This award recognizes an alumnus or alumna within 15 years of graduation who has excelled in his or her profession and has contributed to Arizona State University and/or the ASU Alumni Association and the community.
Javier Cárdenas, M.D., is being honored for his work in the field of pediatric traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, specifically, the prevention of concussion injuries in young student athletes.
Dr. Cárdenas majored in special education at ASU, and his experiences in the field with his pupils provided the motivation to attend medical school and specialize in pediatric neurology. After graduating from the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine in 2004, he completed residencies in pediatrics at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and in neurology at the Barrow Neurological Institute. At St. Joseph’s, he was named Pediatric Intern of the Year and Outstanding Resident Teacher of the Year.
At the Barrow institute, Dr. Cárdenas has become Arizona’s foremost expert in the diagnosis and treatment of concussion. He founded the Barrow Concussion Network, which provides mandatory concussion education, pre-injury testing and post-injury medical resources to student athletes at all Arizona Interscholastic Association schools. He created the Barrow Brainbook, the nation’s first mandated concussion education program and test for student athletes, and played a role in the launch of the Barrow Brain Ball, a video game application for children ages 8 to 12 that teaches youth involved in contact sports how to avoid collisions with other players. Dr. Cárdenas played a key role in helping to write concussion legislation in Arizona.
Dr. Cárdenas trains other physicians in the treatment of concussions through the Department of Child Neurology at the Barrow Neurological Institute. He also participates in advocacy training through the Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum of the American Academy of Neurology, and he is also a long-time volunteer for the Special Olympics in Arizona.