Guest Post from Deborah L. Benzil, MD, FACS, FAANS
Chair, AANS/CNS Communications and Public Relations Committee
Care Mount Medical Group
Columbia University Medical Center
Mt Kisco, New York
Apples crisp and red fill Farmer’s Markets
School corridors echo with new shoe squeak
Cooling evenings draw in fast while
Gridirons fill with collegiate cheer and NFL opening day
It is the time of summer’s end
Time to bring focus to world of concussions
As summer draws to a close and millions of students head back to school, much is happening that turns our thoughts to the topic of concussions. Neurosurgeons have long been at the forefront of the diagnosis, treatment and understanding of traumatic brain injury (TBI) — from the mild to the most severe. For decades, our efforts in this area were little noticed or appreciated, unless you or a loved one had the misfortune of suffering a TBI. In the last decade, however, high profile events, along with the impact of social media, has resulted in increasing attention focused on this subject. Recently, the following events have all drawn attention to concussion:
- David Goldberg’s death after falling off a treadmill;
- Mohammed Ali’s death related to Parkinson’s after years of boxing;
- Junior Seau’s suicide;
- Natasha Richardson’s skiing death;
- Sara Burke’s tragedy on the halfpipe; and
- Concussion (the movie) starring Will Smith.
At first, the spotlight fell heavily on professional athletes and celebrities. Increasingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Congress, and neurosurgery are working hard to raise awareness and educate the public that everyone is at risk. Here are key #ConcussionFacts:
- At least 200 out of every 100,000 individuals experience a concussion;
- Each year, more than 500,000 head injuries in the U.S. occur;
- Increasingly, the elderly are suffering concussions due to falls;
- The leading sports-related cause of concussion is biking;
- TBI is a major cause of death in children and young adults; and
- Concussions cost the U.S. $75-100 billion annually.
A focus on concussions, by necessity, crosses many topics including research, treatment, prevention, public advocacy and public information. As a result, numerous organizations play a prominent and interwoven role. Some of the key players are:
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH);
- U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs
- U.S. Congress;
- National Football League (NFL), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Hockey League (NHL), USA Football, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and other sports organizations;
- Prevention and advocacy groups like ThinkFirst, Brain Injury Association of America, and BrainLine;
- Scholastic and youth sports groups, including Pop Warner;
- The AANS, CNS and other medical professional societies such as the American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the American Academy of Pediatrics; and
- Athletes and parents.
Given the complexity and importance of this subject, Neurosurgery Blog will focus the entire month of September on concussion. In the coming days, you can anticipate broad coverage including:
- Latest in research trends;
- Back to play guidelines;
- TBI treatment guidelines;
- Head injury in the military;
- History of neurosurgical contributions to understanding and treating head injury;
- The rise of technology in treating patients with head injury; and
- Advocacy efforts.
Neurosurgeons are leading the way in the prevention and treatment of concussions, and we are steadfast in our commitment to raising awareness about concussions to ensure the safety of the public.
Editor’s Note: During the month of September, we encourage everyone to join the conversation online by using the hashtag #ConcussionFacts.