International Concussion Society Co-Founder Ken Shubin Stein shares why concussions are worth fighting for
For Dr. Ken Shubin Stein, Co-Founder of the International Concussion Society Board of Directors, concussions are a personal matter. As a result, he has pledged to dedicate the next phase of his professional career to advocating for concussion treatment and research. His commitment to the cause and passion for making an impact led him to become one of the founding members of the International Concussion Society, the nonprofit group building awareness around concussions through the Concussion.Org website. And we were lucky enough to get a closer look as to what drives him to make a difference. Take a look.
How have concussions impacted your life or career?
I am directly impacted by concussion in a few ways, but I would say most substantially because of my mother, who sustained a concussion 20 years ago that continues to affect her. She experiences post-concussion syndrome, which causes her intense headaches and has made working very difficult for her. The experience touched my life in many ways, and sparked a lifelong interest in concussion research and treatment.
Have your experiences affected your involvement in the field?
My personal experiences combined with the surprising lack of existing resources for doctors, scientists, teachers, and coaches became the impetus to start the International Concussion Society. Once I began looking into the resources that are currently available, I found a startling number of information gaps. The issue is that as the field gets more attention, the more disparate and disconnected the information becomes. It’s very hard for a layperson, as well as some doctors, to get an up-to-date understanding on the best thinking across different specialties.
In your opinion, why is it so important to educate your field about concussions?
The current estimate is that in the United States, the likelihood of having a concussion is 20-25%. That means one in every four or five Americans will experience a concussion at some point in their life. Concussions are likely to affect every family in America and currently, we have so few trained concussion experts. We don’t even have agreed upon protocols and understandings. It’s important to begin educating all stakeholders to spread awareness because we really only understand just the tip of the iceberg about what is largely considered the most common form of traumatic brain injury.
How are you hoping the International Concussion Society will help change that?
The International Concussion Society will provide a trusted resource and information hub for all of concussion’s stakeholders. That means physicians, scientists, patients, families, coaches, athletes and other people involved in patient care will be able to go to Concussion.Org to get connected to the best information and resources available. That includes everything from tools to help people locate a trained concussion doctor near them to links to the best and most recent findings on the topic.
If you could share one piece of information about concussion, what would it be?
If you or somebody you care about thinks that they might have a concussion, they should radically rest until they are cleared by a specialist. This is something that I don’t think is stressed nearly enough when discussing concussion recovery. Radical rest means no TV, no emotional excitement or stimulation, no reading, no work, no going to school; just rest. It’s extremely important in the immediate post-concussion period, even if you’re not sure if you have actually had a concussion. That window is believed to be extremely important in a patient’s healing and prognosis.
Ken Shubin Stein, MD, MPH, CPH, CFA, is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the International Concussion Society. Concussion.org, sponsored by ICS, is the No. 1 destination for information related to concussion prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Our mission is to serve medical professionals, athletes, administrators, coaches, patients and the public by providing a central repository of accurate and scientifically vetted concussion research. Working alongside our world-class scientific advisory board, Concussion.org aims to be the most trusted global index on one of the most common, yet least understood, forms of traumatic brain injury.