Archive | Outreach RSS feed for this section

Terry Ott: Canadian Concussion Law Suit Begins Its Slow Crawl To Resolution

23 Sep
In July this blog broke the news that Canada was facing its first law suit based on concussions in their professional football league.  Since that time there has been plenty of information, misinformation and general commentary about this issue in Canada.  The fact remains that this is a long way from getting settled, if you remember correctly the concussion issue in America took over a year to get “settled” and even now it is not completely final/finished.  Although there has been coverage in Canada (which has limited this blogs need to post/present about it) Terry Ott continues to beat the trail and get information to  present in his unique way.  With that backdrop I give you Mr. Ott’s latest filing…
==========
DEE-FENCE!
“Absence Of CTE” Doctor Files Defense in CFL Arland Bruce Concussion Lawsuit, But Claims to be “Outside The Knowledge Of” On Many Relevant Concussion Issues
HAMILTON
September 23, 2014

Just as it was a long way to Tipperary, it is surely a long way to go before the Arland Bruce III concussion lawsuit against the CFL, its member clubs, CFL Alumni director Leo Ezerins and Dr. Charles Tator and Krembil Neurosciences Center (KNC) ever comes close to a courtroom, or even any kind of resolution.

However, the legal equivalent of a punt has begun, and court documents obtained for this story provide for a very interesting if limited insight as to what can be expected in this first of its kind case in Canada.

On Sept. 10, the Vancouver BC firm of Harper Grey LLP, and attorney Nigel Trevethan filed a defense on behalf of Dr. Charles Tator,  denying or described as “outside the knowledge of the defendant” all but three parts of Bruce’s claim, only excepting that:  1. Tator is affiliated with Krimbil, 2. the KNC is based in Toronto,Ont. and 3. that Dr. Tator is the director of the Canadian Sports Concussion Project; these are the only facts that “are admitted” in Bruce’s 47 page statement of claim.

And while much of the above is pro-forma legal to-and-fro tiddlywinks, some of the “denied” and “outside the knowledge of the defendant” defenses as described in the Tator response to the civil claim are, ah, questionable to this reporter. (See attachments provided below.)

For instance, according to the filed document of defense Dr. Tator denies that he knew or should have known that:  Continue reading
About these ads

Nick Mercer: Heading the blame away from goal

23 Jul

“Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” – Gary Lineker

Sunday’s game was scoreless into the 112th minute, but still an exciting one with an attacking, offensive mindset for both teams. That said, I am not writing this post to give an unqualified analysis of the final. I am not even analyzing FIFA’s approach to concussions. Everyone who watched saw Christoph Kramer collapse after colliding with Ezequiel Garay’s shoulder. This was a particularly nasty collision, but by no means the only, or even most, blatant example of brain injury in this World Cup. Not a week before, Argentina midfielder, Javier Mascherano also received a decidedly hard blow to the head after colliding with Dutch midfielder, Georginio Wijnaldum. Then there’s Uruguay’s Alvaro Pereira who was actually knocked out before continuing to play!

Another incident caught my attention in Sunday’s final when Germany’s Thomas Müller banged heads with an Argentine defender as they both attempted to head the ball. The defender (I don’t know who it was) was down for a while after they collided and Müller was reaching for his head. Nevertheless, as is now customary, both continued to play.

Blame seems ridiculous, since it can rationally be shifted around in a never-ending circle. It’s pointless for the same reasons. Yes, teams and doctors could do more. Yes, FIFA could write new rules. Yes, players should be taught the dangers of continuing to play. They should be taught this from a young age. The blame goes to ‘them’ and ‘they’, but what about ‘us’?

Personally, I enjoy watching football (or soccer, as we North Americans say), but I watch very little, especially compared to harder hitting American football – where men in full body armour slam into each other and brain injury seemingly occurs every play. Hockey is the same; full body armour, collisions, brain injury. People seem to forget what protection all of the padding provides. When two athletes collide without padding it hurts a lot more (that’s why padding is used) and it hurts both individuals. It also means that in rugby or Aussie Rules Football, where such padding isn’t used, there is a tendency more toward technique, not trying to lay the opponent out every play, because a hard collision is a hard collision for both athletes. But I digress.

Injury in sports and life will happen. Brain injury in sports and life will happen. It’s not about how brain injury is dealt with in sports, it’s about how it’s dealt with in life. Pressure is placed on governing bodies like FIFA, the NFL, the NHL to do something. As the top bodies of their respective sports, they set standards to strive for. Consequences don’t start and end there. The onus is on the rest of us to be aware and learn.

Terry Ott: Personal Observations in the Wake of Suit

22 Jul

Terry Ott files a follow-up regarding the law suit in Canada and Arland Bruce.  This is his commentary on the coverage of the issue; all information, illustrations, pictures and links are his.

==========

DOES CANADA’S TSN, THE HOST CFL BROADCASTER, APPEAR TO BE “CIRCLING THE WAGONS” OVER ARLAND BRUCE III CONCUSSION LAWSUIT AND SUBSEQUENT NATIONAL HOOPLA AND HOOTIN’ AND HOLLERING, OR IS IT JUST A CASE OF, AND NOW, FOR SOMETHING (REALLY) COMPLETELY DIFFERENT?

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle

The irony of the American-based Concussion Blog breaking one of the biggest stories about the Canadian Football League in recent memory when it exclusively revealed the first concussion lawsuit in CFL history, is certainly very rich.

Prior to D-Day, July 16, 2014, much of the Canadian sports media didn’t know too much about concussions, and, well, seemingly, they didn’t wanna know too much. Or, as they also mused in the movie Casino, “ah,why take a chance?”

And of course there is that lovely old Buddhist proverb of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” Maybe that’s what most of the big time scribblers and jolly jock-sniffers were up to up here prior to the Bruce legal revelation but since most would not even talk to me, how would I really know?

However, after Andrew Bucholtz of the Yahoo! Canada 55 Yard Line CFL Blog gave the story of the Bruce lawsuit nation-wide coverage mere hours after it first appeared here, the story became a talking point throughout Canada for days as well as shaking the previously comfortably cocooned CFL , who may have been alerted to the Concussion Blog post by a trusty and observant friendly just shortly after it went live from Chicago at 12:32 EDT, on July 16.  Continue reading

SNEER and LOAFING in the CFL: A Sad Trip to Apathy, Amnesia and Animus

19 Jun

Eric “The Flea” Allen

This post is by guest journalist, Terry Ott.  You may remember some of his work posted here previously in the seven-part series looking into concussions and possible long-term issues (you can click on links within the post to read all parts).  With the Canadian Football League avoiding a work stoppage by ratifying a new collective bargaining agreement and play about to begin Ott brings us a follow-up story.

==========

The Canadian Football League season is set to kick-off on June 26 culminating with the 102st Grey Cup in Vancouver in November. With a new team-the rather unusually named Ottawa RedBlacks-two new stadiums, a recently ratified 5 year collective bargaining agreement between the players and the board of governors that still leaves the owners with a major financial upper hand, and the ever-increasing fan interest in Canada and even south of the border, it would appear the CFL has landed in a cozy albeit modest pro sports sweet spot.

However, there is that not so little matter concerning the past, and especially the future…


Weird Scenes Inside The 110 Yard Gridiron

After my 7 part series on concussions in the CFL appeared at the end of last year, both Concussion Blog founder
Dustin Fink and I both had the same question:Why has the CFL (apparently) not been sued for concussion-related damages? And just where are all the players who played and suffered serious concussions that affected their quality of life after football? How could the CFL possibly be that much different from the NFL?

The CFL has been knocking and sometimes scrambling heads for well over 100 years and yet not a single class action lawsuit for damages due to concussion has yet been filed. It is possible that at some point in the past, singular concussion related lawsuits have been undertaken and settled out of court and bound by confidentiality agreement so they were never reported on but other than that possibility, it would almost appear that the CFL somehow exists in some bizarre twilight zone of brain injury legal non-culpability and/or amnesty. 

Continue reading

Just keep at it

8 Feb

Eleven years ago my balance and mobility were better than good. My health was better than good. Ten years and seven months ago, I was a long way away from feeling anything remotely close to good about my balance and my mobility, or about my health at all. That was a drastic turn, and it sucked, but it happened. I can’t pretend it didn’t. Well, I could pretend, but what good would that do?

Since most people’s introduction and familiarity with rehabilitation is through movies and TV, it’s important to reiterate that it’s a gradual process. It doesn’t just happen one day that everything clicks and all of a sudden life’s back to normal. Hard work is also not the secret. It’s essential for improvement, especially continuous improvement, but it doesn’t guarantee it. It happened for me. I’ve worked hard and I’ve improved, but by no means am I back to normal. It certainly doesn’t mean that someone, whose condition doesn’t improve, didn’t work hard. I know of countless examples. Movies and TV have to fit a story into an allotted time. If a book is too long nobody will read it. So, most of what people know about rehabilitation is a very Continue reading

Terry Ott: 3rd Down, CTE to go – FINAL Part

25 Jan

This continuing “Guest Series” is being authored by Terry Ott and will delve into the Canadian Football League and the issues revolving around it and brain injury.  His process began nearly a year ago, but Mr. Ott picked up some steam with the release of“League of Denial”.  He has since found himself running into dead-ends and basically being ostracized for taking a journalistic angle on this as it pertains to the CFL.  We are thankful that we can provide a space for his writings and only hope that someone who is reading this can further his cause. You can read PART 1 HERE and PART 2 HERE and PART 3 HERE and PART 4 HERE and PART 5 HERE and PART 6 HERE.

It has been my pleasure to post the stylings of Mr. Ott over the past few weeks.  The guy has worked hard on this basically “paying it forward” so perhaps one person will run with the information.  I admire his spirit and “sticktoitivness”, thank you, Terry!

===========

AND IN THE END…THE CULTURE MUST CHANGE AND/OR THE FALL OF THE FOOTBALL EMPIRE

“In this sort of feminized atmosphere we exist today guys who are masculine and muscular…kind of old-fashioned guys run some risks.” -Brit Hume, Jan. 13, 2014

You know, I don’t really care much for the brand of “news” that FOX espouses and yet this is the second, and last time I will quote from it.

Because what Brit Hume recently said deserves to be discussed. Even though his comments may be a mile wide and only an inch deep and were not referring to the “manly” sport of football, they may in fact strike to the heart of the civil war now going on in pigskin circles regarding concussions and brain injury.

On one side of the debate are what the League of Denial authors rightly called the deniers, and the other side would seem to be the whistle-blowers. The deniers see the whistle-blowers as silly sissy Marry la-la’s trying to wreck football and the whistle-blowers see the deniers as Neanderthal numbskulls, old-fashioned guys well past their sell date.

Perhaps these are the risks that can befall the old guard, the deniers. That of being accused of being out of touch, thick, ignorant of the facts, or worse.

But does that make the whistle-blowers, those alleged soft, girly man, nanny-state purveyors “feminized”?

Well, if it means caring about football and employing common sense in a brutal arena, then sign me up for NOW, now, man.

Because pro football as we now know it is in danger-yes, real danger.

Danger of being law-suited and legislated out of acceptable existence.

And, as I have previously pointed out, shutting up about it is just plain dumb and ensures football will be KIA.

The lawyers smell money – that’s real money – and the government will most assuredly act, and maybe even in a Draconian fashion, if pro football does not get its brain injury prevention and after care act together very soon.

The NFL and their broadcast partners are joined at the hip. For the most part, this ain’t good because neither hand wants Continue reading

Terry Ott: 3rd Down, CTE to go – Part 6 – UPDATED

22 Jan

CBC 5th EstateThis continuing “Guest Series” is being authored by Terry Ott and will delve into the Canadian Football League and the issues revolving around it and brain injury.  His process began nearly a year ago, but Mr. Ott picked up some steam with the release of“League of Denial”.  He has since found himself running into dead-ends and basically being ostracized for taking a journalistic angle on this as it pertains to the CFL.  We are thankful that we can provide a space for his writings and only hope that someone who is reading this can further his cause. You can read PART 1 HERE and PART 2 HERE and PART 3 HERE and PART 4 HERE and PART 5 HERE.

==========

UPDATE 21:19 1/22/14 – rectified link to CBC The Fifth Estate “Head Games” (see below)

==========

HELLO, IS THERE ANYBODY IN/OUT THEREJUST NOD IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, IS THERE ANYONE AT HOME?

“Now I remember why I gave up speaking to journalists. They are a species of foul vermin. I wouldn’t hire people like that to guard my sewer. Journalists are morons. They’re idiots. They’re ignorant and stupid.” – The late, great, irascible Lou Reed.

Well, up here in the Great White North, the question of (seriously) addressing the serious problem of concussions in the Canadian Football League would appear to be a deaf, dumb and blind one, boy.

Or, maybe as popular as baked beans on a bus trip.

For whichever way you want to turn this thing loose, up here, it’s locked up, tight.

As I’ve written before in this series, although there has been some pretty good reporting, especially by the CBC where on their website they still carry many reports and videos about concussions, about the only report on concussions and the CFL’s role that I can find is a 2008 CBC Fifth Estate report entitled, “Head Games.”

Below is the web promo, description and link but that link does not work. (The Concussion Blog originally linked to this report several years ago when the link did work.)

CBC The Fifth Estate – “Head Games” broadcast in 2008:

“They have been called the greatest football team in the history of the CFL — the Edmonton Eskimos of the 1970s and ’80s that won five consecutive Grey Cups. But, for some of the star players on that team, the years of triumph ended ingloriously in early deaths, from heart attack, suicide and misadventure. The tragedy of those early deaths was often compounded by alcohol or drug addictions, probably caused by another, less visible, killer. Recent research by neuroscientists now shows the link between on-the-field concussions and brain damage; a permanent injury that can lead to depression, suicide and severe aberrant behaviour. The damage is so profound, the researchers say, that post-mortem examinations of the brain tissue of five former professional football players can be compared only to the tissue found in the brain tissue of advanced Alzheimer’s cases.” CBC The Fifth Estate – Head Games

This 2008 report was actually ahead of its time, and again, the only one that I know of that cornered the CFL and asked some tough, prescient questions. The former commissioner had that old deer/headlamps face a few times and newspapers at the time took a toot but then everyone went back to a snore. Comfortably numb.

But now, there is a proviso on the Fifth Estate website advising thatprior programs from 2003 were inadvertently re-posted in 2013 and therefore, contact customer service, yada, yada, yada, and blah-blah.

Yet interestingly – I said interestingly - the only Fifth Estate link that I could not get to work was…TA DAH: Head Games.

I am alleging nothing-although I may later sort of spatially speculate-but there are some conspiracy theorists out there who are very suspicious.

One of them is Phil Colwell, the former CFL running back who Continue reading

Terry Ott: 3rd Down, CTE to go – Part 5

15 Jan

MIPSThis continuing “Guest Series” is being authored by Terry Ott and will delve into the Canadian Football League and the issues revolving around it and brain injury.  His process began nearly a year ago, but Mr. Ott picked up some steam with the release of“League of Denial”.  He has since found himself running into dead-ends and basically being ostracized for taking a journalistic angle on this as it pertains to the CFL.  We are thankful that we can provide a space for his writings and only hope that someone who is reading this can further his cause. You can read PART 1 HERE and PART 2 HERE and PART 3 HERE and PART 4 HERE.

IS “MIPS” A FOUR LETTER WORD AND (Every)THING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SNAKE-OIL*

*But were unaware to ask

“The cold truth is that football players are in jeopardy.”  — Bill O’Reilly, he of the No Spin (End) Zone, Jan. 8. 2014


The Concussion Blog supremo Dustin Fink once mused to me that football, in its infancy a hundred years ago or there about, was meant to be played by (slower) men about five foot nine and weighing an average 150 pounds or so and at a time when a 200LB plus player was basically a monster, a freak.

You can appreciate the Dustin statement inference by referencing high school physics in that net (G) force equals mass times acceleration and also appreciate that now, with players routinely 50-150 pounds heavier then when the first Roosevelt was in the White House, and many now with world-class speed, the G forces generated on impact by today’s pro and college football players are exponentially greater than in Knute Rockne’s days and the resulting collisions on the field can be life threatening in the short, and long-term.

Life in big-time football today is both Darwinian-only the strong survive, and if lucky thrive, and inherently  Hobbesian-nasty, brutish and short.

But since literally millions of boys and young men seek football playing dreams, what to do?

Well, since just about all aspects of football equipment has undergone a radical revolution-footwear, pads, uniforms, gloves and eye protection-how about an update on the most important piece of football gear-the helmet.

A little history lesson: President and Rough Rider Teddy R was a big football fan, and when 9 players died in 1913 as a result mostly of skull fracture injuries, he, along with Knute Rockne advocated for a shift from three yards Continue reading

Terry Ott: 3rd Down, Absence of CTE to go – Part 4

6 Jan

This continuing “Guest Series” is being authored by Terry Ott and will delve into the Canadian Football League and the issues revolving around it and brain injury.  His process began nearly a year ago, but Mr. Ott picked up some steam with the release of“League of Denial”.  He has since found himself running into dead-ends and basically being ostracized for taking a journalistic angle on this as it pertains to the CFL.  We are thankful that we can provide a space for his writings and only hope that someone who is reading this can further his cause. You can read PART 1 HERE and PART 2 HERE and PART 3 HERE.

THE CURIOUSLY TITLED AND ENIGMATIC BRAIN STUDY, AND THE SEEMINGLY RHETORICAL QUESTION OF ’14

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” –Albert Einstein, who knew a thing or two about brains.

Dr. Tator: Not absent

Dr. Ann McKee, professor of neurology and pathology and co-director of the Center For The Study Of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University once mused in a television interview that she wondered if most if not all professional football players had some degree of CTE.

After all, the brains of former football players examined by the Center so far has found the existence of CTE was near one hundred percent.

Whether one agrees with the now famous Dr. McKee in totality regarding the prevalence of CTE in former players, her and her team are world-class doctors and researchers who have brought the serious issue of football related brain trauma into the collective consciousness of tens of millions of observers.

Most believe that the BU work on CTE was the main catalyst for the National Football League to eventually in 2009 admit that there was a cause and effect between football play and CTE and was also the key preponderance of the evidence that made for a 765 million dollar settlement between the league and former players who claimed neurological damage from playing football.

Here in the Great White North, Dr. Charles Tator, of the University of Toronto, has been referred to as the grandfather of brain research and sort of the Canuck version of BU-like CTE research.

Dr. Tator, a neurosurgeon, originally specialized in spinal cord injuries, but was leader of a study of the brains of 6 former Canadian Football League players that was published in May, 2013.

Despite the fact that Dr. Tator’s study found a fifty percent incidence of CTE among the subjects, the study was entitled “Absence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in retired football players with multiple concussions and neurological symptomatically”

The detailed study places much weight on the small number of brains Continue reading

Terry Ott: 3rd Down, Absence of CTE to go – Part 3

31 Dec

This continuing “Guest Series” is being authored by Terry Ott and will delve into the Canadian Football League and the issues revolving around it and brain injury.  His process began nearly a year ago, but Mr. Ott picked up some steam with the release of“League of Denial”.  He has since found himself running into dead-ends and basically being ostracized for taking a journalistic angle on this as it pertains to the CFL.  We are thankful that we can provide a space for his writings and only hope that someone who is reading this can further his cause. You can read PART 1 HERE and PART 2 HERE.

LEAGUE OF NON-DENIAL, DENIAL HEARS, SEES NO EVIL or KNOCKED OUT, LOADED

QUESTION: Could the Canadian Football League receive and survive a class action law suit brought on behalf of former players suffering from football concussions and related brain injury?

ANSWER: Later.

This year, when the Canadian Football League’s director of communications, Jamie Dykstra, declined to answer what he termed my “loaded” questions about concussions and how the CFL was going to address them, I told Jamie it was unfortunate and that I would have to note the league’s silence in my story. “I know,” he said.

So, I am, noting it, that is. Because, to reference some other talking heads, this ain’t no disco; this ain’t no foolin’ around.

To reiterate, my questions, posted on the Concussion Blog earlier and condensed here concerned among other things, whether baseline testing info from the teams was shared with the league, whether the CFL was looking at any new helmet technology such as MIPS and would the CFL, like the NFL in 2009 confirm that in some cases, a causal relationship between football concussions and brain injury was a possibility.

Even after I appealed to Dykstra that hitting the mute button on such an important issue seemed, well, just wrong, and that my questions were not exactly League of Denial serious as a statement of claim or heart attack, he replied that “we (the CFL) are well aware of what is going on.”

I certainly hope so, yet being “aware,” and actually having a prescient policy would appear to be two different things.

Before Dykstra stopped talking, he had earlier forwarded me some pretty white-bread CFL concussions protocols and when I picked at its crust, was told the league’s policy was “organic.”

Far out. Nice, sexy, trendy new-age word Jamie, but what does it actually mean in the real, sometimes savage head knockin’ world of Canuck pro football?

Since the CFL won’t tell me, let me introduce to you a number of quite plausible if not certain “organic” scenarios for what in some ways seems a Darwinian policy.

Unlike the NFL, the CFL right now Continue reading

Terry Ott: 3rd Down, Absence of CTE to go – Part 2

27 Dec

This “Guest Series” is being authored by Terry Ott and will delve into the Canadian Football League and the issues revolving around it and brain injury.  His process began nearly a year ago, but Mr. Ott picked up some steam with the release of“League of Denial”.  He has since found himself running into dead-ends and basically being ostracized for taking a journalistic angle on this as it pertains to the CFL.  We are thankful that we can provide a space for his writings and only hope that someone who is reading this can further his cause. You can read PART 1 HERE.

==========

THE LINEBACKER’S HEAD GAMES

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states that:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”[6]

———————————————————————————————-

Former star CFL player Leo Ezerins was a ferocious linebacker through the 80s and won a Grey Cup while playing for the Hamilton Tiger Cats in 1986.

In that game, in which Hamilton was in some sports books a 22 point dog to the vaunted Edmonton Eskimos, Ezerins and company absolutely stomped and annihilated  the Eskimos, a seek and  destroy mission that in the first half forced half a dozen sacks, several forced fumbles and recoveries and a total offense by Edmonton of basically, nadda.

Here, are some highlights:

Ezerins was perhaps the 80s CFL’s answer to former Pittsburgh Steeler wild-man and Hall of Famer Jack Lambert, taking no prisoners and showing no quarter on the gridiron.

And right now, Leo is not too happy with me. I kinda feel bad about that, and here’s how it happened.

You see, Ezerins is currently the executive director of the CFL Alumni Association which boasts around 1000 participants.

The Alumni Association attempts to bring former players together in friendship, events and sometimes even modest philanthropy. Some members have been directly involved in examinations of former player
health and safety issues as well, including concussion research. Obviously, the CFL Alumni does some good work.

And so last October, I sought Ezerins out via e-mail, inquiring as to Continue reading

Guest Series by, Terry Ott – Part 1: 3rd Down, “Absence of CTE” to go.

23 Dec

This “Guest Series” is being authored by Terry Ott and will delve into the Canadian Football League and the issues revolving around it and brain injury.  His process began nearly a year ago, but Mr. Ott picked up some steam with the release of “League of Denial”.  He has since found himself running into dead-ends and basically being ostracized for taking a journalistic angle on this as it pertains to the CFL.  We are thankful that we can provide a space for his writings and only hope that someone who is reading this can further his cause.

==========

THIRD DOWN, “ABSENCE OF CTE” TO GO

The Canadian Football League claims to be the oldest professional football circuit in existence, dating back to the late 1800s.

Last year, the 100th Grey Cup league championship was played in Toronto before 50,000 fans and millions more on TV.

The league, which used to advertise that their “balls were bigger,” has recently signed a new, lucrative-for Canada-television deal, and a 18 game regular season is currently seen in the United States on three cable sports networks

In 2014, the CFL returns to one of their previous core markets in the nation’s capital, and there is talk and hope of further expansion to eventually reach at least 10 teams, bad, nation-wide, is a real possibility.

Three new stadiums have recently been built and another is on the way.

The level of play has never been better and the brand and ownership-albeit with one individual owning two teams-unlike some prior years, is strong.

The future for the CFL would seem to be bright, but…

KNOCKED OUT

Former CFL player Phil Colwell doesn’t watch the Canadian Football League.

He doesn’t live in Canada anymore, and has pretty much lost touch with all of the players he knew and played with between 1980 and 1983.

When he left the game early due to a series of injuries and questionable coaching decisions, he intended to leave it completely behind. But while he may have left the game, the game as the old saying goes, has never left him.

“Philthy” Colwell, the strapping, bearded, homegrown and swift running back then in his mid 20s, was knocked out in a game in 1981 while playing for the Toronto Argonauts, suffering a devastating concussion that to this day he says he has very little recollection of and that was most likely the participator of his premature departure from football.

Colwell had played high school football, starred for three years for his Canadian college team, and played a form of semi-pro “junior” football and even drew some interest from the New England Patriots after playing in the short lived Can Am Bowl series, before making it to the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger Cats in 1980 and appearing in the Grey Cup as a rookie.

He later shared a field with former Houston Oilers star Billy “White Shoes” Johnston and former LA Ram quarterback Vince Feragamo when they briefly came north with the Montreal Alouettes. Colwell’s quarterback when he was in Toronto was former University of Tennessee super star Conredge Holloway.

Notwithstanding the galaxy of football talent he kept company with, Colwell says that at every level of football he participated in, he knows took many concussive hits in what then was considered to be “just part of the game.”

You got “dinged,” you got “your bell rung,” and then you went right back to same game including a particularly nasty incident while playing junior football in Sarnia, Ontario, when he Continue reading

Terry Ott: CFL Follies

19 Dec

If you recall a few weeks ago I posted a request for some help for a journalist, Terry Ott of Canada.  It was simple, if anyone who reads this is a former Canadian Football (CFL) player or knows a former CFL’er, could they contact Mr. Ott for a story he is doing on concussions in that subset of professional football.  The good news was that people responded, albeit a small number, it was more than he was able to find doing his journalistic thing.  It made me happy that this blog could help out someone looking for information, because that is why it occupies a space.  But…………..

In the post below, that Mr. Ott wrote, you will see that by using this blog it may have stonewalled any help from the CFL, its Players’ Association or the Alumni Association.  Mr. Ott titled this post “CFL Follies” and I cannot think of a better title for what you are about to read.

Without further ado, Mr. Ott;

==========

I’d imagine that most reading this Blog will have heard of League of Denial.

But, I doubt you have heard of League of Non Denial, Denial.

Because after three months of dodge-ball dealing with the CFL about the concussion issue past, present and future, I was, after some initial boiler-plate information given in October, told today that my follow-up questions were “loaded” and would not be addressed by the CFL. (The questions are at the bottom of this post, and you can make up your own mind if they were “loaded,” or not.)

In addition, the CFLPA will no longer respond to my Continue reading

Outreach: Ashlee Quintero

19 Feb

This is the continuation of a new program here at TCB.  Called “Outreach”; the purpose is to publicize the good (we hope the vast majority) and sometimes the not so good of concussion management and experiences across this vast planet.  One thing I realized real quick in Zürich is that the stories of the bad are relatively the same, usually highlighted in the media.  Meanwhile the stories of good are different and helpful and not heard at all.  I am asking our readers to send in stories of your cases (please be mindful identifying specifics) so we can share.  There are vast stories in the comment section but I would like to bring forward as many as possible. 

Ashlee Quintero was a soccer player at the University of Miami in 2009 when she sustained a concussion.  Through this process she decided to become more involved in awareness and education of this injury.  Below is her contribution to The Concussion Blog.

Dog, Cat, and Fish.

The more I am exposed to the public’s reaction to sports concussion (and that’s a lot, I am a youth soccer coach and the Concussion Program Coordinator at UHealth Sports Medicine), the more I realize how far we still have to go with concussion education. Despite the warnings, educational seminars, and the accessibility of concussion information on this little thing called the internet, coaches, youth coaches especially, are more often than not severely misinformed on how to screen who’s taken a hit. My most recent educational presentation really illustrated this need.

I am a youth soccer coach and volunteered to present concussion information to my fellow soccer coaches at our league’s pre-season coaches meeting. While I was speaking on Florida’s new concussion legislation and discussing the ever-difficult sideline evaluation and decision to sit a kid out, I got the inevitable questions, “Well, how do you know if it is a concussion? What’s the tell-tale sign I am looking for?” Before I could vocalize my response to those questions, Continue reading

George Visger – A Story to Tell

15 Jan

You have seen him post in the comments and there have been many stories written on him and his plight, but it is nice to get those involved to write about themselves as much as possible.  George Visger a former NFL player has taken the time to send along a couple of notes, it began with this email;

I played for the 81 Super Bowl champion SF 49ers.  During the season I developed hydrocephalus (water on the brain) from concussions, and underwent emergency VP Shunt brain surgery.  Four months after our Super Bowl XVI victory, my shunt failed, I had 2 more brain surgeries 10 hrs apart and was given last rites.  Also given the hospital bills, and forced to sue for Work Comp.  Completed my  Biology degree during brain surgeries 4 thru 7, now on # 9.   The long-term effects of concussive and sub concussive hits can be seen in what it’s done to my family in the following KVIE Channel 6 Sacramento link.

KVIE Channel 6  Sidelined:  Concussions In Sports   121912- http://vids.kvie.org/video/2318744182
After that was sent my way I asked for something he has written and wants to be known, and below is what I received.  Thank you for your time George;
My football and TBI career began in 1970 at age 11, playing for the West Stockton Bear Cubs Pee Wee Pop Warner team in Stockton, CA.  Twenty nine kids on the team, and 3 of us went on to play for the undefeated, nationally ranked, 1975 A.A. Stagg high squad and sign NFL contracts in 1980 (me, Jack Cosgrove, Pat Bowe).  We also had a kid on the squad by the name of Von Hayes, who went onto a multi-year MLB All Star career with the Cincinnati Reds.During my 3rd year of Pop Warner, I knocked myself unconscious in a worthless Bull – In – The – Ring drill and was hospitalized.  This was the only “diagnosed” concussion I sustained, despite playing several games through college and pros where I have no memory of playing. Continue reading

Outreach: Jay Fraga

5 Dec

tweet-retweetWe are beginning a new program here at TCB.  This one is called “Outreach”; the purpose is to publicize the good (we hope the vast majority) and sometimes the not so good of concussion management and experiences across this vast planet.  One thing I realized real quick in Zürich is that the stories of the bad are relatively the same, usually highlighted in the media.  Meanwhile the stories of good are different and helpful and not heard at all.  I am asking our readers to send in stories of your cases (please be mindful identifying specifics) so we can share.  There are vast stories in the comment section but I would like to bring forward as many as possible.

The stipulations are simple: 500-2000 words with specific situations that we all can learn from and benefit from, email them to us at theconcussionblog@comcast.net and consent to possible editing as I see fit.  It would be nice if you included a bio or frame of reference, but if you would like to remain anonymous that is fine to (however, it would be good if you included something like “licensed doctor in _____ (state)” or coach, athletic trainer, mom, dad, etc.

I love people who are as, or more, active about concussion awareness, Jay Fraga has shown he means business.  He sent in his personal story about concussions, now he is elaborating more on the issue of awareness.  I appreciate Jay’s work and urge others to follow in his footsteps.

==========

Beating your head against a wall while suffering from Post Concussion Syndrome is probably counter-productive, yet I seem to find myself doing it (figuratively) virtually every day. We live in an electronic world, and in my electronic travels, I frequently “run” into the very people who I’m trying to get my concussion message across to.  The results are typically frustrating and lead me to ask myself why I bother trying to warn people about the perils of concussion.

Searching Twitter with the hash tag ‘#concussion” will provide a comprehensive selection of Tweets that feature illuminating articles and studies about concussion. I find that it also directs me straight to a painful paradox: kids with concussions who’ve been kept home from school on Doctors’ orders in order to heal, yet who are blissfully Tweeting their health away, 140 characters at a time, with the rapidity of an automatic rifle. If I had a nickel for every time I saw something like “Ahhhhhhhh! Home from school. Hate #concussions !”, I’d have the market absolutely cornered when it came to nickels.

RED ALERT!!!!! (DOCTORS and PARENTS- This is where you come in.)

Kids with concussions are sent home because they need Continue reading

Outreach: BMX Athlete – Jay Fraga, His Story, His Words

20 Nov

We are beginning a new program here at TCB.  This one is called “Outreach”; the purpose is to publicize the good (we hope the vast majority) and sometimes the not so good of concussion management and experiences across this vast planet.  One thing I realized real quick in Zürich is that the stories of the bad are relatively the same, usually highlighted in the media.  Meanwhile the stories of good are different and helpful and not heard at all.  I am asking our readers to send in stories of your cases (please be mindful identifying specifics) so we can share.  There are vast stories in the comment section but I would like to bring forward as many as possible.

The stipulations are simple: 500-2000 words with specific situations that we all can learn from and benefit from, email them to us at theconcussionblog@comcast.net and consent to possible editing as I see fit.  It would be nice if you included a bio or frame of reference, but if you would like to remain anonymous that is fine to (however, it would be good if you included something like “licensed doctor in _____ (state)” or coach, athletic trainer, mom, dad, etc.

————

By Jay Fraga, Former BMX Athlete, Husband, Father, Sports Lover

If you’ve ever had a bad hangover, I think we can all agree that it’s a relief when the day is over, you sleep, and it’s gone when you wake up the next day.

I have had a hangover for as long as I can remember. It’s been there for more than a year and a half. If you can recall the misery and suffering involved in one day with a hangover, maybe you can begin to imagine what it’s like to try to live day-to-day feeling like that.

Then again, maybe you can’t.

My last concussion was approximately 8 months after a previous one that I got crashing in a bike race.  I wasn’t especially symptomatic from the previous one, but all of my doctors virtually agree that I hadn’t yet healed when I was injured again this last time. The scientific community has a number of guidelines for concussion, but the one thing everyone can agree on is that layering a second concussion on top of a previously unhealed concussion is very, very dangerous.

In spite of our knowledge about how dangerous multiple concussions are, we see NFL players being cleared to go out onto the gridiron a week or two after sustaining not one, but two concussions in a three-week span of time, while proclaiming that they feel great, and their coach stands by, nodding approvingly.  Fantastic.

For those of us who struggle to live daily with Post Concussion Syndrome, seeing these stories play out in the news is especially painful.  There is nothing more painful than regret, and many of us watch helplessly as we watch players and coaches, who are in absolute denial, speak nonchalantly and hollowly about a subject that we are intimately acquainted with. We watch knowing full well that there’s a pretty good chance that these players will soon be joining our ranks, where the challenge isn’t a championship at the end of the season, but rather to live like a normal human being and be able to enjoy life. And it feels like there’s nothing that we can do about it.

If we want to change things in sports, we have to understand how athletes operate.  Athletes are wired a little bit differently.  Those who have learned how to overcome –  through the process of competition, loss, reflection, coaching, training, more competition, rising above, winning, and then ultimately understanding how to win, have a different belief set.  They think of themselves as machines that are able to prevail through anything.  Competition becomes a necessary part of their diet, and   Continue reading

Defining success in rehab: exhaustion

14 Nov

Admittedly, I didn’t understand or even appreciate the importance of my physiotherapy rehab after my brain injury. When the doctors first told me that I’d be going to the Miller Centre (the rehab hospital in St. John’s, NL) I was really excited! At least I’d be out of the hospital! I couldn’t sleep. When I was eventually able to eat food it was terrible. I was bored to say the least. I was newly dealing with my double vision, so I couldn’t read. I figured, when I got to rehab, I’d be able to go to the rehab gym all day, at least it was something to do. They’d never seen me at rehab. I’ll be awesome! “Sure I can’t walk now, but you let me at that place for a few weeks and I’ll be running the stairs and doing burpees in the hall in no time!” “I’ll run home one day and won’t need to go back.” It’ll only be a few weeks, a few months tops.

At first, my motivation to get there was to get out of that GD hospital and get the whole ‘brain injury’ thing over. It sucked and there was a bunch of stuff I’d rather be doing. I had a co-op job in Ottawa for my master’s program that I had to get to. Most of my friends from Queen’s were in Ontario, so I’d see them a lot on weekends, whenever. That was the goal. Bang this rehab out and get back to life. An inconvenience. A pretty big inconvenience, and a good story, but an inconvenience is all it was.

I eventually realized that to get back to my old self, physically, was going to take longer than a few months. My motivation was then much harder Continue reading

It’s going to happen, learn from it

8 Nov

Yesterday evening, as I was about to talk to receive a call from someone from the Mayo Clinic about their Concussion Program to discuss how I could be involved, I was thinking about what it is about brain injury that I want to share with people. I’ve said it in a more muddled way before, in posts and talking to others, but that never translates properly into how important I think the point is. Another problem is that we, as a society, haven’t truly realized the prevalence and lasting consequences of brain injury until recently. The effects of brain injury had barely been recognized when it became an epidemic in sports and, not long after, a pandemic. Concussions are going to happen. Brain injury is going to happen. Of course we should look for ways to prevent it and ways to treat it, but perhaps most importantly, we should be responsible adults and stop kidding ourselves that this sort of thing is curable.

This post is not strictly about sports, but I will use sports as an example. Last year in the NFL there were 171 concussions among 1696 players. Approximately 10% of all active players in the league suffered concussions. ‘Wow! Even 1 is too many! That’s shocking!’…No it’s not! The average size of an NFL player varies by position, but to generalize, it’s about 6’2″ and 250 lbs. Average! We’re still not talking about power and the force with which they collide! The NHL is smaller but still above 200 lbs and similar height. However, these guys hit each other at higher speeds in many more games. Obviously, these are adult statistics, but these are adult statistics for people who have been playing the respective game for a long time and know what they’re doing. The youth level in either sport is filled with kids of varying size and drastically varying skill levels.

Look at those numbers and think about any NHL or NFL game you’ve seen, even if it was just highlights. Really think about it. Seriously, think about it. Thanks to all of the attention on brain injury, including concussions, in these past few years, it’s now blatantly clear that there are going to be these types of injuries. What’s truly surprising is that there aren’t more!

Better concussion policies. Better equipment. Better treatment. What seems to have been forgotten is common sense. People getting hit in the head is not some new phenomenon Continue reading

Parental Decisions Can Undercut Good Concussion Laws

6 Nov

We are beginning a new program here at TCB.  This one is called “Outreach”; the purpose is to publicize the good (we hope the vast majority) and sometimes the not so good of concussion management across this vast planet.  One thing I realized real quick in Zurich is that the stories of the bad are relatively the same, but unheard.  Meanwhile the stories of good are different and helpful and not heard at all.  I am asking our readers to send in stories of your cases (please be mindful identifying specifics) so we can share.  There are vast stories in the comment section but I would like to bring forward as many as possible.

The stipulations are simple: 500-2000 words with specific situations that we all can learn from and benefit from, email them to us at theconcussionblog@comcast.net and consent to possible editing as I see fit.  It would be nice if you included a bio or frame of reference, but if you would like to remain anonymous that is fine to (however, it would be good if you included something like “licensed doctor in _____ (state)” or coach, athletic trainer, mom, dad, etc.

As Dr. Kissick stated in Zurich it is high time we start sharing as much information as possible.  I will do my best to weed through the “complaints” and “uninformed” from the group; be a “gate-keeper” if you will.  Trust me (as you have witnessed on this blog) I will get information out!

———-

By Tommy Dean, ATC, LAT

You can’t turn on the TV today or open the newspaper without hearing about concussions. It seems like over the last few years there have been more superstar athletes who have suffered this injury, especially from those who played “back in the day” and are now coming forward and bringing their multitude of recent struggles to the forefront that have been caused by multiple concussions.

But the problem doesn’t start in the NFL. It starts at the youth level. It starts at home.

Every Saturday and Sunday families gather to watch collegiate and NFL games, bringing society together on common ground for a day or two. In a way, however, this culture can also tear us apart. When kids and parents see elite athletes take punishing hits and stumble off the field only to be returned by the medical staff just minutes later it raises questions and causes confusion about concussions.

What must be understood is that there is not one of these injuries that will be treated the same. Your son or daughter at home is NOT the same as RGIII or Melissa Gilbert (Dancing with the Stars). We are talking about the adult, or fully developed brain of an elite athlete who gets paid to do what they do versus the still developing brain of an adolescent who may not yet be legal to drive a vehicle. This is in no stretch of the imagination an apples-to-apples comparison.

What’s disconcerting to me as a certified athletic trainer and a father of two Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,336 other followers