We Prepare – You Perform

2 Mar

It is that time of the year again to point the spotlight on the countless, often faceless, professionals that do much more that many know in protecting your physically active peers.  This year the message is “We Prepare You Perform” and has many different meanings to many different people.  I want to take this time and space today to tell you what this means to me.

It still happens, I get the occasional “what do you exactly do” comment/question from people.  Certainly most of that comes from those that are not in a sporting type setting, be it at the HS level or connected to professional sports in an interest type of way.  However, it is a great question that I love to answer even though it can get tiresome realizing that our profession is not universally understood.

What “I” do is not that different from what other athletic trainer does.  Bringing it to a more practical analogy, it is not much different that what one does a parent; as I have learned being a father of three.  What we do is make the lives of those in an active lifestyle or profession safer and when warranted BETTER.  The core foundation of this comes from preparation, period.

WE PREPARE.  You imagine it, there is a good chance we have prepared for it in the active arena.  This goes for sports, where the vast majority of athletic trainers are employed, to the industrial setting where the hard-working, blue-collar workers need to be at their best as well.

The easy cop-out would be to say this comes from our education, at least four but increasingly more like six years of study.  Sure that is some of it, but the reality is that no matter what you learn in a classroom setting has little to do with what we do on the “ground” in our profession.  The more complex and reality of the preparation we do comes from experience and adapting.  Constantly thinking of what could happen — and we don’t want to happen — and how to react in those situations.  The first time Continue reading

Athletic Training: Why I Love My Job

27 Mar

Dustin Fink:

A great read! And excellent write up!

Originally posted on I Train Therefore I Eat.:

I’m an Athletic Trainer.

Oh, so you’re a gym teacher? NO. 

Oh, so you’re a personal trainer? NO

Oh, so you’re a strength coach? NO

Wait, so what do you do?

Believe it or not, this type of exchange actually happens a lot.  It’s funny, because athletic trainers (ATs) are everywhere. Most high schools, colleges, semi-pro teams, Olympic teams, professional teams, and basically any organized athletic association has them. Athletic Trainers work for corporations, for the military, as physician extenders, and in the performing arts (Yes, Cirque du Soleil employs athletic trainers for the performers).

Athletic Trainers are on TV all the time. Although they’re usually being called “trainers” by the talent at ESPN or your local news organization, so I don’t blame you if you don’t know who we are.

athletictrainer

I work at a small Division III college in Boston, and along with my colleagues, am responsible for the…

View original 1,301 more words

Photo Essay #NATM2015

24 Mar

Feel free to send in a note, picture, video about your favorite Athletic Trainer or the profession itself.  I don’t know where the credit goes but DANG ITS AWESOME!!! (click to enlarge)

AT make

Mouth Guards (5/5/14) — How is this study not retracted?

19 Mar

It has been nearly a year since I wrote this up, but it has been making the rounds again.  I honestly want to know why this “peer-reviewed” article has not been retracted.  This is one of the most blatant oversights I have witnessed in publications, and that is not hyperbole.  Read the following for yourself:

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Is it a bombshell or is it just a plain dud?  I say bombshell, but not in a good way for anyone involved with this “research”.

Last week I was inundated with emails regarding this “new” research about mouth guards and concussions.  There were roughly 16 emails in a one hour time span; some wanting comment, some telling me I have been wrong all along, some promoting the research.  This was a “huge” development in my area and my little corner in the blogosphere.  To fully understand perhaps some history is needed (“mouth gear” search on this blog) when it comes to my feelings on mouth gear and concussions.  Here are some selected comments attributed to me;

The basic fundamentals we should be cognizant of here are: concussion is a BRAIN injury, the BRAIN floats inside skull, Physics dictates that the BRAIN will move depending on the forces applied to the skull/head (not always from a blow to that area), mouth gear cannot stop the BRAIN from moving, mouth gear cannot attenuate any forces to the skull/head that are not in the oral region, mouth gear does nothing for the skull/head when forces are placed on it in rotational, angular, acceleration or deceleration fashion.

Now that we have that all out-of-the-way this is the General Dentistry article I was asked to comment on.  On face value and from a “peer-reviewed” angle itseems all good.  A significant finding between custom mouth gear (noted as LM MG in article) and over the counter “boil and bite” mouth gear (noted as OTC MG).  However once you take a deeper look there are some peculiar problems, in my humble opinion – that comes later.

First, we should look at the possible limitations of this study that seems well populated and well thought out (honestly these were my first concerns before finding the real issue):

  • Were the injuries controlled for by football position? (we have documented this issue here)
  • Were the injuries controlled for by size of players/school they were playing?
  • Were the injuries controlled for by playing time? (more exposure more risk)
  • Were the injuries controlled for by game vs. practice?
  • Were all the injuries seen and recorded by a single MD or was it the ATC at each school?
  • Did any of the players have a previous history of concussion?
  • Was the study controlled based on practice habits of the teams? (do some hit more than others)
  • How do we know that every player complied with the “no wedging or chewing” rule? (this plays a massive role later)
  • The study says that all 412 subjects wore the same exact helmet, I find that: A) hard to believe and B) was the fit on every player the relatively the same?
  • Who funded this research? (no disclosure)

As you can see there is a litany of reasons I would have dismissed this research, if I were peer reviewing because those limitations are extremely real and realistic Continue reading

Borland, Now What?

18 Mar

If you are interested in sports or the brain trauma/concussion debate you probably did not miss the news about Chris Borland’s abrupt retirement from the NFL and the San Francisco 49ers.  In case you missed it, he broke this news to Outside the Lines on ESPN.

Since he made his decision there has been quite the discussion regarding why and what this means in the long-term; not only for football but for the awareness angle of this injury he has cited for his reason for hanging them up.

But what does it really mean, beyond the #hottakes from all over the internet?

When Borland decided it was his time walk away he knew there would be great interest, well had to know.  It has not been the norm to see a 24-year-old to retire due to concerns over long-term effects of repetitive brain trauma.  Most people in his position, now and going forward, are probably more concerned about making a living playing a game they love and a good one at that.  But think about the ripple effect of this news.

First, remember when Jake Locker decided to retire?  Hardly now, I bet.  Or Patrick Willis, from the same 49er team?  A bit more memorable because of his stature, I bet.

But both of those decisions were pale in comparison to the news from Borland, who until he retired I and many hardly knew him outside of very devout followers of the league and team.  The reaction was a combination of mass hysteria and shock with everyone waiting to chime in their opinion.  We saw nothing like that from the other two more “high-profile” players before Borland.  Why was this… Continue reading

#NATM2015 YouTube Video – OATS

11 Mar

From my home state of Illinois, I give you Oswego High School…  Make sure you see the interviews at the end of the video!!!!!!!!!!!

Well Done!

NATM 2011 Letter (3/22/11)

6 Mar

This post is from March 22, 2011 and is great to bring back for all to read.  I am unaware of any changes in Paul’s professional life, but this remains relevant!

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During the month of March we will continually highlight the work of an athletic trainer.  This series will incorporate open letters about the men and women of the profession from other professionals, the aim is to have at least one a week.  If there are others out there; parents, coaches, teachers, doctors, lawyers, athletes or anyone that would like to form a letter please do so and send it to theconcussionblog@comcast.net.

I have saved this letter for publishing toward the end of the month, because we should be thinking about what an athletic trainer does every month, and every day if you are lucky enough to have one around.  Paul LaDuke Jr. is a full-time athletic trainer for a public high school in Pennsylvania and has “uber” years devoted to athletic training.  Not only does he provide daily coverage, he has recently created a blog entitled “Promote The Profession” devoted to Athletic Training.  Paul has been a wonderful resource and “reality check” for me during my process.  It is an honor that he took time to write this letter;

What is it like to be an Athletic Trainer? Continue reading

Taylor Twellman Story (9/21/2010)

2 Mar

Originally posted on The Concussion Blog in September of 2010.  I would be interested to see Taylor talk about this in a reflecting manner and see if anything has changed with him and his thoughts on concussions in the sport he loves.

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Just ask Taylor Twellman, a soccer player from the New England Revolution how unpredictable they are.  In 2008 near the top of his game and the American leagues he ran full speed into the goal keeper, creating a whiplash effect on his body, most namely the skull.

To this day Twellman has not had a single day without some post-concussive effects.  He was only just recently, June, released to begin light activities.  Granted this is a professional athlete that has a career to think about, his health remains his number one priority.

Monique Walker of Boston.com ran a story about him and his not so quick recovery from concussion.

For our adolescent population this can be even more devastating, a delay in recovery could mean a decline in grades, an emotional disconnect from teammates, and a social decline in school.  All while the brain and personality are still developing.

If you get your “bell-rung” make sure you communicate that with someone who can help.

Be Prepared

2 Mar

Dustin Fink:

We Prepare, You Perform.

Originally posted on Athletic Training and Fitness:

Be Prepared– A motto that the Boy Scouts introduced. And a concept that Athletic Trainers practice.

Be Prepared. For what? ANYTHING. Athletic Trainers are prepared for just about anything. We take the time to prepare prior to a game or practice so that you can perform fully. We prepare for emergencies. We prepare for weather.

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Dr. Gifford-Jones Opinion Article (9/30/2010)

24 Feb

Originally posted on The Concussion Blog in September of 2010…

If you are reading this from Canada you know Dr. Gifford-Jones.  If not, you probably do not.  He is a doctor that has his opinions and editorials published across Canadian newspapers.  His most recent, about concussions is so good I am going to post the entire thing here.  Thank you to The Expositor.

Do you know how much trauma the human brain sustains in contact sports? Unless you’re a concussion specialist, few parents, coaches, athletes or even doctors have much knowledge about the extent of this injury. Concussion is like sugar and salt. Few people are aware of the amount they’re receiving, and all three can be lethal.

Recently, 28 million people watched as the Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Stewart Bradley collapsed on the field. Players frantically called for medical help. To everyone’s surprise Bradley, after a mere four minutes, was back in the game. At half-time, doctors diagnosed his condition as concussion.Later, critics asked why Bradley was not immediately removed from the game. The lame excuse was that a sideline examination showed no concussion. Moreover, Continue reading

2015, A Transition Year for The Concussion Blog

23 Feb

Exactly what this transition will be is yet to be determined…

As time has passed since starting this blog in 2010 I have traversed many topics, many places and many relationships using concussions as a conduit.  I must say it has been overwhelmingly positive and beneficial; I can only hope it has been the same for those on the other end.

When I and we began there were many unknowns — plenty still remain — and much misinformation about concussions hence the starting of this monster.  The spotlight shifted to this issue in sports and life around 2011-12 and has since taken a life of its own.  As we have gained information into this debate, injury and recovery this blog has lost a lot of its unique luster, to me as the sole provider of content.  Over the time of this blog there has been great interest into my insight and ability to communicate which has spawned many opportunities for me, for which I am grateful.  I also feel this blog and the work put in here by me and others has contributed to the overall increase in awareness and other information sources on this topic.

I still have the passion for this niche in sports medicine and general education of the public and those that are seeking it.  I welcome all the emails and the contact for those that deem my intuition and expertise on this matter valuable; I will not turn away a chance to set the record straight or give my opinion on something related to concussions.

However, I have realized that I do not have the time or impetus to continually blog (as if it wasn’t obvious by my lack of posts over the past few months).  There are many factors playing into this and if you care to know Continue reading

The World’s First Peer-Review Medical Journal with a Primary Focus on Concussion

12 Dec

Concussion information is moving at a warp speed, it seems, compared to the long history of other medical issues that we face and hear about – cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.  In fact, concussion is not an acknowledged speciality of the medical field, yet there are more and more monies and time being devoted to this current issue.

It was only a matter of time before some smart people figured out a way to create a journal dedicated to concussion.

Current Research: Concussion has been published and fits this bill, to a “t”.  This peer-reviewed journal is being published by Canadian publishing house Pulsus Group Inc., who has published other journals such as: Current Research: Internal Medicine, Current Research: Cardiology, Pain Research & Management, Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, and more.

Full disclosure, I have known about this journal for some time and have been chomping at the bit to let all of you know about this possible resource and place of publication for concussions.  Alas, since I have been included in the publishing (more on this later) I was not allowed to divulge this information until now.

What makes this publication so interesting is not only the emergence of a tailored journal for concussion but that the online content is open access.  Anyone and everyone can read this information; from the usual suspects of academia and research to the mom’s and dad’s who care to garner more evidence-based technical education.

Although the publishing and brain-child of the journal hail from Canada the editorial board is rife with very prominent figures, north and south of the border:  Continue reading

Being From IL, People Want To Know What I Think of Law Suit Against IHSA

8 Dec

Sq 300 JI have been asked by many people what my thoughts are on the first law suit filed against a state high school association in regards to concussion.  With this coming in my “home” state of Illinois, people figured I would have a strong statement or unique perspective.  I have struggled with coming up with exactly what I wanted to say and could not figure out why.  This is in my wheelhouse, commentary on recent and public events; one would think it would have been natural.

Then, I figured out why I couldn’t come up with something…  BECAUSE I ALREADY DID, 29 MONTHS AGO!!!

Almost like I could see into the future.  Below is what I wrote here and sent off to the Illinois High School Association in May of 2012.  Looking back on it I still feel strongly in the proposals and the rationale.  Take a quick look for yourself:

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I have been working on this letter for a little while but was really spurred to action by the parent in Maryland, Tom Hearn who discussed his concerns with the local school board.  I have tried and tried to use the “chain-of-command” with these thoughts and ideas, however at every step I got the feeling I would have to go alone on this, so I have.  This letter may or may not reflect the opinions of my employer, high school, athletic training sanctioning bodies, or others I am involved with.  This letter is from a concerned individual who feels I can spread the message effectively by these means.  I have emailed the letter, proposals and the Sports Legacy Institute Hit Count White Paper to all Executive Directors and Board of Directors of the Illinois High School Association.

OPEN LETTER

May 15, 2012

Illinois High School Association
c/o: Marty Hickman, Executive Director
2175 McGraw Drive
Bloomington, IL 61704-6011
(309) 663-7479 – fax

Dear IHSA – Executive Directors, Board of Directors and Sports Med Advisory Board:

I am writing this letter to address the growing concern of concussions in sports, mainly in football.  It should be noted that football is not the only sport with a concussion issue; however this sport combines the highest participation, highest risk, and highest visibility.  This letter should not be construed as an attack on the sport of football, but rather a way to keep the sport continuing to grow.

As a licensed and practicing Athletic Trainer, researcher, commenter, father, and survivor of too many concussions, I feel that in order to keep the sports we love, proactive steps must be taken.  Often being proactive is a painful process and easily dismissed because of the trouble it will cause.  I urge all involved to think about what the future of all sports will be if nothing is done.

The Illinois State Legislature with the IHSA took the initiative by creating a mechanism of concussion education and awareness in response to the mounting scientific evidence of potential long-term impairments resulting from mishandling of this injury.  However, this only represents a first step in the process; passing out a flyer or having parents and athletes initial that they have read the information is one small element of the issue.  Another crucial element of the issue is coaching. We must ensure that those we entrust with the care and leadership of our children understand Continue reading

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

6 Dec

In a time when I truly feel strongly that we should collaborate rather than look down noses’ at other peoples work and words within the concussion realm there seems to be none of that with a recent report from TSN, Canada.  Although I did get a chance to read, I really didn’t have the perspective that, say, a Canadian would.  Insert Terry Ott, who has penned some very interesting articles here, in regards to concussion coverage and information — particularly in Canadian Football — from north of the border.

I believe Mr. Ott presented a very fair summation of the information provided — mainly the Tator quote — via TSN.  It has been very interesting to see how different places handle the concussion issue, from North America to Europe to Australia.  For the most part it mainly has to do with the “biggest #&^!” in the room.  Which is not always the best way to accomplish the same overall goal: tackling the concussion issue — head on!  (see what I did there?)

Remember, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” -Japanese Proverb

Now for Terry

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TSN CANADA REPORT DEMONSTRATES DIFFERENT NORTH/SOUTH CONCUSSION PERSPECTIVES

HAMILTON

Dec. 6. 2014

TERRY OTT

In Canada, The Concussion Blog has come an awfully long way in the past 18 months.

Prior to its ongoing addressing of the concussion crisis in the Canadian Football League the site was definitely for seekers of specificity of brain injury and prevention, but certainly not pertaining to the CFL. Canuck readers were limited.

All of that changed last July when The Concussion Blog broke the story of the first concussion related lawsuit filed in Canada by former CFL player Arland Bruce. The Concussion Blog is now required reading for many interested parties of Canadian football and the northern medical community researching brain injury.

And now, Canadian-based The Sports Network (TSN) which previously had cast a rather jaded TV and radio eye on the Arland Bruce concussion lawsuit now seems to be seriously pursuing the story with a Dec. 3 piece by Continue reading

#HelmetSelfie Chat 1-2pm EST

2 Dec

A Twitter chat is about to begin hosted by @injuredkids – Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma: Funding Research, Education & Awareness to help save the lives of injured kids.


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2014 NFL Concussion Report: Week 12

1 Dec

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League (posted when time allows).  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  You can also view our white paper with original research about concussion reporting in the NFL from 2010-2012 HERE.

Where has this post been?

It has been 11 weeks since this report last was published, a long time.  For those that looked forward to this weekly post, I am sorry, time has not allowed me to be on the ball for weekly information.  However, that does not mean we have not been cataloging the concussions within the NFL.

Lets be honest, the constant concussion information has been almost to a point of overload for many, this includes me.  The weekly contribution on NFL concussions has been “lacking” due to where I have been, so please amuse me while I explain.  When the blog started it was for the dissemination of obscure, yet pertinent, information on concussions.  This included the founding of the NFL Concussion Report (first of its kind) which was, is and will be used for public research.  At times other media outlets have used this report for reference and in a naive manner I think that those that really care and can affect change look in on this from time to time.

With greater coverage from media, social media and the policy changers a lot of my “niche” has been filtered away from me.  I have been in the process of finding another angle/branch of this massive issue to keep people informed.  My biggest contribution going forward will be providing commentary about research and developments in the concussion realm.  I will be continuing to champion original research and testing products that come to the market for further opinion.

In reality I have gone no where, but I have published less.  So that is where this post and I have been.  Thanks for listening, now to the meat of this post.

82

Eighty-two is the number of concussions found in the NFL through 12 weeks of regular season football.  This number is significant.  Not significantly high, rather it continues the trend from last season of having overall lower numbers.  Depending on what color glasses you look through this can be a good thing or a strange thing.

Certainly we would all like to see lower numbers, it would mean some of the changes within the sport at the highest level have been working.  It would be tough to discern which exact method was doing this but less concussions would be a good thing.

However, if you were paying attention you would have noticed that it took 11 weeks (71) for the NFL to surpass the number of concussions found in the five weeks of the preseason (68).  It would be even more peculiar that through 10 weeks of regular season football there were five teams that had not reported a single concussion.

Following that tweet, I noticed something else;

So, two teams had reported a concussion following that first tweet.  And one week later, in week 12, Tampa Bay and New York Jets reported a concussion.  That only leaves Atlanta as the only team without a regular season concussion.

It’s because of these little nuggets of information and coincidence that one could possibly be jaded about the concussion reporting numbers.  There are other anecdotal tales of players being removed for concussion protocol and then returning to the field that also fuel this fire.  However, the later is not something that “bothers” me, in fact, it is a good thing, in my humble opinion.

The number “82” represents the lowest concussion total the past five years to this point in the season, by 20 or slightly over 25%.

Trends

Even with lower numbers there are trends that continue to hold, as seen in the past four years.  The most Continue reading

NFHS Develops Concussion Guidelines for Football

13 Nov

In what has been a long time coming the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has released the long-awaited guidelines from their concussion summit in July.  The NFHS is basically the governing body that most, if not all, states look to when implementing rule changes in sports, policies for participation and for sports medicine advice/guidelines.  Many states do not act, even with good information, with out the NFHS “seal of approval”.

This has been evidenced in the past when it comes to concussion “mitigation”, in terms of undue risk – contact limitations.  There have been many states that have not waited for the NFHS (California, Arizona, Wisconsin come to mind) while there are others that sat on their hands regarding this topic.  Regardless of where your state is/was it now has some guidelines to follow when it comes to the controversial topic of impact exposure.

Before I post the full press release from the NFHS, I would like to highlight the recommendations from the 2014 NFHS Recommendations and Guidelines for Minimizing Head Impact;

  • “Live” and “Thud” are considered full-contact
    • I really like that there is a clear definition
  • Full-contact should be allowed in no more than 2-3 practices a week; 30 min a day and between 60-90 minutes a week.  Only glossed over was the fact that theNFHS strongly suggests that there should not be consecutive days of full-contact.
    • A great place to start, although there are a vast majority of programs, around here, that do not do more than 2-3 times a week.
    • The time limits are great.
    • Unaddressed is the specific back-to-back days of games to practice.  For example a Monday game and Tuesday full-contact practice.  Sure common sense should prevail, but there will be plenty of loophole finding on this issue.
  • Recognition of preseason practices needing more contact time to develop skills.
    • Obviously a sign that these guidelines are taking everything into consideration.
  • During 2-a-days only one session should be contact.
    • THANK YOU!
  • Review of total quarters played for each player
    • This has been one of my biggest points of contention with any concussion policy.  The risk for injury during a game is much higher and kids that play multiple levels have an exponentially higher risk.
    • Although nothing more was stated than above, this should get people talking and moving.  The issue, of course, will be monitoring this.  Regardless, the fact that this important point is included is a massive thumbs up!
  • Considerations for contact limits outside of traditional fall football season
    • Acknowledging the ever-growing practice of off-season practices.
  • Implementing a coach education program
    • Ideal for understanding all of this and the issues we face.
  • Education of current state laws and school policies (if schools don’t have one they should)
    • Putting pressure on the institutions to take some onus.
  • Emergency Action Plans (EAP) and Athletic Trainers should be utilized
    • AT’s should be at both games and practices.
    • EAP’s should be in place and the best person for taking care of an EAP is an AT.
    • The first “governing” body that has firmly suggested the use of athletic trainers for football at all levels in practice and games.  This is truly noteworthy, and appreciated.

Auspiciously omitted from this document was USA Football’s “Heads Up” tackling program.  They referenced the USA Football definitions of level of contact and coaching courses; but never mention the embattled “Heads Up” program.  I must say, my confidence in the NFHS has skyrocketed after reading this, and a lot has to do with the people on the task force.  I am looking squarely at: Mark Lahr, Tory Lindley, Steve McInerney and John Parsons.  Those gentleman are of the highest quality and character when it comes to athlete safety.

Here is the full press release…  Continue reading

This Is Unacceptable, In My Humble Opinion

24 Oct

Yesterday I wrote about concussions and the difference between professionals and adolescents using Jamaal Charles as an example.  What happened last night on the professional field with millions watching was completely unacceptable, professional athlete not withstanding.

Late in the third quarter of the game, last night, San Diego’s defensive back Jahleel Addae (#37) ran into a pile to finish the tackle on the Denver running back.  He was running at full speed and led with his left shoulder, but as he made contact with the RB his head dropped and he also made (incidental) helmet to helmet contact with the runner.  This type of collision is very frequent and looked innocuous…  Until you saw the after math…

Addae was bounced back, still on his feet, and began “short circuiting” for the national audience to see.  He begins to look around, kind of, and stumble, kind of, and lose full control of his extremities, all of them.  As a medical professional and athletic trainer I would have documented this OBJECTIVE finding as “unsteadiness and disorientation”.  It looked like a boxer/MMA fighter catching a fist/kick in the face late in a boxing match; the type of reaction that any referee in those sports would stop a match for and award a TKO to the other guy.

It happens from time to time in this and other sports, that is not the issue here.  The issue is that Addae returned to the game (oh, it gets worse).  Here is the tweet from last night (h/t to Brady Phelps’ Vine);

https://twitter.com/concussionblog/status/525487638481235968

From what I can piece together this play was the last of the 3rd quarter and reports had him taking the field on the first play of the 4th quarter.  HE DIDN’T MISS A SINGLE SNAP!  Even with the long commercial break between quarters there is a maximum of 4 minutes, but if my DVR time was correct it was between 2 and 3 minutes.  This is not nearly enough time for a full concussion evaluation, by anyone.

“Maybe he was screened, like you said yesterday, Fink.”

There was absolutely no reason for a cursory “screen” in this situation, Addae showed a clear and overt sign of neurological impairment, in concussion recognition jargon: a sign.  When any player shows a sign there is no screen it means Continue reading

Jamaal Charles; No Different Then Vast Majority of Competitive Athletes

23 Oct

Last week when the Chiefs played the Chargers running back Jamaal Charles scored a touchdown and was blasted in the end zone by Brandon Flowers.  A shot that Charles bounced up from and headed to the sideline while Flowers was slow to get to his feet.  The hit was helmet to face mask and the resulting forces were a classic case of what is typically needed to produce a concussion for one or both of the players.  Whether or not it actually did, we will never “officially know.”

The issue is not with the hit or the fact that Charles apparently cleared the screening done on the sideline after such a hit, the issue is with his comments a few days after on the Dan Le Batard show;

“It definitely hurt,” Charles said. “A couple plays later, I just [saw] this light buzz around my eyes and I was trying to catch ’em. But I was like, ‘Let’s get the ball and run again.'”

I am 100% confident that Head Athletic Trainer Rick Burkholder did his job on Sunday – screening Charles after the hit – it was evidenced on Tuesday/Wednesday when Burkholder placed Charles in the protocol as a precaution solely due to the comments Charles made.

Why you may ask?  Simple, by the absolute letter of the definition of concussion – disruption of normal brain function following a traumatic event – Charles admitted he was “not normal”.

Whether or not Charles had a concussion is up for debate among many people, not only externally – us blogging/media type – but likely internally – Charles and med staff.  Here in lies the problem with concussions and the issue of concussions.

As we tried to explain in the University of Michigan post, concussion is most often a subjective injury, we as medical professionals rely upon the athlete or injured to tell us what is going on.  If there are no overt or outward signs (loss of consciousness, wobbliness, gaze, vomiting, etc.) then all we can do is screen the athletes.  And by screening I mean simply asking the athlete if they are OK.

GAMING THE SYSTEM

I heard Mark Schlereth on Mike and Mike this morning saying something to the effect of; “there has to be more than just asking the player if they are ‘OK’?”.  The truth of the matter is that there is not really anything other than that; although just asking one question is not due diligence.  In my experience I ask more questions and even try to trick athletes into giving up any ruse they are trying to pull on me.  I have a to questions and line of questioning that has produced many responses that then warranted them to be fully examined with a sideline evaluation, even for the best “liars” (I won’t share them here because it can be used for people to study and then find a way around it).

The more complex yet simple reason we as athletic trainers feel confident with screening, even with limited questions, is that we know the athlete.  Their usual demeanor, behavior and general presentation.  People often ask me how long it takes me to know if someone has a concussion.  When they are my players, the ones I am around on a daily basis, usually it takes me Continue reading

Terry Ott: Concussion Coverage from Canadian Media is Woefully Lacking

22 Oct

The original purpose of The Concussion Blog was – and still is – to inform those that choose to look about concussions.  Part of this goal has been looking deeper into issues and “lip service” given to the brain injury we know as concussions.  In 2010, when the blog began, this was a novel idea and much of what was written here was “breaking news”.  Along with that, opinions that I shared on the issue were meant to be coming from someone with vast and dynamic experience in concussions.  The initial thought was this was to be a “clearinghouse” for concussion information – and it succeeded.  As years have passed and the media here in the United States has slowly caught on and passed along, mostly, the correct messages TCB has been slower.  However, that does not preclude us from posting information/opinion that we feel needs noticed.  Examples of this have been our white paper on NFL Concussions, the mouth gear controversy and general editorials on published research.

In the past year TCB has been lucky enough to have a journalist spend his own time investigating a part of the global concussion story, in Canada.  Terry Ott, as you may have noticed many of his articles here on the blog.  To be clear, this was all his work and I have become his one and only outlet for his sleuthing and writing.  As he can attest to I don’t always agree with his tact or his tone, but his information is important, especially because in Canada there seems to be a void in the information that would be important to most.  We here at TCB are glad to file his reports as long as he and others understand this is a conduit for discussion and discovery.  I have zero intention of “killing a sport” or “getting someone in trouble”, rather shedding light on some of the problems and issues we face when dealing with concussions.

All of that being said I present to you Ott’s latest (hopefully last here because someone in Canada needs to pick him up) on the concussion issue as it relates to the Great White North.

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WHEN IT COMES TO FOOTBALL CONCUSSIONS, CANADIAN MEDIA BADLY OFFSIDE

Recent New York Times Article Throws Flag

Hamilton, Ontario

October 22, 2014

For the past year readers of The Concussion Blog have learned about the nascent football concussion awareness movement going on in the Great White North, mostly pertaining to how the Canadian Football League, and the mainstream media, have handled-for lack of a better word-the issue.

Years behind the National Football League on the matter, the CFL nonetheless saw the first concussion-related lawsuit come its way last July, accompanied by media attention, much of which was a critical and sometimes downright hostile questioning and smack-down of former 2013  CFL’er Bruce’s groundbreaking statement of claim against the nine member teams of the CFL, neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator, Tator associate Leo Ezerins, and several other parties.

The lawsuit, among other things, alleges that the CFL member teams, and specifically some of Dr. Tator’s published research on TBI and CTE-partly funded by the CFL-mislead Mr. Bruce into believing he was not vulnerable to serious and long-term consequences from concussions he received while playing for the BC Lions. None of the allegations have been proven in court and Tator has filed a defense-covered here previously-that asks for the suit against him to be dismissed, with costs.

Yet other than one small article on former 80s era CFL player Phil Colwell, whose brief story and concussion-related problems appeared in his hometown KW Record paper in Ontario, last spring, your correspondent has been unable to place a single word in any other publication in Canada.

If it were not for Andrew Bucholtz of the Yahoo! Canada CFL 55 yard Line Blog sometimes linking to my stories here, few outside of the Concussion Blog’s sphere ever would have known about what did, and what continues to go on in Canada regarding football concussions and especially, their aftermath. Besides a small mention in the Vancouver Sun by journalist Mike Beamish when the Bruce story hit, no one in Canada besides Bucholtz saw the story as important enough to follow-up, and he has done fine work on his own regarding the concussion problem. As of now, I don’t believe Andrew is on many CFL General Manager or team PR weasel Christmas card lists.  (TSN, the CFL’s television carrier did do a piece on their website about the lawsuit in September that mentioned The Concussion Blog, but it was subsequently removed from their archive shortly after my last story for this site last month, and for reasons so far presumed, but actually unknown at this time to this writer. And I have not seen another story in the Canadian media on the lawsuit since.)

And a week ago, after reading in the Winnipeg Free Press a flattering tome on Dr. Tator from last July that appeared just before he was named as a defendant in the Bruce lawsuit, your correspondent reached out to the paper inquiring whether they would entertain a slightly different take on Tator’s research and related concussion issues via an Op-Ed.

However, after being ping-ponged back and forth between editors at the paper, I was told by an Op-Ed editor that the concussion issue was not “topical,” despite the Jevon Belcher CTE story breaking that week and despite the fact that Winnipeg is home to a CFL franchise. But rather, I was informed,  “Ebola” was of more import to their readers than what is essentially a real world and serious public health concern right now that surely can not be adequately explained by just one or two opinions, opinions which are even controversial within the medical and research community.

Likewise a kiss-off from my hometown CBC News website, whose editor, after some initial back and forth, just stopped responding to my e-mails and never published a piece I wrote on concussions in July even though it partly concerned the former Hamilton Tiger Cat, Phil Colwell.

TVO, the Canadian version of PBS, runs a show called The Agenda-and hell, the guy that hosts it has Hamilton roots!-that never met a contentious or important issue it did not glom on to and yet after receiving one return e-mail from a producer back in July commenting on my “unique” insights, I never heard another word.

Even the nice gal who runs TVO’s documentary film division, after initially offering to ask around if any of the filmmakers she had association with would be interested in the concussion story, none of my further e-mails were answered.

And, after being shut-out by nearly every institution purporting to be doing valid research into football concussions in Canada, I endured a recent 6 week runaround afforded me by the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont. which is supposed to be “partnering” with the Canadian version of the Sports Legacy Institute, but certainly did not do much for their reputation for cooperation with journalists trying to ask valid questions.
So after over a month of BS and excuses, I got nadda from them. I actually felt bad for the PR lady who drew the short stick to deal with me, and then she just stopped responding altogether.
To say that some of my dealings with the Canadian media and medical academia would be a joke, would only serve to denigrate comedy.

So obviously, the question is, why?

A veteran of the sports medicine community in Canada speaking on condition of anonymity said that many in the medical community were “afraid” of upsetting Dr. Tator, who carries much weight in medical academia and research grants around these parts.

The source said that many in the closed community are “buzzing” about Tator  being named in the Bruce lawsuit but do not want to be featured in any story seeming to critique the doctor the TSN story described as “renown.”

However, the New York Times apparently does not have a problem featuring a different Canadian medical professional who, unlike Dr. Tator, does not believe CTE  from football concussions is still open for (serious) debate.  Continue reading

Constantly Learning and Watching: There is a Time to Act

16 Oct

It has been a truly busy season – in regards to injuries – where I perform my “day job”.  I was going over some records that I keep and this season has been the busiest in my 15 years.  In fact, when discussing with peers they too have had a high volume of injuries in the training room.  I would say it is karma; last season we were as slow as I could remember.

Part of what I do in my job is to evaluate the injuries and determine if there are any that could have been prevented.  Certainly preseason preparation – weights and conditioning – is a huge factor and we did that here, but there is always a place to learn and watch to make adjustments.  In reviewing the injuries (over 50 – not all concussions) I’ve encountered that required medical care beyond the athletic training room the results were “good”.  Only three were incidents that I considered “preventable”, one of which I posted about weeks ago. That is less than 10% of injuries that could have been prevented, which is good, not great, but good.  In years past I have seen numbers as high as 25-30% of injuries that I deemed “preventable”.  I take pride in doing my job and if I can prevent every single incident and only have injuries that occur on a “random” basis I will take it (has yet to happen in my 15 years).

Before we go further, I would like to give a glimpse into how I review injuries.  We will use a tib/fib fracture we had this year; this player was injured in a game and to me that is “un-preventable”.  However, a few years back we had a tib/fib fracture that occurred in practice – a practice with only “uppers” on and players were not supposed to take anyone to the ground – that incident was considered “preventable” to me.  If players and coaches were vigilant to the rules of practice that player would never have been rolled up on during a tackle.  Concussions are similar…

I feel that concussions can be “prevented” in practice with contact limits and proper technique during drills.  The other two incidents, thus far, I deemed preventable occurred in practices and were concussions.  One player was hit by a teammate during a non-contact soccer drill as a “joke” and the other did not use good judgement and ran into a pile and was rocked.

The take home here is that most injuries are part of sports and we must accept this.  Also, athletic trainers have much more to worry about and analyze than most think.

All of the observation and learning also pertains to return to play; whether that be orthopedic rehabilitation or concussion return to play protocol.  We, as athletic trainers, must express our voices when there is something going on that is a player safety issue.  This can be as simple as modifying team warm-ups all the way to the case I had yesterday.

One of the concussed kids was on his final step for RTP (full contact practice), he is Continue reading

Weighing in on Michigan Situation

1 Oct

If you follow college football or listen to sports radio there is a good chance that you have been exposed to the story of Michigan quarterback, Shane Morris, and the apparent failure to keep him from the field after sustaining a head injury.  The official story from the University is that it was a communication error.

Believe it or not, that could be exactly correct.  Now, were there some possible missteps along the way by ALL involved, yes.  Is there one single person or policy in place that is to blame, no.  I offer some perspective before everyone eviscerates their choice of target in this case, lets take a look at how this could have went sideways.

The Player

Morris was roughed up a bit as the game progressed; he is a sophomore QB that was just elevated to the starting position on a premiere football program.  Certainly he displayed some orthopedic distress as he was limping heavily after a play – how many times have we seen players play through ankle/knee/leg/foot injuries and some times even celebrated for doing so.  Morris was playing through pain trying to help his team, but what happened next need not happen; however the player himself has a lot to do with how it will and did go down.

After Morris was hit in the head he attempted to get up and was obviously unsteady on his feet, he even waved off the medical team.  I have been told by a good source that he even told the sidelines it was his ankle that was the issue, not his head.  Which is entirely plausible, but due to the mechanism of the previous play would be unlikely the main reason for his wobbliness.

Athletic trainers as medical professionals are not omnipotent but we sure are close (ha) when it comes to injuries on the field/court of play.  We do rely upon input from other human beings to make quick and decisive decisions.  Doing so, in some instances, can end up creating a delay in proper treatment as it did in this case.  Morris’ insistence that he was ‘OK’ immediately after the hit was taken for face value in that very short period of time.  Considering the confluence of all the other factors for player safety – his ankle, his immediate response to the sideline, his demeanor – he was not ripped from the field.  To be honest here, I have never seen a coach, teammate, athletic trainer or other – in the college or professional ranks – step on a field to remove a player that got up and “shook it off”; usually it takes the player going down and staying down for that to happen, if he/she does not leave the field under their own volition.  Because of this, it is on the player to make sure they are seeking the proper care for their own well-being.

After the next play, Morris was removed for evaluation of his injuries.  Part of that evaluation included his head and the team Continue reading

The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics Issue Worth Bookmarking

24 Sep

Twitter is such a wonderful thing!  You can get so much information is such a short time; sure there is a ton of unsolicited information that one may have to weed through, but the benefits outweigh the bad – at least for us here at The Concussion Blog.

Such an instance was getting a tweet at me about a journal and a particular issue.  The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Volume 42:3 to be exact.  In this volume all of the pages are filled with concussion related issues, after all it was titled: Concussion and Sports.

I cannot speak to the “prestige” or “reach” of this particular journal, however I can post the link here (above) for you to bookmark for some reading on where the tone of med-legal is going in relations to concussion and sport.

Topics include:

  • Youth Concussion Laws
  • Requiring receipt of concussion related materials (a study)
  • Coach Support
  • Informed Consent

At the link you can download, free, the journal and its articles.  It might be worth some time to investigate and look into what we may be facing.

Players Against Concussions (PAC) Foundation Begins

23 Sep

PAC Image

I received an email and press release about a new foundation for awareness on concussions.  PAC was conceived by Jim McMahon (NFL) and Jeremy Roenick (NHL). PAC’s mission is to become a global leader in concussive education, research and treatment. They have many athletes on board to support this mission as you can see from the invite (bottom). The athletes are the voice in telling their personal stories.  I thought I would pass it along.

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Jim McMahon and Jeremy Roenick Launch Players Against Concussions (PAC) Foundation To Support Concussion Awareness and Prevention

Foundation Kicks Off With Star-Studded PAC Golf Event in Westchester, NY October 6th

Greenwich, Conn. (September 22, 2014)—The numbers are staggering: In 2012, nearly four million athletes suffered concussions, double the number from 2004. Every year, 20% of high school athletes suffer a concussion during any given sports season, and concussion rates are even on the rise among middle schoolers. Concussions often go undiagnosed and multiple concussions can lead to higher risk for permanent neurologic disability. On the flip side of these troubling statistics, sports brings joy to millions and is, without question, a cherished part of our society and culture. Players Against Concussions (PAC) is a new nonprofit organization founded on the uniting principles that we all love sports—but we all want to make them safer. Conceived by Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and NHL All-Star Jeremy Roenick, PAC’s mission is to unite the full spectrum of the sports world—athletes, leaders in research and medicine, coaches, parents, athletic brands and equipment manufacturers—to create a forum and platform where innovation and ideas can be shared to advance the end goal of preserving the sports we love—while making them safer for all who play them.

The PAC mission begins on Monday, October 6th, when celebrities and professional athletes from across the country converge on the Pelham Country Club in Westchester, New York to participate in the First Annual Players Against Concussions Golf Outing. Sponsored by Guidepost Solutions, the daylong kick off event will begin with a morning brunch and press conference from 10am – Noon, followed by an afternoon round of golf, and will conclude with a cocktail hour and dinner beginning at 5pm. Athletes scheduled to attend include Jeremy Roenick, Jim McMahon, Mario Lemieux, Michael Strahan, Darius Rucker, David Cone, David Wells, Ken Daneyko, Rick Rhoden, Bode Miller, Tony Siragusa, Nat Moore, Richard Dent, Otis Wilson, Kevin Millar, Stephane Matteau, Roy Green, Jackie Flynn, Victor Green, Kevin Butler, Joe DeLamielleure, Claudio Reyna, Debbie Dunning, and Jeremy Lincoln (with more athletes and celebrities to be confirmed).

“This is a deeply personal issue for me as both a player and a parent,” said McMahon. “I loved every minute of the football I played as a kid and during my professional career, but Continue reading

Terry Ott: Canadian Concussion Law Suit Begins Its Slow Crawl To Resolution

23 Sep
In July this blog broke the news that Canada was facing its first law suit based on concussions in their professional football league.  Since that time there has been plenty of information, misinformation and general commentary about this issue in Canada.  The fact remains that this is a long way from getting settled, if you remember correctly the concussion issue in America took over a year to get “settled” and even now it is not completely final/finished.  Although there has been coverage in Canada (which has limited this blogs need to post/present about it) Terry Ott continues to beat the trail and get information to  present in his unique way.  With that backdrop I give you Mr. Ott’s latest filing…
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DEE-FENCE!
“Absence Of CTE” Doctor Files Defense in CFL Arland Bruce Concussion Lawsuit, But Claims to be “Outside The Knowledge Of” On Many Relevant Concussion Issues
HAMILTON
September 23, 2014

Just as it was a long way to Tipperary, it is surely a long way to go before the Arland Bruce III concussion lawsuit against the CFL, its member clubs, CFL Alumni director Leo Ezerins and Dr. Charles Tator and Krembil Neurosciences Center (KNC) ever comes close to a courtroom, or even any kind of resolution.

However, the legal equivalent of a punt has begun, and court documents obtained for this story provide for a very interesting if limited insight as to what can be expected in this first of its kind case in Canada.

On Sept. 10, the Vancouver BC firm of Harper Grey LLP, and attorney Nigel Trevethan filed a defense on behalf of Dr. Charles Tator,  denying or described as “outside the knowledge of the defendant” all but three parts of Bruce’s claim, only excepting that:  1. Tator is affiliated with Krimbil, 2. the KNC is based in Toronto,Ont. and 3. that Dr. Tator is the director of the Canadian Sports Concussion Project; these are the only facts that “are admitted” in Bruce’s 47 page statement of claim.

And while much of the above is pro-forma legal to-and-fro tiddlywinks, some of the “denied” and “outside the knowledge of the defendant” defenses as described in the Tator response to the civil claim are, ah, questionable to this reporter. (See attachments provided below.)

For instance, according to the filed document of defense Dr. Tator denies that he knew or should have known that:  Continue reading
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