Dr. Shubin Stein provides an orthopedic surgeon’s perspective on the life-changing impact of concussion
As an orthopedic surgeon, Beth Shubin Stein, MD, knows firsthand the devastating impact of traumatic brain injury.
“I’ve had several lacrosse players who haven’t been able to have their surgery on their knee until their concussion resolves,” says Dr. Shubin Stein. “Concussion takes them out of their social network, which is oftentimes their sport. It can also take them out of school.”
Dr. Shubin Stein is an associate professor of orthopedic surgery and sports medicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. As a founding member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Concussion Society, she is part of a group of physicians dedicated to bringing awareness to and reducing the short- and long-term consequences of concussion in athletes.
Concussion.org recently sat down with Dr. Shubin Stein to discuss her thoughts on concussion and why educating other healthcare providers on this topic is essential.
Have your experiences changed your perception of concussion? In what way?
Concussion is a much more serious injury than we used to consider it. When I started, I believed that it had to be a much more forceful head injury and a much more serious problem at the onset. In medical school, we assumed that if somebody didn’t have loss of consciousness or some other major obvious disorder, it was an acute head injury. We didn’t really think about it as a concussion. I think we have realized that it does not have to present that way.
In your opinion, why is it so important to educate your field about concussion?
I think the most important thing is raising awareness so that these injuries are recognized quickly and treated appropriately. This way, we can avoid potential long-term impact of traumatic brain injury.
The issue for a lot of us is that concussion has been under-recognized and under-treated for a long time. Especially when we see young athletes who have had repeated injuries and haven’t really had the correct counseling in terms of what to do long-term to prevent a repeat injury on the field. We also know now that multiple concussions do cause long-term problems in people.
I think the ability to reach many more people and more awareness of the problem is always going to result in better and more-thorough treatment for these young athletes. These players might have gone undiagnosed because their parents didn’t even know to bring them in, or their coaches didn’t even know that it was going to be a problem. That kind of awareness is always going to be helpful.
If you could share one piece of information about concussion, what would it be?
We need early recognition and more quantitative measures on when it is OK for an athlete to return to sports.
Beth Shubin Stein, MD, is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Concussion Society (ICS). If you are interested in supporting the study, treatment, and prevention of this common—yet little-understood—form of traumatic brain injury, become a member today. Also, make sure to check out the News and Concussion Resources pages on Concussion.org, the world’s No. 1 destination for reliable information related to concussion prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.