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“Bell Ringer: The Invisible Brain Injury”

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  • Justin Crum
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You’ve heard it described before: after an impact, athletes sometimes experience blurred vision, dizziness, headaches or up to 20 other symptoms. Many describe these symptoms as “getting a ding,” or “getting their bell rung,” but these aren’t simple injuries that can be overlooked or walked off. A doctor would call them concussions, a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI).   

It’s estimated there’s over 3.8 million brain injuries a year in athletics, and they occur more commonly among children and students than star athletes. The process of safely managing these injuries is multi­-layered and complex — continually changing as we learn more about the brain. Through interviews with former professional players, renowned researchers, and top athletic trainers, AETN original documentary Bell Ringer” — which premieres April 7 — dives into the complexities of the injured brain, explaining not only the effects of concussions, but how to handle them when they occur and the best methods of preventing them altogether.

Featured in the film are former athletes Monte Coleman (Arkansas native, three­-time Super Bowl Champion and current University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) football head coach) and Michelle Akers (a two-time Women’s World Cup Champion), both of whom suffered multiple concussions during their careers. Also featured in the film is the story of Zack Towers, who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury during a football game that eventually led to his death. His mother Christy Rasico, stepfather Roger Rasico, and brothers Ty and Jon Taylor, all share their personal testimonies in the documentary.

AETN produced “Bell Ringer” in response to “The Arkansas Concussion Protocol Act” of 2013, as well as Act 1214 of 2011, which requires coaches to complete training on concussions.

Experts interviewed include: Dave Halstead, Technical Director, Southern Impact Research Center; Mike Oliver, Executive Director, NOCSAE; Dr. Robert Abraham, Neurosurgeon, NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital; Billy Elmore, Master Trainer, Heads Up Football; Terry DeWitt, President, Arkansas Athletic Trainers Association; Tom Talavage, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Purdue University; Chad Williams, Athletic Trainer, North Little Rock High School; Jason Cates, Head Athletic Trainer, Cabot School District; and Joey Walters, Deputy Director, Arkansas Activities Association.

Filming of “Bell Ringer” took place at Ouachita Baptist University; University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; University Of Central Arkansas; Southern Impact Research Center in Rockford, Tennessee; North Little Rock High School, Hall High School, West Memphis High School, and Cabot High School. The film was produced by Justin Blake Crum of AETN.
"Bell Ringer" will be available for online professional development credit for Arkansas state licensed educators via the ArkansasIDEAS portal (


“Bell Ringer”


Thursday, April 7, 2016

“Bell Ringer,” 7 p.m.

“Arkansans Ask: Concussions,” 8 p.m.