Steelers Hosting Second-Annual Concussion Symposium Today

Today will be an important one in Pittsburgh as Heinz Field, but it won’t directly be about the Pittsburgh Steelers. While the team is sponsoring and helping to host the event, today’s Concussions Symposium—the second annual, after the team sponsored the first as well a year ago—will allow UPMC Sports Medicine to take center stage.

Bob Labriola talked to Dr. Mickey Collins, the Executive and Clinical Director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, for an article about the event posted yesterday, and he certainly had a lot to say about it in a manner that revealed his passion.

“We’ve been beating this drum for a while, that this is a treatable injury, and we just continually improve our outcomes and our abilities to attack this injury in the right way and get kids back to play safely”, he said. He believes that the field has to combat with a great deal of misinformation about concussions that gets passed down to not just coaches and athletic staff but to parents, and that is an issue that the Symposium is looking to address.

“What’s new is we continue to refine our treatments, we continue to refine our rehab protocols, we continue to understand the complexities of this injury and that if you match the right treatment to the right problem, then you’re going to get someone better from this”, Collins said of the advancements in the field of concussion research. He said that they are continually getting “better at getting kids healthy and back to play”.

What is different about this Symposium—which Collins believes is unique around the country—as opposed to last year’s is that it has been opened to wider venues, including all sports, not limited to football any longer. But the greatest opportunity is to speak directly to the coaches and trainers, those who deal most directly with players, to identify, treat, and monitor concussion symptoms.

“It’s not very often that you get to talk to the gatekeepers to this injury, and the fact we’re talking to athletic trainers and coaches, they’re a very important audience” the director said. “I’m pretty confident we’ll be successful. Our whole treatment team will be talking, and it’s going to provide the right information to the correct people”.

“We’re going to show people that there are different types of concussions and that there are different treatments for these different types of concussions, and when you match the right treatment to the right problem we have good outcomes. That’s what will be shared at this Symposium”.

This might be in contrast with the perception some might have of such an event. This is very much a pro-sports, participatory event that is looking to face the reality of concussions and how best to treat them and prevent them where possible. Continual progress is being made in improving recovery rates, which is very important work.

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