There is an old aphorism that begs the question,
Is it the times that make the man or is it the man who makes the times?
Logically it can be argued that it is the times that make the man.
For the times are like an indomitable ocean…

which permit man only certain opportunities during specific tides…

Rare is the man who can part the sea.

When I was a boy my idol was boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
Ali transcended the sport of boxing. He made boxing – arguably more than boxing made him. For his pugilistic accomplishments, he was called the “Greatest,” but Ali’s “Greatness” far exceeded the boundaries of the ring. Unlike other historically famous athletes, Ali transcended virtually every arena of life he ventured.

A man who used his gifts to not only cut down the giants of the prize fighting ring, but also the omnipotent media in defense of his social, religious and political views. An anomaly of a man, whose emotional intellect sought value in righteousness over the comforts of self interest – who fought for his convictions at the expense of losing his boxing license, world title and wealth – who suffered ostracism by society and risked imprisonment by defying his government – in a stand against what he believed and was ultimately proven a senseless war in Vietnam.  

For his valour and humanitarian efforts, the United Nations officially named Ali a Messenger of Peace.

Physically and intellectually, Ali epitomized through living example both the definition and legend of “Ultimate Warrior.” A warrior who vanquished every adversary who crossed his path.

Except one.

But at the age of 42, Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinsonism – an incurable, degenerative disease that afflicts the Central Nervous System (CNS).

Muhammad Ali - a man who saved boxing and dared to save the world.  

But in the end, who would save Ali? 

It then dawned on me as to who are…

Mankind’s “Greatest” Heroes

When I told my dear friend, Dr. Simpson, who is now retired as a surgeon, that I was returning to medical school at the age of 50, he congratulated me. And then with a wag of his finger, he admonished that when a man enlisted to become a physician, it was an occupation that he was obliged to make his life. 

Dr. Simpson lectured that doctors today differed in many ways, “Some good. Some bad. Good – given that many doctors are specialists and therefore more highly trained in their area of specialty than when he was trained as a general surgeon. Bad – because many doctors today dedicated not their life to medicine, but rather a lifestyle.” Doctor Simpson shuddered when he told me that his son-in-law – a very successful dermatologist – had his own line of cosmetics in all the major cosmetic department stores around the world and dedicated his Park Avenue practice to giving facials. Despite his son-in-law’s monetary success, he was a failure as a physician in Dr. Simpson’s estimation.

In her book, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand posed the rhetorical question, “What would happen to the world if all the creators – who created the world as we know it – as we live in it – withdrew their works?” Of course Rand was referring to those who “wittingly” withdrew their works in the context of her novel. But what about those physicians who “unwittingly” withdraw their talents and therefore their potential creations or works for the sake of lifestyle? How are such attitudes affecting the state of medicine? As my mind weighed the gravity of this question and its consequences, I thought about some of the great people who fell ill to diseases such as Parkinsons – the loss of great people who both built and made our world. No I am not referring to only those people famous – but more intimately our friends and family. And it made me think about our responsibilities as doctors – our priorities – our obligations as both physicians and scientists to both society and our loved ones – that we must never relent – that we must tirelessly continue the fight for knowledge – for cures – so that one day we may defeat idiopathic diseases such as Parkinson’s.

Diseases that can unmercifully strike anyone – no matter how seemingly invincible – at any time.

Diseases that beckon us as physicians to make the times.

Parkinson’s Disease. ALS. Alzheimers. CTE.
These will be the next medical epidemics to severely hit mankind.

Combat sports athletes have a higher incidence of progressive neurological disorders than those individuals who do not participate in contact sports. 

The higher incidence  of these progressive neurological diseases as a result of both concussive and sub concussive blows are an “Incovenient Truth” that we can no longer ignore.  

You are one of today's medical students. One of tomorrow's medical leaders -- and you will be tasked with confronting these issues head on.

What do you tell a parent who comes and asks if it is safe to box, or partake in a mixed martial arts class? What do you say if their child wants to play a contact sport such as  American football, Hockey, or Lacrosse with his other classmates?  What do you say if they want to play a sport such as soccer which involves heading the ball?  Is it safe or advisable?  

To be prepared with answers, you must get involved now!

As future doctors we must be knowledgeable of progressive neurological diseases’ symptoms, causes, prevention, medications and ultimately the steps than are being taken to find a cure.   

Protect The Pug was created to not only protect pugilists disorders (warriors in the ring, cage and others who participate in competitive contact sports) from progressive neurological disorders, but also prevent their onset in recreational athletes of all ages who participate in contact sports and thus increase their chances of becoming afflicted.   

Protect The Pug:  Research! Petitions! Policy Changes! Innovations! Solutions! Cure!

Protect The Pug addresses the effects of head trauma, prevention, and continuous progressions  in research.  It also address current practices in sport that need to be ameliorated. Joining our cause will not only keep you updated, but it will also give you both a listing and a voice with all your other medical colleagues worldwide to contribute your talents in projects that range from blogging, research, petition, and innovation with professionals from other fields such as lawmakers in a cohesive effort to find solutions and ultimately cures.  

We are all in this together!  And we cannot do it without you!

Ignorance will only delay a cure.  To find a cure we as medical students must create a network of shared knowledge between different branches of medicine as well as different participating disciplines that contribute to the presence of contact sports.  To do this we must unprecedentedly break down borders and open a dialog between students, professors, researchers, lawmakers, coaches and athletes and everyone else who plays a role in the presence of Contact Sports.  We must all be on the same page - the right hand must know what the left hand is doing - if we are to minimize and ultimately resolve this growing epidemic.  

To do this we must make Protect The Pug viral - viral by getting other Universities on board with both the support of its teaching physicians and medical student faculty.  

Protect the Pug started its first Medical Advisory Board at Charles University in Prague which includes both a Teaching Physicians Medical Advisory Council and a Medical Student Advisory Council which includes the medical students which support this cause.  

This board has been created so that Professors and students can work together on relevant collaborative projects and medical internships that support and focus on progressive neurological disorders.  This board is listed on our University Directory Page where  members can be accessed by name and optional photo which can also be linked to their FB page.  

If your University does not currently have a presence on our website, please submit its name and also anyone who wishes to be listed either as a professor or a student member.  If you are a member of a University but know other doctors or medical students from another University please refer them to join.  
Members will offered different participation internship programs which can be used as part of their resume.

When you are done, be sure to share this important message with your other colleagues at your University of study or colleagues who are studying at other Universities!  Like the ALS Bucket Challenge, we need this call for help to go viral throughout our communities.   So please share now!

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