We have discussed how playing with a brain injury can be dangerous; more immediately dangerous for the younger athlete. However, continually disturbing the brain while it is recovering only prolongs the issue and is a detriment to long-term brain health. This is the part of sports that gives credence to the awareness and education initiative.
Apparently the NFL, specifically the Pittsburgh Steelers, does not fully grasp everything involved with and around concussions. I would think that of all the teams that should be well versed in the history of concussions and health risks it would be the former employer of Mike Webster. Along with Webster, the Steelers have been on the cutting edge of research, perhaps not the team – rather those that are associated with them: UPMC (developers of ImPACT) and Dr. Maroon (prominent author and “trend setter” for NFL concussions prior to 2008). The once proud franchise in the sports medicine realm has increasingly shown poor management of concussions; using such terms as “concussion-like symptoms” to avoid players having to leave the field of play (see Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu).
The most recent case of Polamalu is yet another example of what we are dealing with, the stigma of concussions. After another head injury this past Sunday (could be as many as his seventh), Polamalu is going to play this week;
Troy Polamalu is fine and will play vs. Bengals. He was clear and lucid by halftime but kept out because of league rules.
WHAT ARE WE DOING OUT HERE? Yes I am a bit frustrated. What message are we sending the youth and their parents about concussions? I fully grasp the fact that they are professional athletes, adults and can make informed consent decisions about knowingly creating brain damage. The layman, kids and their over-competitive parents DO NOT!!!
The mixed messages are one of the primary reasons the stigma of concussions continue. It is not going to ruin the sporting world to sit out a few games. Someone, anyone tell me how this is a good thing. And while you are at it get me a meeting with the NFL; you want to whip this issue, put it on be back burner and get people off your ass, I believe I can help.