Page 29

Leading Medicine Magazine, Vol 7, No 1 - 2013

A SURGE IN PUBLIC AWARENESS OF THE RISKS OF CONCUSSION ON AND OFF THE PLAYING FIELD HAS BEEN AN IMPORTANT PART OF CHANGING THE CONVERSATION AROUND CONCUSSION. Methodist Concussion Center co-directors, Dr. Kenneth Podell (left) and Dr. Howard Derman (right), work with Houston Texans quarterback and concussion center ambassador Matt Schaub (center) to support the center’s mission to help parents, coaches and players understand, diagnose and treat concussion. GROWING PUBLIC AWARENESS A surge in public awareness of the risks of concussion on and off the playing field has been an important part of changing the conversation around this minor traumatic brain injury. New medical recommendations require a player who has suffered a concussion to cease play for the day; laws such as “Natasha’s Law” in Texas make concussion awareness training mandatory for public school coaches; and parents are taking a more active role in ensuring that their children’s athletic activity doesn’t put them at increased risk of complications later in life. “I’ve seen a phenomenal swing of the pendulum,” says Podell. “What I’ve started to see is that young kids over the years have been told that concussion is an injury, it’s serious, you’ve got to be careful about it. And they’re used to getting baseline testing for concussion, they’re used to being pulled from competition when they were kids. And if you’ve had that mindset since you were playing Pop Warner football or high school football, it stays with you.” In the greater Houston area, the Methodist Concussion Center is the epicenter of an ongoing outreach and educational program to teach coaches, parents, youth and adult athletes, and even the general public, to understand and recognize the symptoms and risks of concussion, and accept the importance of treating it not as just a “ding,” but rather as a serious injury requiring careful medical care. Methodist physicians are actively involved in conducting awareness training for school and league coaches. The Methodist Concussion Center provides, at nominal cost, preseason ImPACT (Immediate Postconcussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) tests for athletes — providing a baseline assessment that can be used for reference if a concussion should occur. And the concussion center hosts and sponsors public and media events aimed at raising general awareness of concussion, its treatment and its risks. As the official spokesman for the Methodist Concussion Center, Schaub has seen the work firsthand, through The Methodist Hospital System’s role as official health care provider for the Houston Texans. But he feels its benefit extends well beyond the professional playing field. “It helps the general public and the community to offer a place where they can go and they can get the knowledge and the resources to help them,” he explains. “So many concussions are being had, through automobile accidents, through youth sports and through normal kids playing out in the backyard. But they’re often overlooked because parents, teachers and coaches don’t know how to properly diagnose them. “Ultimately, with the kids, you have to protect them and watch over them,” Schaub says. “As parents or high school or youth league coaches — being able to recognize these things can help a lot of these kids out.” Schaub’s participation has been an important part of outreach efforts at the Methodist Concussion Center, and for good reason: young athletes look up to their idols in the professional ranks. Fortunately, public awareness seems to be closely tracking increased understanding at the professional level. Podell, who has worked as a consultant to numerous professional sports teams, has seen it firsthand. “I’ve seen some pros in the last year or two who are telling me, ‘I still don’t feel quite right; I’m close, but I don’t want to risk it — I’ve got my little girl to worry about,’” he says. “The mind shift is there.” n To learn more or to find a specialist, visit methodistneuroinstitute.com or call 713-790-3333. Leading Medicine • Volume 7, Number 1 23


Leading Medicine Magazine, Vol 7, No 1 - 2013
To see the actual publication please follow the link above