Michael Stuart, MD, works diligently to improve concussion diagnosis, treatment and prevention for athletes
As a father to hockey players and high school and collegiate football player himself, Michael Stuart, MD, Chief Medical Officer for USA Hockey and Chair of the Division of Sports Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, knows first-hand that it’s not always best to get back in the game after a head injury. Instead, he advocates for greater education on the short- and long-term effects of concussion in order to prevent injured athletes from simply brushing off a traumatic brain injury and rejoining the game.
In addition to Dr. Stuart’s professional duties, he also serves as a founding member of the International Concussion Society’s Scientific Advisory Board, and recently spoke about his work with concussion both on and off the ice.
How have concussions impacted your life or career?
I have been impacted by concussion in many ways. I’m a sports medicine specialist, team physician and concussion researcher. I also serve as the USA Hockey chief medical officer and as an International Ice Hockey Federation Medical Committee member and Medical Supervisor. All four of our children played Division I college hockey, and all three boys played in the NHL.
Have your experiences changed your perception of concussion?
My clinical, research and administrative experiences have identified numerous opportunities for concussion diagnosis, treatment, return-to-play decision-making, prevention and avoidance of long-term consequences.
Have you ever experienced a concussion personally?
I played high school and college football during the era when concussion was not a recognized diagnosis. I sustained a concussion during a football game, was kneeling on the sideline because of disorientation and amnesia instead of joining my teammates when our defense retook the field. I eventually returned to the same game, then practice two days later without diagnosis or treatment.
Why is it so important to educate your field about concussions?
The short and long-term ramifications of concussion affect millions of athletes in our country alone. Education of players, parents, officials, administrators and health care providers is paramount.
If you could share one piece of information about concussion, what would it be?
We need to work toward better awareness, a high index of suspicion, immediate removal from play for any suspected concussion, improved diagnosis, novel treatment options and preventive strategies.
Michael Stuart, MD, 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.