While away on a family vacation I don’t get to the researching/data mining I usually do, inevitability there are events and happenings that occur that get push back in coverage. The nice thing is that the media and other sources are doing a wonderful job of highlighting the issues that come about. There are a few instances of concussion related news that I would like to now opine on.
First and most concerning was the Olympic woman’s soccer match between the United States and New Zealand and this;
Not only can you clearly see the keeper get hit in the head and having a violent deceleration, then her head smashes the turf, not only that she was CLEARLY unconscious after this hit, yet she was allowed to continue. If the governing bodies of sports want to get a handle on the concussion issue then cases like this must be handled with supreme independence and a player should be removed. Take a look at this picture and tell me she should have continued…
I will be as obnoxious and abrasive as possible with this next statement:
IF ANY PLAYER IS KNOCKED OUT FOR WHAT EVER REASON THEY SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM ACTIVITY, PERIOD. SCORE AND CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD NOT HAVE A BEARING ON THIS DECISION. SAID PLAYER SHOULD NOT RETURN TO ACTIVITY UNTIL CLEARED BY A PHYSICIAN AFTER AT LEAST 24 HOURS.
We are talking about a disruption of the brains activities so “gross” that the only function the body can perform is breathing and heart pumping. Ever thought of driving your car at highway speeds after you lose a tire? (OK not a good analogy but best I could come up with, ha).
NFL concussions are well on the way for 2012, if you have been following @nflconcussions you will note he has found 16 thus far, and checking with last seasons numbers that is slightly lower for this time last year. What can be made of this? Not much yet, the actual numbers are more reliable in the regular season but I would hazard a guess that we will see at or slightly below the concussion number we found last year, 171 regular season – 217 combined with preseason and postseason.
Thirdly and finally for today I want to discuss Javid Best and Clint Sessions. Both players were concussed on multiple occasions last season and have yet to be cleared for this year. Is this concerning for the players and teams, of course, the fact that it is taking those players a long time to recover is telling me, and should be them, about their brain health at the moment. Can they return to being an NFL player? Absolutely, but extreme caution must be paid attention to, and the teams are undoubtedly doing just that.
A lot of people have said these players should be medically retired due to history of concussion, I don’t agree with this. A couple of reasons; one they are professional adults and can make life long decisions at their age. If they know the risks associated with continuing the action and ramifications of further damage and want to continue then that is their right. Now if they expect to get compensated for engaging in further risky behavior then we may have an issue there.
It is quite simple to see that a majority of NFL players will have some sort of either co-morbidity or lasting morbidity (PCS) with repeated head trauma. The key to all of this is can there be steps taken PRIOR to getting to the NFL to help these athletes? And can we institute enough change via awareness that the youth are not exposed to this violent head trauma before they are physically and mentally ready?
Recovery is long for both Best and Sessions and their next hit may be their last for their chosen profession… But, that holds true for EVERY player in the NFL.