NEW YORK, November 18, 2011 – Experts from NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies and NYU Langone Medical Center held a panel discussion on November 16, 2011 on the ethics of who is responsible for ensuring appropriate medical treatment of injured athletes– particularly focused on the diagnosis and care of head injuries and concussion. The issue is one of great concern for both professional and young athletes and a critical business and sustainability issue for sports leagues at all levels. In addition to tens of thousands of professional and amateur athletes, it is estimated that more than 40 million children in the U.S. play at least one sport. According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, 21 percent of these young athletes say they have been pressured to play with an injury.
Key takeaways from the evening include:
- 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. While medical, sports, and equipment experts are working to evolve technology, guidelines, and rules to keep contact and collision 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 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. Though the media and internet often are blamed for glorifying the violent side of sports – it has also played a key role in spotlighting the potential long-term dangers of head injuries. Professional leagues, retired players, and other advocacy groups have also helped the medical community in the adoption of best practices and in supporting better awareness in youth and recreational programs.
- 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 the desire of all athletes and many parents to continue playing.
Moderated by Arthur Miller, University Professor and Director of Public Dialogues at NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies (NYU-SCPS), the panel was hosted by thePreston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management at NYU-SCPS, the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center, and the Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation Network. The members of the panel included orthopaedic surgeons, professional team physicians, ethicists, former professional athletes, coaches, and members of the sports media, including:
- Robert Boland, JD, academic chair and clinical associate professor of sports management , NYU-SCPS Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management, sports lawyer, and former player agent
- Arthur Caplan, PhD, the Emmanuel and Robert Hart Director of the Center for Bioethics, Sydney D. Caplan Professor of Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania
- Dennis Cardone, DO, clinical associate professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, NYU Langone and co-director, Partners for Youth (PSAL)
- Harry Carson, member, Professional Football Hall of Fame and 10-year captain of the New York Giants
- Andrew Feldman, MD, clinical assistant professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, NYU Langone and team physician, New York Rangers Hockey
- Steven Flanagan, MD, professor and chair, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Langone; medical director, Rusk Institute and board member, Brain Injury Association of NYS
- Roy S. Johnson, columnist, ESPN.com; former editor and writer, Sports Illustrated; and former editor-in-chief, Men’s Health and Savoy
- Claudette Lajam, MD, assistant professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, NYU Langone and team physician, USA Cycling
- Dino Mangiero, head football coach, Poly Prep Country Day School, Brooklyn and veteran of six NFL seasons
- Chris Nowinski, co-founder and president, Sports Legacy Institute; co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine; and former professional wrestler, World Wrestling Entertainment
- Ted Shaker, president, Mercury Media; former executive producer, CBS Sports and CNN/SI Network
- Brendan Shanahan, senior vice president of player safety and hockey operations, National Hockey League; veteran of 22 NHL seasons
- Gerard Varlotta, DO, clinical associate professor, Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, NYU Langone and ringside physician, NYS Athletic Commission
- Lesley Visser, sportscaster and member, Professional Football Hall of Fame
The discussion was held in front of several hundred medical, law and sports management students and local coaches. The panelists are available to comment further on the issues discussed and a video replay is available by going directly to YouTube.