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Leading Medicine Magazine, Vol 7, No 1 - 2013

21 As the quarterback throws the ball, two young football players eager to impress a college scout go for it, colliding helmet-to-helmet with a thud felt by every parent and fan in the stands. One of the receivers is slow to rise and is helped to the sideline; he doesn’t return to the game. It’s a scenario played out every week on fi elds across the country, and it underscores the toll concussion takes on young athletes. Concussion was once considered a relatively minor risk of playing sports. Today, however, doctors, parents, coaches and players are developing a new understanding of the long-term risks of concussion and other forms of brain injury — including the chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) seen in some retired professional athletes — and are working together to identify and properly treat it when it occurs. The Methodist Concussion Center is playing a leading role — not only in providing care to patients who have suffered concussion, but also in working to help parents, coaches and players understand concussion, diagnose it and treat it appropriately. This effort is aided by new understanding of the nature and risk of concussion. In years past, a football player with concussion might sit out a play or two, or a soccer coach might make a temporary substitution, but then the player would typically return to the fi eld. Neuropsychologist Dr. Kenneth Podell, co-director of the Methodist Concussion Center, has been studying concussion for more than 20 years, and he remembers this situation well. A CULTURAL CHALLENGE “When we fi rst started beating the drum about this, nobody would listen,” says Podell. “These were pros and college athletes that could care less, because it wasn’t in their mindset. They were never taught about concussion being an injury — they were taught the exact opposite: It’s nothing, it’s a dinger, you go back in and continue playing.” These decisions — by players, coaches and even sideline physicians — were partly rooted in the culture of sports. Players are conditioned to make light of injury, playing through pain and not letting teammates down. Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub — himself a high-profi le concussion victim and an ambassador for the Methodist Concussion Center — understands that feeling. Leading Medicine • Volume 7, Number 1 F E A T U R E S T O R Y


Leading Medicine Magazine, Vol 7, No 1 - 2013
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