Thursday, June 19, 2014
Doctor's Perspective Repeated concussions becoming a big issue

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Repeated concussions in sports have become a big issue recently. The media, professional sports organizations and even President Obama has addressed the long term adverse effects of repeated blows to the head. The sudden flurry of news makes it sound like repeated concussions are something new which is not true. In 1928, Dr. Harrison Martland, chief medical examiner of Newark, N.J., described a condition called Dementia Pugilistica. Dementia Pugilistica, which was found in former prize fighters, consisted of tremors, slowed movement, confusion and speech problems. Dr. Martland attributed this condition to the repeated blows to the head that boxers receive. The layman's term for the condition was to say that former boxers acted punch drunk. In 1973, a group of researchers described the findings in the brains of 15 deceased former boxers. The findings were consistent. They showed that Dementia Pugilistica was a condition that caused actual changes in the brain tissue. Some former boxers diagnosed with this condition include Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Frazier and Billy Conn. Floyd Patterson suffered so badly from it that he had to resign from the New York State Athletic Commission because of his memory problems. From a medical standpoint, I find two things interesting from the current news stories. The first is related to the approaches being taken by the various professional sports associations. They have concerns and are trying to prevent the long term problems. However, they act like this condition is something new when it was discovered over 85 years ago. The things that we are seeing in retired players is predictable. Repeated concussions are repeated concussions. It does not matter whether they come from boxing or football. The second thing I find interesting is that the professional sports that are addressing repeated concussions does not include professional boxing. In boxing you win the event if you give the other boxer a concussion. This is true if you knock him out and he cannot continue the fight. The purpose of boxing is to cause repeated concussions. Other sports are trying to remove the long term damage from concussions while boxing continues to welcome it. It makes you wonder about how someone can legitimately call themselves a fan of a sport whose aim is to ultimately give participants brain damage. We have known about this problem since 1928. Some sports act like it is something new. Boxing has no desire to stop it. It makes you wonder how much of what is being talked about is sincere and how much is just words. If you have comments about this column or suggestions for other topics, send an email to Dr. Anthony Policastro at

Affordable Health Care Act info The Affordable Care Act has caused many changes in the medical, legal and elder care professions.

How will these changes effect you? Wade Scott, Delaware Elder Law Attorney, will be presenting the Changes that the Affordable Care Act has on Medicare, Social Security, Drug Coverage, Benefits and much more this Wednesday, June 25, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Light Refreshments will be served. Call 422-8700 right away. Space is limited.

Look-In Glass Shoppe Jewelry sale Shop for jewelry, gifts and more in the Medical Staff Conference Room at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital on Monday, June 23 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesday, June 24 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Look-In Glass Shoppe at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host an "In Design" sale featuring the latest trends in fashion jewelry at great savings. All jewelry items are $6 each, designer inspired handbags and other select merchandise will be available at greatly reduced prices. All proceeds from sales at the Look-In Glass Shoppe are used toward the purchase of a new fetal monitoring system for Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Mother and Baby Care Unit. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 2475.

SAFE KIDS conference Seats are available for the annual SAFE KIDS Childhood Injury Prevention Conference which will be held Wednesday, June 25 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Modern Maturity Center in Dover. The annual conference is geared toward education, healthcare, child care and other professionals with an interest in childhood injury prevention. To register, visit, fill out the registration form and email it to If you have any questions about the conference or registration process, contact Angela Quackenbush at 302-223-1350.

Hospice 5K Run & Family Fun walk Join the fun with hundreds of runners and walkers as Delaware Hospice holds the 6th annual Delaware Hospice 5K on Wednesday, July 9, at the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford. Registration opens at 5:30 p.m., the race begins at 6:30, and the post-event cookout and party will go on until evening. Individual entries are $20, and the team rate for a group of four or family rate for a group of four or more from the same household is $50. Pre-registered participants receive a t-shirt. T-shirts will be available for same day registration while supplies last. Medals will be presented to category winners, and door prizes will be available for everyone. Register online at or contact Peggy Dolby, assistant director of development, at or 746-4666.