Political Football: Irv Muchnick

14 Oct

Irvin Muchnick is a writer and investigative journalist who previously mainly focused on the WWE.  Muchnick has changed gears a bit and started Concussion Inc, a website focusing on the head injury issue.

On Friday, on Beyond Chron, Irv Muchnick wrote about the appearance of a conflict of interest between the Centers for Disease Control and the National Football League, in regards to the upcoming panel and recommendations.  In the article Irv was right to point out that the federally funded CDC is taking outside monies for the first time;

A CDC spokeswoman admitted to me that the NFL’s $150,000 grant for “Heads Up” marked “the first time the CDC Foundation has received external funding to help support” this initiative, which has a decade-long history encompassing various outreach to health care professionals and patients, school professionals, sports coaches, parents, and kids and teens. (CDC’s own funding for this program has averaged around $200,000 a year.)

Which brings into question who will be in control of the recommendations?  Will the people shaping the foundation of concussion management, aimed at athletic trainers and doctors, actually have representatives in place?  I am not talking about the usual suspects that may hold a MD or ATC tag – the ones who do Yoeman’s work in the research field – rather some of the “boots on the ground” if you will.  Yes there are some out there that take into consideration the dynamic of actually being in the pressure situation of sports, especially on the sideline: Steve Broglio, Kevin Guskiewicz and Margot Putukian (she is currently on the NFL Head Neck and Spine Committee) come to mind.  However there are others that would provide another different view on concussions, especially the management: Bennett Omalu (pathophysiological side) Don Brady (from the school side) and myself (as a practicing athletic trainer).  Will the likes of those individuals – and others like them – who seem to be independent from the NFL, get the opportunity to help evolve what has become a difficult situation.

As Irv also wrote in his article;

But the real question is: How many more kids have to die or become disabled by the ill-advised activity of tackle football while the CDC studies the issue up the wazoo with “experts” either hand-picked or influenced by the NFL?

Point of clarification from a commenter;

I think it’s important to note that the CDC Foundation is independent of the CDC. The function of the CDC is to connect “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with private-sector organizations and individuals to build public health programs that make our world healthier and safer. ” http://www.cdcfoundation.org/who/story The NFL agreement would be a perfect example of this. The NFL is supporting the Head Up program and there is no reason to believe as of now that they are influencing CDC recommendations.

I DO NOT claim to have all the answers, in fact the more I get into concussions the more questions are raised in my mind.  What I do know and have experienced is the processes by which we have gotten to this point.  I see the kids every day, I use the tools that are coming out, I talk to parents, I educate coaches, I promote the CDC information to uniformed physicians, I practice what is preached, and guess what…  Some of it works and some of it does not.  The most effective way I have found to get the proper and safe results stems from EDUCATION and not just one meeting, but many-many-many talks and informational flyers.

What I am gravely fearful of is that all the information I give, and all the mechanisms I invoke to protect the athlete will be missed by one person and we will have to all learn from the worst kind of experience, from the unfortunate death of an athlete.  In order for this not to happen on my watch, and hopefully on no one elses, I will continue to scream from the highest point I can find;

THE INJURY OF CONCUSSION IS GOING TO CONTINUE TO OCCUR, WE MUST PROPERLY MANAGE AND TREAT THE INJURY IN ORDER TO PROTECT THE LIVES AND LIVELIHOOD OF THESE INDIVIDUALS.  EVEN IF IT MEANS TAKING SITUATIONS (removal from play for extended periods of time/adjustments to youth sports) AWAY THAT WILL HARM UNIFORMED ADOLESCENTS.

6 Responses to “Political Football: Irv Muchnick”

  1. Jeffrey Driban October 14, 2011 at 12:29 #

    Dustin: Interesting post. I think it’s important to note that the CDC Foundation is independent of the CDC. The function of the CDC is to connect “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with private-sector organizations and individuals to build public health programs that make our world healthier and safer. ” http://www.cdcfoundation.org/who/story The NFL agreement would be a perfect example of this. The NFL is supporting the Head Up program and there is no reason to believe as of now that they are influencing CDC recommendations. It is important to carefully monitor this situation and site like this one will be great for that. We should be cautious about suggesting that the NFL may be influencing the recommendations before we even see what the final product is. The last thing we want to do is undermine good recommendation and provide people reasons to ignore what might be an important next step for concussion. We want to encourage the CDC and support their efforts (particularly when they take notice of sports medicine) rather than undermine their progress.

    On a side note: There is also a Foundation for the NIH that fosters public-private partnership. These foundations may represent a vital component for the future of these agencies as Congress seeks out areas to trim the budget.

    It’s important for the CDC to study this up the wazoo to because plenty of people are going to criticize any decision they make. There’s plenty of people out there that are prepared to argue with any recommendation they make. That’s another reason they will need our support.

    • Dustin Fink October 14, 2011 at 18:50 #

      Jeff,
      Very good comment, I appreciate it and take your word for it I appreciate the clarification.

  2. Mark October 14, 2011 at 18:04 #

    Casson, Vianno, Pellman 2006

    Neurosurgery

    ” Blows directly to the chin or lateral loads through the chin strap may also increase the risk of clinical concussion, because the chin protrudes forward of the head. This may also explain why boxing blows directly to the chin, a hook often results in knockouts. It may be possible to engineer different facemasks and different chin straps that limit the rotation and displacement occurring from loads forward of the head cg and z axis of the neck. Such equipment IMPROVEMENTS, might lessen the incidence of concussion in ALL football players”

    Interesting finding, yet no significant, in depth research in this area has been done to date.

  3. Joe Bloggs October 14, 2011 at 23:03 #

    The NFLs history of muddling the issue and promoting conflicts of interest should cause everyone concern.

    The money the NFL has applied over the years has been to buy silence not promote science. As more data becomes available, football is likely to become boxing. A once dominent sport, reduced to a side show.

  4. Mark October 15, 2011 at 17:46 #

    The NFL won’t bite, Joe, why isn’t the mainstream media skewering these guy’s. It’s the right thing to do, yet many who were hot on the trail seem to have been decommissioned or reassigned to another desk. Irv seems to be the only independent voice in the land of the free.

  5. Barbara Brock October 17, 2011 at 09:25 #

    My name is Barbara Brock. I am a published research author of the standardized Reality Comprehension Clock Test ( 1999 RCCT Brock,B., et al).

    I wanted to make you aware of this powerful test and how the RCCT can provide a quick VISUAL VIEW of injured athletes actual COGNITIVE SKILLS in REAL TIME.

    The RCCT can be administered by RCCT trained, sport medicine staff quickly from the sidelines of any sporting event.

    Unlike LANGUAGE based assessments (currently being used) the RCCT identifies and reveals COGNITIVE DEFICITS when the injured athlete replicates the RCCT clock drawing example ALONG THE SIDELINES.

    The RCCT is quick, easy and most of all allows heath care professionals to IMMEDIATLY SEE any potential cognitive deficits that may have occurred due to a concussion the athlete experiences during a sporting event.

    The RCCT also identifies the athlete’s Spatial Skills and Risk of Falling.

    MUST SEE- You can VIEW case study with pictures of injured athlete’s RCCT clock drawings on our web site at: http://www.clocktestrcct.com
    Click on Athlete’s Concussion- Pugilistic Dementia

    If you are interested I have the entire case study of this concussion injury which gives in-depth information regarding the RCCT’s valid and reliable scoring method and how RCCT data leads to SAFER medical decisions for athletes when they experience a concussion

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