Hunter Hillenmeyer Discusses NFL Concussion Issue

15 Nov

With the NFL we struggle to grasp the issues that surround concussion and players.  In a perfect world the athletic trainers would yank a player at every instance of possible concussion and run a sideline evaluation.  If the player clears, great, but he missed some plays and if he didn’t they did a great job getting him off the field.  It’s not that easy people, heck I struggled for two years to have this type of mechanism at my high school (been in effect for the past three years).

Perhaps the best way to understand the issue better we should listen to the candid and sobering comments from a former player – who had his career end because of concussions – Hunter Hillenmeyer.

On the Boers and Bernstein Show on 670 The Score of Chicago they spent a good chunk of time talking to Hillenmeyer.  I strongly urge you to listen to THIS PODCAST.  Hillenmeyer discusses: the biggest issue I fear on the NFL sidelines – conflict of interest (about 6:20 mark), being labeled concussion prone (8:35), talking about talking with current players about concussions (8:50) and much more.

I have reached out to Hillenmeyer to invite him to write something up for the blog to follow-up this interview.  He has opened up before;  will see how that goes.

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One Response to “Hunter Hillenmeyer Discusses NFL Concussion Issue”

  1. George Visger November 15, 2012 at 19:06 #

    I was a member of the 1981 SF 49er’s Super Bowl championship team, when I developed hydrocephalus (water on the brain), from concussions and underwent emergency VP Shunt brain surgery. This was during my second year in the NFL at age 22, as I was coming back from my first knee surgery. They drilled a hole in my skull, inserted a tube into the ventricles in the middle of my brain, ran the tube under my skin to a pressure valve and pump on the back of my head, and ran a drain tube from there down the side of my neck, under the skin on my chest, and into my abdomen to drain spinal fluid from my brain 24/7. Back then, we were also worried about being labeled concussion prone as Hillenmyer stated, or a “paper head”, as my homeless 49er room mate Terry Tuatolo states in the following interview, after I tracked him down last month.

    Channel 13 News Sacramento 10/29/12 Terry Tuatolo interview
    http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/video/7898539-former-nfl-linebacker-falls-into-homelessness/

    I suffered my final “diagnosed” concussion which ultimately caused my hydrocephalus in the first quarter of a Dallas Cowboy game during the prior season in 1980 (see link below).

    KRON4 News in San Francisco …http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZpnI6W2 Sg – 114k – Cached – April 18, 2012 … George Visger, author of the ebook “OUT OF MY HEAD: My Life In and Out of Football” (January 2012), was featured in this report on KRON4 …

    I was told later in the week when I began to remember things, that the trainers and team doctors gave me 20 – 25 smelling salts during the game to keep me on the field. They laughingly told me they would give me a few whenever I came out, I would pop a couple under my nose, shake my head and go back in the next series. This was with the doctor’s and trainer’s oversight.

    Not only did I have emergency brain surgery, but while lying in intensive care for 14 days at Stanford, the trainers called to tell me they were looking at having a special made helmet to protect my shunt so I could keep playing. I was all in. Unfortunately they forgot to tell me shunts go out. Mine failed 4 months after we won Super Bowl XVI, and my brother brought me into the hospital in a coma, I had 2 more brain surgeries 10 hrs apart and was given last rites AND the hospital bills. I fought the 49ers creditors for years and was forced to sue for Workers Comp just to get my bills paid. During my Work Comp fight, I had 2 additional knee surgeries to repair what the 49ers’ orthopedic surgeon screwed up, the last being an experimental GoreTex ACL transplant. They basically drilled holes thru my femur and tibia, ran an artificial ligament through the holes and secured it to each bone with a large stainless steel molybolt.

    I won my case in 86,and the 49ers offered me $35,000 to go away. Luckily, despite my brain injury , I still had the mental capacity at that time to decline their offer (even though I was living in a cheap apartment, swinging a hammer during the day and bouncing at night trying to make ends meet). I asked for what any injured employee had earned, my past and future medical left open and I utilized Vocational Rehab to return to school to complete my Biology degree. The NY Jets had drafted me in the 6th round out of Colorado in 1980 prior to graduating. I signed a contract worth $35,000 for the first year (never paid a cent of that as they cut me at the end of pre season) and received a $15,000 signing bonus.

    During one 10-month period in 1987, while taking Organic Chem, Bio Chem and Physics, I had 4 more brain surgeries and several gran mal seizures during one 10-month period. It literally took me 5 more years of study to complete my bachelors degree in Biological Conservation, as I literally had (HAVE) no short term memory. I had to train myself to write everything down all day long, including where I parked my truck each day. I was 32 when I finally began my career as a wildlife biologist in Sacramento.

    Here I am now at 54. I’ve survived 9 emergency VP shunt brain surgeries, several more gran mal seizures, and was diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia 3 yrs ago. They put me on 4 different dementia meds at once, Lexapro, Arricept, Namenda and Resperdal on top of my anti seizure med Lamictil, 2400 mg of Motrin/day for my arthritic knee and Ambien for sleep. Due to inflammation of my neurons, I am unable to turn of my thoughts at night, and have gone up to 4 nights straight with no sleep. Thus the Ambien. Three years ago I started on Hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT), and mega doses of Dr Barry Sears Omega 3 fish oil and his natural anti oxidant supplements. Within the first year I quit all my drugs but my anti seizure med. As of today I have completed 206 HBOT treatments, and my micro cognitive memory test scores have improved 14.7% from pre treatment testing. And the best part of the story.

    I STILL DON’T QUALIFY FOR ANY NFL BENEFITS

    George Visger
    SF 49ers 80 & 81
    Survivor of 9 NFL Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits

    Wildlife Biologist/Traumatic Brain Injury Consultant
    The Visger Group

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