Dr. Shumko Shares Dangers of Concussions in Young Athletes
Dr. John Shumko, Medical Director of Sports Injury and Assessment at the Matthew J. Morahan III Health Assessment Center for Athletes at RWJBarnabas, talks about the dangers of concussions in young athletes and a bill that would require students who have suffered concussions to get permission from a health care professional before returning to school.
"Dr. John Shumko is the medical director of sports injury and assessment at the Matthew J. Morahan III Health Assessment Center for Athletes at RWJBarnabas Health. Good to see you, John. You, too, Steve. Thank you. It is challenging to protect young athletes particularly when it comes to concussions, is it not? Oh, yes, it is, very much so. And right now there is an effort afoot on the governmental side, particularly in the state legislature, right? Correct. What is it? Describe it. Well, there is two. There's one that's been out there to mandate and law for return to play. And any athlete that's suspected of concussion is removed from play and further assessed... goes through a process to make sure that that concussion recovers properly and any return to play, they do it safely. The second one is return to learn, which actually takes place before an athlete will return to full play activities. The return to learn is important because we have to remember that a concussion is a pathophysiological condition. There's nothing structural that we can see. The chemical changes that occur in a concussion cause cognitive deficits. It's more of a functional than a structural type of problem, so when doing so, there are functional deficits, cognition, difficulty concentrating, sensitivity to light, noise, headaches. So that will interfere with the athlete's participation in school. So it's important to consider that too and to return him not only to play but return him to learning in the school with accommodations and restrictions so that he is able to return safely and participate in school and not drop back and lose time. Is there anyone that should be against this, Doctor? No, I think it's crazy anybody's against this. This is all put out there to help these yet athletes that are, that sustained a concussion return safely to learning and to their playing activity. Doctor, you and I, Dr. Shumko and I have had a lot of offline conversations about this as well. I have young... We have young children who are into athletics. We've talked about our kids. I know you take care of all kinds of young people with sports injuries, explain the Morahan operation up at RWJBarnabas Health and why it's so important for young athletes. Well, you know, when we look at schools, there's... Schools kind of have followed these mandates but they're at a minimal type of response that they are, that is possible for them to do. You know, the education of the parents. The athletic trainers get, you know, education and get yearly training..."