Last Tuesday the New York University and its Langone Medical Center hosted a panel discussion about the ethics and responsibility of who handles injuries on the field of play, including/focusing on concussions. The list of those taking part in the activity is very lengthy, here is a sampling; Harry Carson, Chris Nowinski, Brendan Shanahan and other MD/DO/important people in this area.
What come from the panel re: concussions was not breaking news rather one of erasing a stigma;
- Understand the issues: A great deal has been learned about concussions in the last 10 years, but they are complex and can be difficult to diagnose, especially on the field. While medical, sports and equipment experts are working to evolve technology, guidelines and rules to keep contact sports safe – equipment alone does not protect the brain from being jarred during contact.
- Awareness is vital: The more players, trainers, coaches, parents and sports organizers understand about the real – and often hidden – dangers of head injuries, the more likely the right decisions will be made on the practice field, sideline or locker room. Professional leagues, retired players and other advocacy groups also help the medical community develop best practices and support better awareness in youth and recreational programs. The media and internet play a key role in providing information on the potential long-term dangers of head injuries.
- Everyone is responsible: All panelists agreed – no matter what the age or level of play – when a potential injury to the brain is involved there is no gray area: athletes must be removed from play and receive appropriate medical attention despite any desire of the athlete, and even a parent, to continue playing.
The only issue I take with this press release and “take away message” is the very fist sentence of the first bullet point. Concussions are not difficult to find, they are rather easy if you use the correct definition, a disruption of normal brain activity. I would be willing to lay good earned money that nearly 100% of all athletic trainers could identify one, and really a lot of coaches would be able to identify one. I would also like to say that a lot of doctors miss this brain injury simply because imaging says there is nothing wrong.
The issue is not one of diagnosis/assessing it is one of full disclosure and integrity when it comes to the injured. Some times winning and professional pressure (looking at you NFL) makes some not listen with their eyes.
Again the issue is not the injury it is the mismanagement of the injury. Acceptance needs to occur for us to move on to a solution.