Protecting the brains of Team USA: U-M concussion expert heads to Sochi Olympics

Depression Center member Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher to provide neurological care to all American athletes & all NHL players from any country participating in 2014 Olympic Winter Games

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Team USA will soon take to the ice and snow in Sochi, Russia, to compete with the world’s best at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

And if any of America’s athletes suffer a concussion or other insult to their brain or nerves, they’ll get help from one of the world’s best: Jeffrey Kutcher, M.D., a sports neurologist from the University of Michigan Health System.

U-M sports neurologist Jeffrey Kutcher, M.D.

U-M sports neurologist Jeffrey Kutcher, M.D.

As an official member of the medical staff for Team USA, Kutcher will stand ready to rush to the slopes, rinks and halfpipes to test athletes for signs they’ve suffered a concussion, and to work with other medical professionals to coordinate care.

Kutcher, who heads the U-M NeuroSport clinic and is an associate professor of neurology at the U-M Medical School, has earned a worldwide reputation for sports neurology. He’s a team physician for U-M Athletics, and co-led the development of the American Academy of Neurology’s new concussion guidelines.

No stranger to winter sports, Kutcher serves as neurology consultant to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s medical committee, the National Hockey League Players’ Association and the USA Hockey development program. In his NHLPA role, he’ll be available to assess any NHL player participating in the Sochi games – including dozens playing for other nations.

As an amateur skier and hockey player, Kutcher says he’s long had a dream of taking part in the Olympics – and to do so as a team physician is a great honor and incredible opportunity.

“My primary responsibility is to make sure all of our athletes are participating safely and that we have their health first and foremost in our minds throughout the games,” he says. “Each sport has its own specific risk profile based on the number of times an athlete might experience a fall or impact, the type of impact and the speed the athletes or objects are going when they hit.”