NYU Panel Discuss Proper Medical Treatment of Athletes

Experts from New York University's School of Continuing and Professional Studies and NYU's Langone Medical Center recently participated in a panel discussion regarding the ethics of who is responsible for ensuring appropriate medical treatment of injured athletes. Particular focus was paid to diagnosis and care of head injuries and concussions. The issue is one of great concern for sports leagues and athletes at all levels of play - especially the more than 40 million children in the United States who participate in at least one sport. According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, 21 percent of young athletes say they've been pressured to play with an injury. Key takeaways from the panel discussion include: • Understand the issues. A great deal has been learned about concussions in the past 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, on the sidelines and in the locker rooms. Though the media and the Internet often are blamed for glorifying the violent side of sports, they also play 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 adopt best practices. • Everyone is responsible. All panelists agree that - 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 by players (and sometimes coaches and parents) for them to continue playing. Moderated by Arthur Miller, professor and director of public dialogues at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the panel included orthopaedic surgeons, professional team physicians, ethicists, former professional athletes, coaches and members of the sports media. The discussion took place in front of several hundred medical, law and sports management students and local coaches, and a video of the event can be found here.

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