Inland Science and Engineering Fair with events running from November through May. Below is a description of student events and their dates.

Academic Decathlon: About 40 high schools from the county are expected to compete this year for the team championship, which follows with state and national competitions. The 32nd annual event will be held over two weekends – Jan. 31 and Feb. 7, 2015 – at Redlands East Valley High School. The awards banquet will be held Feb. 12 at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. The winning team and other qualifiers will represent San Bernardino County at the state competition in Sacramento in March.

History Day: This program for individuals in grades 4-12 will be held on March 14. History Day encourages students to research and prepare papers, exhibits, performances, documentaries, websites and posters on an annual historic theme. County winners advance to the state finals in Riverside in May and nationals in College Park, Md., in June.

Mock Trial: Held in collaboration with the District Attorney’s office, Mock Trial is a team competition where high school students gain a working knowledge of legal institutions and the

judicial system. Each year, students research a case developed by the Constitutional Rights Foundation. The first round of competition is Nov. 4. The finals will be held at the Foothill Law and Justice Center in Rancho Cucamonga on Dec. 13. The awards ceremony is scheduled for Jan. 15 at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. The winning county team will advance to the state competition in San Jose in March.

Music festivals and clinics: Choirs, bands and orchestras for elementary, middle and high schools are held throughout the academic year. The basin honor band (San Bernardino Valley) will perform in February, as will the High Desert honor band for elementary, middle and high schools. The honor orchestra will perform in the late winters as well.

RIMS Inland Science and Engineering Fair: This annual individual competition for grades 4-12 promotes science projects designed, developed and displayed by students from schools in Riverside, Inyo, Mono and San Bernardino counties. The event, which is held at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino, will be held April 6-7. Winners (grades 6-12) advance to the state competition in Los Angeles on April 27.

In addition, there will be events such as academic pentathlon for middle schools, a family reading rally in mid-April and senior recognition for Advancement Via Individual Determination students in May.

For more information about student events, contact David Maya in Student Activities at County Schools at (909) 386-2640.