Kevin Guskiewicz, a neuroscientist and nationally recognized expert on sport-related concussions, became dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on Jan. 1, 2016. Previously, he had served as senior associate dean for the natural sciences and chair of the department of exercise and sport science in the College.
As dean, he oversees the largest academic institution on campus, encompassing more than 70 academic departments, curricula, programs, centers and institutes.
A 20-year member of Carolina’s faculty, Guskiewicz is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Exercise and Sport Science and co-director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center and director of the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes. He holds appointments in the department of orthopaedics, department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center and doctoral program in human movement science.
Guskiewicz earned a B.S. in athletic training from West Chester University, M.S. in exercise physiology/athletic training from the University of Pittsburgh and Ph.D. in sports medicine from the University of Virginia. Over the past 22 years, his research has focused on sport-related concussion, investigating its effect on balance and neurocognitive function in athletes, and the long-term neurological issues related to playing sports.
His groundbreaking work has garnered numerous awards, including fellowships in the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Academy of Kinesiology and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. His research has also influenced concussion guidelines and recommendations made by these organizations as well as the NCAA and the NFL. He was named to the NCAA’s Concussion Committee, the NFL Players Association’s Mackey-White Committee and the NFL’s Head, Neck, and Spine Committee.
In 2011, he was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship for his innovative work on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of sport-related concussions. He and his colleagues used that award to help improve safety in high school sports and to help the U.S. military identify and treat serious head injuries. In 2013, Time magazine named him a Game Changer, one of 18 “innovators and problem-solvers that are inspiring change in America.”
Areas of Expertise (11)
Appointed Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, UNC-Chapel Hill (professional)
After a national search to replace Dean Karen Gil, who announced she was stepping down to return to teaching, Kevin Guskiewicz was named the next dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, effective Jan. 1, 2016.
Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award (professional)
Recognizes members of the National Athletic Trainers' Association who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to leadership, volunteer service, advocacy and distinguished professional activities as an athletic trainer.
Order of the Golden Fleece, University of North Carolina (professional)
Founded in 1904, The Order of the Golden Fleece is the University's oldest and highest honorary society. Members are selected based upon service to the University as reflected in scholarship, motivation, creativity, loyalty, and leadership in academic and extracurricular pursuits. Those eligible for selection must possess exemplary character and can include juniors, seniors, graduate students, staff, faculty and alumni who have made significant, lasting contributions to the University.
Time Magazine "Game Changer" (professional)
In 2013 Time magazine named Kevin Guskiewicz a Game Changer, one of 18 “innovators and problem-solvers that are inspiring change in America.”
West Chester University’s Sturzebecker Hall of Fame Inductee (personal)
An honor awarded to Dr. Guskiewicz by West Chester University.
2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award (professional)
Curry School of Education, University of Virginia.
2013 Commencement Speaker, University of North Carolina (professional)
The speaker for Winter Commencement is typically a distinguished faculty member.
University of Pittsburgh Legacy Laureate (professional)
Distinguished Alumni Award.
MacArthur Fellow (professional)
The MacArthur Fellowship, commonly referred to as a "Genius Grant," is a prize awarded annually to individuals who show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work and are citizens or residents of the United States.
University of Virginia: Ph.D., Sports Medicine 1995
Dissertation: Effect of Mild Head Injury on Postural Stability
University of Pittsburgh: M.S., Exercise Physiology/Athletic Training 1992
West Chester University: B.A., Athletic Training 1989
Minor in Journalism
- The American College of Sports Medicine : Fellow
- National Academy of Kinesiology
- The National Athletic Trainers’ Association : Fellow
Media Appearances (10)
Being Smart About Your Child’s Brain
New York Times
Op-Ed columnist Frank Bruni writes about youth sports safety and interviews Kevin Guskiewicz and other experts.
Studies Aim to Reduce Risk of Concussions from Hard Hits in Football
Kevin Guskiewicz discusses UNC-Chapel Hill's youth safety research efforts on ABC's Nightline.
Is the future of high school football on the line?
Guskiewicz says football can be made safer with changes to the kicking game.
Guskiewicz, Mihalik talk impact of concussions
Kevin Guskiewicz and Jason Mihalik, co-directors of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related TBI Research Center, discussed their research at a Tar Heel Tailgate Talk at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Football and the Brain
CBS 60 Minutes
Steve Kroft examines the state of concussion safety and science in football, especially in the NFL. Kevin Guskiewicz is interviewed, along with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell , former NFL player Ed Reed and others.
N.F.L. to Help Fund Search for New Concussion Therapy
The New York Times
The N.F.L. will help finance research that will try to find ways to more actively treat concussions to speed recovery.
The investigation of the usefulness of active therapy will be led by Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz of the University of North Carolina, and Dr. Michael McCrea, the director of brain injury research at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
UNC concussion researcher participates in White House summit
Kevin Guskiewicz, a lead concussion researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was at the White House on Thursday when President Barack Obama announced new initiatives aimed at the prevention and treatment of concussions in youth sports.
Guskiewicz was invited to participate in the inaugural conference, the Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit, along with other experts from around the country.
Making Sports Safer Through Innovative Science: Kevin Guskiewicz at TEDxUNC
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.
Kevin Guskiewicz, Impact Investigator
In 2013 Time magazine named Kevin Guskiewicz a Game Changer, one of 18 “innovators and problem-solvers that are inspiring change in America.”
"Through his research on sport-related concussions, Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz is literally changing the game — from innovative sideline tests in football to the study of long-term effects in all sports," Time wrote.
An Impact on the Game
Carolina Alumni Review
Get out on the field and hit somebody? Fine, says Kevin Guskiewicz. Let's just look for ways to do it more safely.
Event Appearances (3)
Concussion: Innovative Solutions to a Challenging Problem in Sports and the Military
Tar Heel Tailgate Talk UNC-Chapel Hill
Concussion Epidemiology: Incidence Differences by Sport, Gender and Age
University of Michigan Injury Center Sport Concussion Summit Junge Family Champions Center at Michigan Stadium
Use of Innovative Technologies for the Prevention and Management of Sport-Related Concussion
Sports Neuropsychology Concussion Symposium Dallas, Texas
Guskiewicz, K., Teel, E. In order to promote the most successful outcomes following concussion, a multifaceted team of individuals is required for appropriate injury diagnosis and management. This review explores the primary roles of sports medicine personnel in the concussion diagnosis and management process. We will discuss the psychometric properties, including sensitivity, specificity, and clinical utility, of on-field/sideline, laboratory, and neurophysiological assessment tools. Additionally, we will discuss the roles of other kinesiology experts in concussion management and recovery, and their importance to concussion research. By developing a thorough and consistent roadmap for concussion management, clinicians and researchers will be capable of providing athletes with the most successful outcomes.
Schmidt JD, Guskiewicz KM, Mihalik JP, Blackburn JT, Siegmund GP, Marshall SW. OBJECTIVE: To compare the odds of sustaining moderate and severe head impacts, rather than mild, between high school football players with high and low visual performance. INTERVENTIONS: Athletes completed the Nike SPARQ Sensory Station visual assessment before the season. Head impact biomechanics were captured at all practices and games using the Head Impact Telemetry System. CONCLUSIONS: Better visual performance did not reduce the odds of sustaining higher magnitude head impacts. Visual performance may play less of a role than expected for protecting against higher magnitude head impacts among high school football players. Further research is needed to determine whether visual performance influences concussion risk.
Lynall RC and Guskiewicz KM. With a growing number of youth and adolescents participating in sports worldwide, understanding the acute assessment and treatment of sport-related concussion and the possible long-term consequences is imperative. Our knowledge of concussion has advanced substantially over the past two decades, but many questions remain unanswered.
Siegmund GP, Guskiewicz KM, Marshall SW, DeMarco AL, and Bonin SJ. A headform is needed to validate and compare helmet- and mouthguard-based sensors that measure the severity and direction of football head impacts. Our goal was to quantify the dynamic response of a mandibular load-sensing headform (MLSH) and to compare its performance and repeatability to an unmodified Hybrid III headform.
Guskiewicz KM, Register-Mihalik JK, McCrory P, McCrea M, Johnston K, Makdissi M, Dvorak J, Davis G, Meeuwisse W. The Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2 (SCAT2), which evolved from the 2008 Concussion in Sport Group (CISG) Consensus meeting, has been widely used internationally for the past 4 years. Although the instrument is considered very practical and moderately effective for use by clinicians who manage concussion, the utility and sensitivity of a 100-point scoring system for the SCAT2 has been questioned. The 2012 CISG Consensus Meeting provided an opportunity for several of the world's leading concussion researchers and clinicians to present data and to share experiences using the SCAT2. The purpose of this report is to consider recommendations by the CISG, and to review the current literature to identify the most sensitive and reliable concussion assessment components for inclusion in a revised version-the SCAT3.
Guskiewicz KM and Mihalik JP. Previous concussion biomechanics research has relied heavily on the animal model or laboratory reconstruction of concussive injuries captured on video footage. Real-time data collection involves a novel approach to better understanding the medical issues related to sport concussion. Recent studies suggest that a concussive injury threshold is elusive and may, in fact, be irrelevant when predicting the clinical outcome.
Mihalik JP, Greenwald RM, Blackburn JT, Cantu RC, Marshall SW, & Guskiewicz KM. PURPOSE: To identify the effects of infractions sustained during participation in youth ice hockey on biomechanical measures of head impact severity. METHODS: Sixteen adolescent Bantam-aged male ice hockey players (age = 14.0 +/- 0.5 yr, height = 171.3 +/- 4.5 cm, mass = 63.7 +/- 6.6 kg) were equipped with accelerometer-instrumented helmets to collect biomechanical measures relating to head impacts (linear acceleration, rotational acceleration, and Head Impact Technology severity profile (HITsp)) sustained while participating in ice hockey. Single-camera video footage from 54 games was synchronized with the head impact data, and all viewable collisions (n = 665) were evaluated as resulting from a legal collision or an infraction. Infractions were further categorized into boarding or charging, checking from behind, and elbowing or intentional head contact. Statistical analyses included random-intercepts general linear mixed models. CONCLUSIONS: Infractions result in higher measures of head impact severity than noninfraction collisions. Athletes and coaches should conform to playing rules, and officials should enforce more stringently existing rules and assess more severe penalties to participants who purposefully attempt to foul an opponent at the youth ice hockey level.
Guskiewicz KM, Mihalik JP, Shankar V, Marshall SW, Crowell DH, Oliaro SM, Ciocca MF, & Hooker DN. Our findings suggest that football players are concussed by impacts to the head that occur at a wide range of magnitudes and that clinical measures of acute symptom severity, postural stability, and neuropsychological function all appear to be largely independent of impact magnitude and location. Because of the varying magnitudes and locations of impacts resulting in concussion as well as other factors such as the frequency of subconcussive impacts and number of previous concussions, it may be difficult to establish a threshold for concussive injury that can be applied to all football players.
Guskiewicz, KM, Marshall, SW, Bailes, J, McCrea M, Harding HP Jr, Matthews A, Mihalik JRM, and Cantu R. Our findings suggest a possible link between recurrent sport-related concussion and increased risk of clinical depression. The findings emphasize the importance of understanding potential neurological consequences of recurrent concussion.
Guskiewicz, KM, Marshall, SW, Bailes, J, McCrea, M, Cantu, RC, Randolph, C, Jordan, BD. Our findings suggest that the onset of dementia-related syndromes may be initiated by repetitive cerebral concussions in professional football players.
OBJECTIVE: To prospectively measure immediate effects and natural recovery course relating to symptoms, cognitive functioning, and postural stability following sport-related concussion. Design, Setting, and Participants Prospective cohort study of 1631 football players from 15 ...
OBJECTIVE: To estimate the incidence of concussion and time to recovery after concussion in collegiate football players. Design, Setting, and Participants Prospective cohort study of 2905 football players from 25 US colleges were tested at preseason baseline in 1999, ...