Sport-related concussions expert Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz, who has worked with football and hockey players and coaches to advance the diagnosis and treatment of concussions, was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, which includes a five-year, no-strings-attached financial component.

Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries.

“We’re a sport-crazy society, and I think that’s a good thing,” he told the Daily Tarheel last year. “Just as exercise and sport scientists, we bear the responsibility to help improve the safety of sport.”

The Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation said Guskiewicz “was among the first to identify the long-term effects of multiple concussions, including cognitive impairment and depression in later life, through large-scale epidemiological studies of retired professional football players.”

The fellowship is a $500,000 grant, often referred to in the media as a "genius grant" for individuals who have shown “exceptional creativity in their work and the promise to do more,” the Foundation says.

The foundation says it avoids using the term "genius grant" because it connotes intellectual prowess alone, although winners often have other qualities which the foundation seeks to support.

Guskiewiz, who has worked the University of North Carolina’s Department of Exercise and Sports Science since 2005, showed that a person’s control over their balance is an important way to evaluate concussive episodes.

He created a “portable and cost-effective” system used widely by trainers to manage the injury.

Recently, by placing accelerometers in the helmets of football and hockey players, he has been focused on studying the “cumulative effects of repetitive, sub-threshold brain impacts.”

He is working with players and coaches to correct “improper tackling techniques.”

He is also focused on the policy aspect of the injury to develop stricter “return-to-play” guidelines to improve safety, the Foundation said.

Guskiewicz has received 15 funded research grants linked to his research on sport-related concussion and its long-term effects, according to his university biography.