The most important advice would be to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or participating in high-velocity sports such as skiing, rollerblading or horseback riding. And of course, it’s also important to wear a seatbelt while driving or riding in a car.
Although wearing a helmet may not necessarily prevent you from getting a concussion, they are important in preventing more serious types of brain injuries, including cerebral contusions, skull fractures, and intracranial hemorrhages.
As the chief medical officer of the New York State Athletic Commission, what is the main scope of your job and what pressures do you face in this role?
As the chief medical officer, I medically supervise all professional boxing within the state of New York. This includes training physicians to working ringside, screening boxers for medical eligibility before they can fight and overseeing the medical services provided to injured boxers.
Boxing is a dangerous sport and one of the major challenges is trying to make it as safe as possible. Although we’ll never be able to make it 100 percent safe, there are strategies that are useful in limiting potential brain injury among its participants.
In New York, we as medical professionals have the option to terminate a bout when it becomes medically necessary. Knowing when it’s the appropriate time to make this call can also be a challenging part of the job. Probably the toughest part is having to retire an athlete from the sport when it’s no longer medically safe for him or her to play–no matter how many years I’m in this field, that’s always difficult.
Outside of the obvious reasons of pending brain damage, why do you think that concussions are being more scrutinized in sports and do you feel that there was knowledge previously about the dangers being talked about today but never discussed years ago?