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2011 NCAA Football Reported-Concussion Study: Week 11

15 Nov

The Concussion Blog Original, 2011 NCAA Football Reported-Concussion Study, is a weekly compilation of reported head injuries in Division-I college football.  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.  This study recognizes that the NCAA has no mandated requirements in reporting injuries, but hopes to shed light on an issue that hasn’t received the kind of critical recognition to that of the National Football League’s.  We encourage reader involvement in contributing to this comprehensive online study.  We will be using Fink’s rule to classify a concussion/head injury.

As we all very well know, college athletics are a beloved element in our national sports culture- controversy aside.  With understanding this country-wide phenomena in the adoration of college football, specifically, we recognize this love, and sit back in our own respective comfort zones of viewing games with our friends and families cheering on our favorite programs and alma mater institutions.  College football is a significant part of our exposure to sports, but for the sake of specificity as it relates to the regards of our blog, college football has not necessarily been given much attention in consideration of the sports concussion crisis.  The purpose of this study is largely to bring forth such attention, and to generate critical questions of the standards in place as football as a whole, without secluding the focus to only that of the professional levels.  This is a hard task, mainly because of the abundance of programs at the Division-I level, but also due to the fact that the NCAA has no requirements placed on coaching staffs to report injuries sustained by players during play. Continue reading

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2011 NCAA Football Reported-Concussion Study: Week 10

10 Nov

The Concussion Blog Original, 2011 NCAA Football Reported-Concussion Study, is a weekly compilation of reported head injuries in Division-I college football.  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.  This study recognizes that the NCAA has no mandated requirements in reporting injuries, but hopes to shed light on an issue that hasn’t received the kind of critical recognition to that of the National Football League’s.  We encourage reader involvement in contributing to this comprehensive online study.  We will be using Fink’s rule to classify a concussion/head injury.

As we all very well know, college athletics are a beloved element in our national sports culture- controversy aside.  With understanding this country-wide phenomena in the adoration of college football, specifically, we recognize this love, and sit back in our own respective comfort zones of viewing games with our friends and families cheering on our favorite programs and alma mater institutions.  College football is a significant part of our exposure to sports, but for the sake of specificity as it relates to the regards of our blog, college football has not necessarily been given much attention in consideration of the sports concussion crisis.  The purpose of this study is largely to bring forth such attention, and to generate critical questions of the standards in place as football as a whole, without secluding the focus to only that of the professional levels.  This is a hard task, mainly because of the abundance of programs at the Division-I level, but also due to the fact that the NCAA has no requirements placed on coaching staffs to report injuries sustained by players during play. Continue reading

SYB Wristbands Available Online

9 Jun

The fundraising of Save Your Brain via their We <3 Brain wristband is now available for purchase online.  Simply go to the Facebook page and click on the “Get Your Gear” tab on the left hand side.  It is that easy!  From Brandon Drummond;

We figured out a way to sell the wristbands online. If you click the “Get The Gear” tab on our facebook fanpage you can purchase them right on fbook via paypal. If you “like” the fanpage and store you get $1 off each wristband.

Go there and get yours.  Also a reminder to those in the Illinois/Midwest I have some for purchase as well, let me know via email.  I have been sporting mine, get yours!!!

Tracy Yatsko: Video

22 May

The video is a couple of years old, but her message stays the same…  From our contributor Tracy Yatsko;

Mailbag: Response/Comment

10 May

I know we have talked about Michelle Trenum before, in fact she has been a very good sounding board for us here at TCB.  When we posted the Mailbag yesterday she had a thoughtful response and very intuitive words for everyone to see.  She even said it was OK to share with everyone.  So here is the email in full;

I really think what you are doing is so important…I only wish more people knew the information before they needed it instead of reading about it afterwards.

In today’s posting there was a mention of seeing yellow.   Austin and my other son would come home from football practice each day and tell me their “war stories” of particularly difficult or funny things that had happened at that day’s practices.  I enjoyed hearing about the practical jokes; about who was got put in their place by the coach that day; and who made everyone laugh.  They would also update me on particularly hard hits or injuries.  One day Austin told me about being hit so hard by our 300 lb lineman that he passed out for a moment then woke up and everything looked yellow.  He described it like he was looking through a jar of pee.  The mom in me freaked out when he said he’d passed out and he said “it is no big deal, I’m fine, I probably just got the breath knocked out of me because REDACTED is so big and he was on top of me, I don’t think I was really passed out….mom, stop freaking out, I’m fine”.  The possibility of a concussion was never on my radar.  I did mention the story after Continue reading

PBW and Tracy Yatsko In Action

27 Apr

This morning in the Morning Call, John L. Micek wrote about the concussion legislation in Pennsylvania and how the push is on to make it final.  While reading through it, at the very end our contributor and Project Brain Wave Advocate, Tracy Yatsko had some very clear and powerful words;

Tracy Yatsko, 23, a former basketball star at Tamaqua Area High School until a head injury ended her playing career in 2005, told a crowd in the Capitol rotunda that “this bill should not be about safety and politics. It should be about our safety and protection. We deserve action.”

Thanks Tracy!

Getting It Across

27 Apr

(Project Brain Wave) In June, the Newfoundland and Labrador Brain Injury Association, of which I am on the Board, is holding a symposium-type event to discuss brain injury, who it affects and how we think we can help people in the province. I have been asked to talk about my experiences, so now, I am writing and gathering ideas – from previous posts on this blog and from my mind – so that I can talk about my brain injury, my recovery and the struggles and opportunities that have come out of my experiences. I have named my talk: (Brain injury) Recovery experiences, challenges and new opportunities. Now it’s just a matter of putting this all together.

Before my brain injury I wasn’t a very confident speaker, but once I got going, my nervousness would disguise itself as confidence and I could ramble and bullshit my way through a lot. I have almost the opposite problem now; Now, my speech belies my confidence (this is unfortunately true in more situations than public speaking) and there’s a lot for me to talk about on this subject.

I am very excited about talking about this and I’ve got to make some decisions to keep the audience interested. Here’s the way I see it:
  1. Most people reading this blog are my friends and you may be interested to hear my thoughts because most of you knew me before I was injured and want to know how I feel now and what’s changed for me personally. I can’t thank you enough for your support during and since. Thanks so much everyone!
  2. You’re the audience for this blog, not for my talk in June. That talk is for people who — Continue reading

A Calling For Ease: Drew Fernandez’s Story

16 Apr

(Project Brain Wave)  High school football is one of the most exciting, defining, and proud markers of American culture, and is a level of play that to many, extends beyond being just a game.  The dreaded months of training camp, the long hours in the weight room and practice field, and the time spent studying playbooks to perfect a team’s system all contribute to the same goal—that being the unforgettable feeling of standing beneath the lights on a Friday night before your home crowd, set to take on the opponent you have prepared for.  This feeling that empowers our student athletes, that makes our parents proud and supportive, that makes our friends anxious to witness game day, is what the coaches and players live for.  High school football is defining, and is home to life lessons to be learned and experiences to cherish.  But for the Fernandez family, the high school football season of 2008 is one they will never forget.

Drew Fernandez, a young up and coming running back for his high school’s football program that was known for state championships in seven of the previous ten years, was productive both on the field, and off the field, executing plays on the field and performing well in his studies in the classroom.  His older brother had also been part of their high school’s championship legacy, and Drew was looking forward to contributing to such successes as well.  His first year in high school was in 2008, and it would be the first time he would have an opportunity to be a part of his hometown’s illustrious football program also.  According to his mother, Tracey, “football was everything to him.”

But such a mentality would soon be combated during one of his freshman football games, as Drew received the ball at running back during play, and then took hits from defenders in both the front and back of his head while he was being tackled.  Drew had sustained a concussion, and would be removed from play.  His mother told me of what events would then follow after her son took a blow to the head, resulting in his diagnosis.

“The trainer of the opposing team (the game was away) called me to tell me Drew suffered a concussion, and asked me if I wanted him to go back to school on the team bus or if he should call the paramedics,” said Tracey.  “I asked him to call the paramedics, and I met them at the ER.  The last thing Drew remembers from the day of his injury was riding on the bus to the game.  He has no recall of the trip to the ER via ambulance or anything thereafter until the next morning when he woke up at home.” Continue reading

Marquette Soccer Player Has To Give Up Soccer

4 Apr

Shannon Walsh has posted a two-part story about Marquette soccer player Scott Miller and his decision to forgo his senior season due to concussions.  The stories have been posted on TopDrawerSoccer.com (LINK to Part I) and are very informative, well worth your time.  Here are some excerpts;

In April 2010, Miller collided with a goalkeeper against Northern Illinois(m), leaving him with a broken nose and concussion. Though Miller experienced symptoms of the concussion, he decided not to tell the team medical staff or coaches, and was cleared to play ten days later against Milwaukee(m) in the Wisconsin Cup.

“That was the biggest mistake of my career at Marquette,” Miller said of his decision to play against UWM. “I told the team doctor and coaches that I felt normal and would be ready to play. Going into the game against UWM, I did not feel well but decided to play. It was one decision that if I had done differently probably would have saved my career.”

Underlining the need for awareness and education, Miller exemplifies exactly the stigma associated with concussions.  In retrospect Continue reading

Time to Heal: Tracy Yatsko’s Story

22 Mar

Last June, I had the pleasure of speaking at a press conference at Lincoln Financial Field in support of Pennsylvania State Representative Tim Briggs’ proposed concussion management legislation.  I was an eighteen-year old who had been researching concussions in sports for nearly ten months at that point—a task that I engaged in to further educate myself and others on the subject at hand; a project that would essentially close many doors in my past that had been left open for too long.  But as I situated myself beside the podium at this press conference, I had no idea what kind of story the young woman sitting to my left had to say.  Of course, throughout my research, I understood that others have been through worse—much worse—than what I had experienced, but never did I think I would meet someone I could relate to.  It was even more than just relating to, for this individual shared a heartbreaking story to the public.  She was at the press conference for the same reason as myself, and that was to promote the need for concussion legislation in our state, but she did more than that.  Her words were more than the cover to a bill.  Her words were the voice of the sports concussion crisis.

Today, Tracy Yatsko, a twenty-three-year old woman from Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, is still fighting the repercussions of an injury that ended her high school athletic career.  Six years removed from the moment of her last concussion, Yatsko represents the qualities of strength and motivation, for her battle has not been one that has been easy.  Sure, I have heard of stories in which athletes have sustained decisively fatal blows to the head.  But when I talk to this woman, and when I think about her story, the only words that I can describe how I have perceived her story is hell on earth.  Why did this situation in which Yatsko found herself within come to be?

2005 was a year, with regards to concussion awareness, that was still present in the sports’ ‘Era of Good Feelings.’  There was not much to worry about, and though there were stories creeping out of the media regarding concussions in football, there was not much of a worry in other athletic activities.  There really wasn’t much consideration as to what a concussion was.  It was merely an injury that was ignorantly summarized as a headache; a distraction; a joke.  And with such stigma comes tides of the familiar phrase that claims pain to be weakness leaving the body.  Only did we, or rather, do we, come to open our eyes to what a concussion is until the moment of a tragedy personally affects ourselves or those who we consider to be close to us. Continue reading

Brad Scioli On Concussions

15 Feb

For nearly a decade, the media has effectively contributed to the heightened awareness of concussions in football.  Many individuals, who either were or were not involved in the sport itself, became enlightened by the growing results of medical discoveries that connected mild traumatic brain injury to conditions such as post-concussion syndrome, depression, second impact syndrome, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  The widely dispersed spectrum of opinion on this subject often provided vague interpretations of concussions in sports, so I engaged in something that would be a bit more effective in opening the public’s eyes, as well as my own, to the personal predicaments between concussions and professional athletes.  To do so, I contacted Brad Scioli—former defensive end for the Indianapolis Colts.

Scioli played for the Colts from 1999 to 2004.  He attended the same high school that I graduated from a year ago, and is forever enshrined in the athletic legacy of Upper Merion Area High School’s halls.  He is known to be one of Upper Merion’s greatest, and most proud, athletes of success who took his talents to the professional level.  Today, he is now a health and physical education teacher at Upper Merion, and is an assistant coach for the school’s football program.  During my high school career, I had the pleasure of working with Scioli in a productive player-coach relationship, where I learned a tremendous amount of skills for the defensive end position through his expertise.

By speaking to Scioli, I wanted to learn about what the voice of a former NFL player had to say about the league’s most recent dealings with all aspects of mild traumatic brain injury.  I wanted to see how we could further illustrate an issue that has been brought to the foreground of neuroscience and professional sports.  After seeing my junior year mark the end of my high school football career, it was interesting to see what Scioli, a former defensive mentor who shares similar homegrown roots, had to say about the issue. Continue reading

One Day At A Time: Greg DiTullio’s Story

7 Feb

“Greg, open yours eyes.”
“Greg, squeeze my hand.”
“Greg, PLEASE don’t leave us.”

The words of a worried standing beside her son unsure of the future of her fourteen-year old child are powerfully unsettling to say the least.  For Sue DiTullio, August 8, 2007 will be a day she will never forget—a day where she could have lost her son, Greg.

Greg sustained a concussion during his football practice following a helmet-to-helmet hit during a basic tackling drill.  After the hit, he approached his coach and told him that he had a bad headache, which came to result in Greg dropping to a knee, vomiting, and then passing out on the field.  Within minutes, an EMT unit was on-site and found what would be described to be a “very weak pulse.”  To the shock of all bystanders, the hit was more than what one would consider to be a typical collision in a youth football environment—it was a decisive blow that caused a subdural hematoma, which is a collection of blood that forms upon the surface of the brain.

In the hospital, Greg’s parents arrived to a room filled with hospital attendants surrounding their child pinching him, slapping him on the chest, and yelling at him to try and get the slightest response—a method that was used for the next ninety-six hours while the medical staff monitored him.  It was found that Greg sustained a severe midline shift in his brain that was nearly a 1.2-centimeter misalignment, which caused massive bleeding on the right side of his cortex.  Doctors from the neurosurgical team were clear to insist that his craniotomy procedure was to be performed immediately.

“If we don’t operate now, he will die.  Even if we do operate, we are not sure what the outcome will be.”

Greg would be later declared the stability to survive this heart-wrenching incident, ultimately marking the beginning of a life that would be significantly altered with regards to his physical and cognitive capacity.  That moment, to the understanding of the DiTullio family, was the day in which they nearly could have lost their son.  The DiTullio family rather sees it as the moment in which God let him live, for they never gave up on the hopes of Greg’s recovery.

To the DiTullio family, life has come to be a continuous altercation against struggles in health for Greg.  They know that Greg’s life will never be the same, but their true optimism and love for their son gives them motivation to take on each challenge and make every day better.  From the moment in which Greg emerged from the hospital as a survivor of sport-related head trauma, his family has put forth an effort in setting goals to make his remarkable recovery mean something.  There are days in which they feel that everything has fallen out of their control, but such days are complimented by ones in which they feel that their efforts and prayers are making a difference in their son’s life.

Ever since the incident of Greg’s injury, the DiTullio family has been provided a handful of theories that try to explain what caused his concussions to become so severe.  This included the questioning of whether or not the helmet was too old, or if the padding was too old and too stiff to absorb the force of the hit, or if he had been significantly dehydrated, causing fluids in the brain to be low, increasing the risk for contrecoup injury.  Some say that this may have just been ‘bad luck.’  As much as the questions arose, the DiTullio family received little to no answers.  All that they understood was that after this seemingly mild hit, their son found himself soon fighting for his life.

The impact of Greg’s story has affected his community in a unique way.  One year after his injury, his high school replaced their helmets at every level, and soon found decreased concussion rates in their football programs.  In addition, this situation was powerful enough to launch what would come to be known as Families Against Brain Injury, a non-profit organization located in Ohio, headed by Sue, that aims to share Greg’s story while campaigning for greater awareness of sport-related head injuries.  They also support the Outpatient Neurorehabilitation team of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital—a dedicated group of therapists and specialists who work with children who are suffering from traumatic brain injury.

Through progress has been a common theme in the steps of recovery for Greg, he seems to have fallen into another rough spot.  Changes in medication, along with coping with the social effects that his injury has left him with, have debilitated his patience, as he finds himself struggling to move forward with his individuality.  He is battling headaches, visual difficulties, pituitary dysfunction, endurance issues, and has developed a sleep disorder (post-traumatic hypersomnia/narcolepsy).  From a cognitive perspective, Greg has shown significant improvement, though he has shown spells of issues with memory and attention.

When Greg’s coaches were questioned why they did not evaluate him for a head injury when he first complained of a headache he described to be like no other that he had before, one replied saying: “it was a mild hit.”  The others were unaware that there was even a helmet-to-helmet hit because Greg was not working in their group at practice.  The first to really pick up on an issue was one of Greg’s teammates, who noticed him walking around at one point, and when he caught up with him, Greg seemed confused.

The story of Greg DiTullio is one that should be heard by all involved in contact sports, specifically in all youth football programs.  It is unreal how precious our very lives are, for at any moment they could be catastrophically misdirected toward a path of uncertainty.  Like many other tragic stories that have been heard throughout the realm of athletics, Greg’s must be placed upon a platform, alongside many others, to represent that we all must think twice about our decision-making and recognize that the implications of sport-related head trauma are no joke.

JOHN GONOUDE

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