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Terry Ott: Concussion Coverage from Canadian Media is Woefully Lacking

22 Oct

The original purpose of The Concussion Blog was – and still is – to inform those that choose to look about concussions.  Part of this goal has been looking deeper into issues and “lip service” given to the brain injury we know as concussions.  In 2010, when the blog began, this was a novel idea and much of what was written here was “breaking news”.  Along with that, opinions that I shared on the issue were meant to be coming from someone with vast and dynamic experience in concussions.  The initial thought was this was to be a “clearinghouse” for concussion information – and it succeeded.  As years have passed and the media here in the United States has slowly caught on and passed along, mostly, the correct messages TCB has been slower.  However, that does not preclude us from posting information/opinion that we feel needs noticed.  Examples of this have been our white paper on NFL Concussions, the mouth gear controversy and general editorials on published research.

In the past year TCB has been lucky enough to have a journalist spend his own time investigating a part of the global concussion story, in Canada.  Terry Ott, as you may have noticed many of his articles here on the blog.  To be clear, this was all his work and I have become his one and only outlet for his sleuthing and writing.  As he can attest to I don’t always agree with his tact or his tone, but his information is important, especially because in Canada there seems to be a void in the information that would be important to most.  We here at TCB are glad to file his reports as long as he and others understand this is a conduit for discussion and discovery.  I have zero intention of “killing a sport” or “getting someone in trouble”, rather shedding light on some of the problems and issues we face when dealing with concussions.

All of that being said I present to you Ott’s latest (hopefully last here because someone in Canada needs to pick him up) on the concussion issue as it relates to the Great White North.

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WHEN IT COMES TO FOOTBALL CONCUSSIONS, CANADIAN MEDIA BADLY OFFSIDE

Recent New York Times Article Throws Flag

Hamilton, Ontario

October 22, 2014

For the past year readers of The Concussion Blog have learned about the nascent football concussion awareness movement going on in the Great White North, mostly pertaining to how the Canadian Football League, and the mainstream media, have handled-for lack of a better word-the issue.

Years behind the National Football League on the matter, the CFL nonetheless saw the first concussion-related lawsuit come its way last July, accompanied by media attention, much of which was a critical and sometimes downright hostile questioning and smack-down of former 2013  CFL’er Bruce’s groundbreaking statement of claim against the nine member teams of the CFL, neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator, Tator associate Leo Ezerins, and several other parties.

The lawsuit, among other things, alleges that the CFL member teams, and specifically some of Dr. Tator’s published research on TBI and CTE-partly funded by the CFL-mislead Mr. Bruce into believing he was not vulnerable to serious and long-term consequences from concussions he received while playing for the BC Lions. None of the allegations have been proven in court and Tator has filed a defense-covered here previously-that asks for the suit against him to be dismissed, with costs.

Yet other than one small article on former 80s era CFL player Phil Colwell, whose brief story and concussion-related problems appeared in his hometown KW Record paper in Ontario, last spring, your correspondent has been unable to place a single word in any other publication in Canada.

If it were not for Andrew Bucholtz of the Yahoo! Canada CFL 55 yard Line Blog sometimes linking to my stories here, few outside of the Concussion Blog’s sphere ever would have known about what did, and what continues to go on in Canada regarding football concussions and especially, their aftermath. Besides a small mention in the Vancouver Sun by journalist Mike Beamish when the Bruce story hit, no one in Canada besides Bucholtz saw the story as important enough to follow-up, and he has done fine work on his own regarding the concussion problem. As of now, I don’t believe Andrew is on many CFL General Manager or team PR weasel Christmas card lists.  (TSN, the CFL’s television carrier did do a piece on their website about the lawsuit in September that mentioned The Concussion Blog, but it was subsequently removed from their archive shortly after my last story for this site last month, and for reasons so far presumed, but actually unknown at this time to this writer. And I have not seen another story in the Canadian media on the lawsuit since.)

And a week ago, after reading in the Winnipeg Free Press a flattering tome on Dr. Tator from last July that appeared just before he was named as a defendant in the Bruce lawsuit, your correspondent reached out to the paper inquiring whether they would entertain a slightly different take on Tator’s research and related concussion issues via an Op-Ed.

However, after being ping-ponged back and forth between editors at the paper, I was told by an Op-Ed editor that the concussion issue was not “topical,” despite the Jevon Belcher CTE story breaking that week and despite the fact that Winnipeg is home to a CFL franchise. But rather, I was informed,  “Ebola” was of more import to their readers than what is essentially a real world and serious public health concern right now that surely can not be adequately explained by just one or two opinions, opinions which are even controversial within the medical and research community.

Likewise a kiss-off from my hometown CBC News website, whose editor, after some initial back and forth, just stopped responding to my e-mails and never published a piece I wrote on concussions in July even though it partly concerned the former Hamilton Tiger Cat, Phil Colwell.

TVO, the Canadian version of PBS, runs a show called The Agenda-and hell, the guy that hosts it has Hamilton roots!-that never met a contentious or important issue it did not glom on to and yet after receiving one return e-mail from a producer back in July commenting on my “unique” insights, I never heard another word.

Even the nice gal who runs TVO’s documentary film division, after initially offering to ask around if any of the filmmakers she had association with would be interested in the concussion story, none of my further e-mails were answered.

And, after being shut-out by nearly every institution purporting to be doing valid research into football concussions in Canada, I endured a recent 6 week runaround afforded me by the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont. which is supposed to be “partnering” with the Canadian version of the Sports Legacy Institute, but certainly did not do much for their reputation for cooperation with journalists trying to ask valid questions.
So after over a month of BS and excuses, I got nadda from them. I actually felt bad for the PR lady who drew the short stick to deal with me, and then she just stopped responding altogether.
To say that some of my dealings with the Canadian media and medical academia would be a joke, would only serve to denigrate comedy.

So obviously, the question is, why?

A veteran of the sports medicine community in Canada speaking on condition of anonymity said that many in the medical community were “afraid” of upsetting Dr. Tator, who carries much weight in medical academia and research grants around these parts.

The source said that many in the closed community are “buzzing” about Tator  being named in the Bruce lawsuit but do not want to be featured in any story seeming to critique the doctor the TSN story described as “renown.”

However, the New York Times apparently does not have a problem featuring a different Canadian medical professional who, unlike Dr. Tator, does not believe CTE  from football concussions is still open for (serious) debate.  Continue reading

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Players Against Concussions (PAC) Foundation Begins

23 Sep

PAC Image

I received an email and press release about a new foundation for awareness on concussions.  PAC was conceived by Jim McMahon (NFL) and Jeremy Roenick (NHL). PAC’s mission is to become a global leader in concussive education, research and treatment. They have many athletes on board to support this mission as you can see from the invite (bottom). The athletes are the voice in telling their personal stories.  I thought I would pass it along.

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Jim McMahon and Jeremy Roenick Launch Players Against Concussions (PAC) Foundation To Support Concussion Awareness and Prevention

Foundation Kicks Off With Star-Studded PAC Golf Event in Westchester, NY October 6th

Greenwich, Conn. (September 22, 2014)—The numbers are staggering: In 2012, nearly four million athletes suffered concussions, double the number from 2004. Every year, 20% of high school athletes suffer a concussion during any given sports season, and concussion rates are even on the rise among middle schoolers. Concussions often go undiagnosed and multiple concussions can lead to higher risk for permanent neurologic disability. On the flip side of these troubling statistics, sports brings joy to millions and is, without question, a cherished part of our society and culture. Players Against Concussions (PAC) is a new nonprofit organization founded on the uniting principles that we all love sports—but we all want to make them safer. Conceived by Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and NHL All-Star Jeremy Roenick, PAC’s mission is to unite the full spectrum of the sports world—athletes, leaders in research and medicine, coaches, parents, athletic brands and equipment manufacturers—to create a forum and platform where innovation and ideas can be shared to advance the end goal of preserving the sports we love—while making them safer for all who play them.

The PAC mission begins on Monday, October 6th, when celebrities and professional athletes from across the country converge on the Pelham Country Club in Westchester, New York to participate in the First Annual Players Against Concussions Golf Outing. Sponsored by Guidepost Solutions, the daylong kick off event will begin with a morning brunch and press conference from 10am – Noon, followed by an afternoon round of golf, and will conclude with a cocktail hour and dinner beginning at 5pm. Athletes scheduled to attend include Jeremy Roenick, Jim McMahon, Mario Lemieux, Michael Strahan, Darius Rucker, David Cone, David Wells, Ken Daneyko, Rick Rhoden, Bode Miller, Tony Siragusa, Nat Moore, Richard Dent, Otis Wilson, Kevin Millar, Stephane Matteau, Roy Green, Jackie Flynn, Victor Green, Kevin Butler, Joe DeLamielleure, Claudio Reyna, Debbie Dunning, and Jeremy Lincoln (with more athletes and celebrities to be confirmed).

“This is a deeply personal issue for me as both a player and a parent,” said McMahon. “I loved every minute of the football I played as a kid and during my professional career, but Continue reading

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…
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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

MomsTEAM Presents Youth Safety Summit

4 Sep

It is approaching quickly, but if you are in the northeast a week from Monday you really should check into SmartTeams Play Safe™: Protecting the Health & Safety of the Whole Child In Youth Sports By Implementing Best Practices.  There is a myriad of topics to be included:

  • Sport-related concussion best practices
  • The evolving landscape of youth sports safety
  • Injury prevention strategies in youth sports
  • Reducing injury risk in youth football
  • Cognitive rest and return to learn
  • Gender influences on sport-related concussions and outcomes
  • Preventing sudden death in young athletes
  • Cost-effective youth sports injury prevention
  • Overuse injuries, early specialization, and burnout
  • Bullying, emotional and psychological injury prevention
  • InSideOut Coaching: transforming the lives of young athletes
  • Preventing sexual abuse of youth athletes
  • Role of game officials in injury prevention
  • The power of the permit in youth sports safety

The speaker list is studded with some very bright individuals including: Brian Hainline of the NCAA and Doug Casa of the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut and many more.

The cost is $45.00 and looks to be well worth your time and money.  Click the above link for further information and registration.  Tell them The Concussion Blog sent ya!

The day-long event will take a holistic approach to youth sports safety which addresses not just a child’s physical safety, but emotional, psychological and sexual safety as well, and will show how, by following best practices, youth sports programs can stem the rising tide of injuries that have become an all-too-common and unfortunate by-product of today’s hyper-competitive, overspecialized, and over-commercialized youth sports environment.

Thanks Brooke for the press release…  The following is the media contact information:

Media Contact:

Sheila M. Green

Office: (617) 337-9514

Cell: (339) 224-3914

Email: sgreen@thecastlegrp.com

#TheConcussionChallenge

28 Aug

It’s really simple…  Watch this video, then RT or forward in email or post on Facebook…  It’s not as fun as cold water and you won’t be donating money, but you will be understanding concussion and passing that along…  This was the idea of my good friend Katherine Snedaker-Price…

 

At the time of this post there were 787 views, I would like to see that at 2,000 by next week…  Lets do it!!!

#tbt Mouth Guard BS Research!

21 Aug

This was originally posted in May, not a long throwback, but since football started I have been hit up with this question a lot.  So here is the “truth” about this research.  I love the effort and attempt to find a reason; however when you have a critical and FUNDAMENTAL flaws then present it in a way that could be considered fraudulent I have a major problem.  I would also like to add that this research has not been pulled by the publisher.  This is exactly how we get in trouble, the Academy of General Dentistry needs to address this, now, as this peer-reviewed “science” is getting run in media…

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The basic fundamentals we should be cognizant of here are: concussion is a BRAIN injury, the BRAIN floats inside skull, Physics dictates that the BRAIN will move depending on the forces applied to the skull/head (not always from a blow to that area), mouth gear cannot stop the BRAIN from moving, mouth gear cannot attenuate any forces to the skull/head that are not in the oral region, mouth gear does nothing for the skull/head when forces are placed on it in rotational, angular, acceleration or deceleration fashion.

Now that we have that all out-of-the-way this is the General Dentistry article I was asked to comment on.  On face value and from a “peer-reviewed” angle it seems all good.  A significant finding between custom mouth gear (noted as LM MG in article) and over the counter “boil and bite” mouth gear (noted as OTC MG).  However once you take a deeper look there are some peculiar problems, in my humble opinion – that comes later.

First, we should look at the possible limitations of this study that seems well populated and well thought out (honestly these were my first concerns before finding the real issue):

  • Were the injuries controlled for by football position? (we have documented this issue here)
  • Were the injuries controlled for by size of players/school they were playing?
  • Were the injuries controlled for by playing time? (more exposure more risk)
  • Were the injuries controlled for by game vs. practice?
  • Were all the injuries seen and recorded by a single MD or was it the ATC at each school?
  • Did any of the players have a previous history of concussion?
  • Was the study controlled based on practice habits of the teams? (do some hit more than others)
  • How do we know that every player complied with the “no wedging or chewing” rule? (this plays a massive role later)
  • The study says that all 412 subjects wore the same exact helmet, I find that: A) hard to believe and B) was the fit on every player the relatively the same?
  • Who funded this research? (no disclosure)

As you can see there is a litany of reasons I would have dismissed this research, if I were peer reviewing because those limitations are extremely real and realistic to control for in this type of study.  I wrote to the public relations group handling this research and was unable to get a straight answer on those questions I raised.  In the meantime I sent out the article to some better than average “stat nerds” and awaited a response.

While waiting I noticed something really troubling, as in a fatal flaw with the research.  In some places an oversight like this is intolerable, because Continue reading

Terry Ott — E”TF”A: Now 1 of 7 and Counting

31 Jul

Eric "the Flea" Allen Toronto Argonaults 1972. Photo Ted GrantThe information being brought to The Concussion Blog has been astounding, newsworthy, controversial (to some) and welcome.  We are not paying anyone for their guest posts, rather providing a platform for the information.  The inbox is always open for such things – with me as executive editor.  Just because something is posted here does not mean that I or we generally agree or endorse unless otherwise stated.  I have reached out to many people on the other side of this current CFL issue to open my pages to them and have yet to get a post from them.  Honestly, I don’t know that much about the CFL and its players – Doug Flutie being the only one I remember that well.  I truly appreciate the feedback on this continuing saga, but remember this is one journalist, Terry Ott’s, work.  It is here because he cannot find anyone to publish his information in Canada.  I feel this information is important to share.  What follows is Terry’s most recent filing.

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1970s ERA CFL STAR ERIC “The Flea” ALLEN WILL REPORTEDLY SUE CFL FOR ALLEGED MANY HEALTH PROBLEMS AS A RESULT OF PLAY

Former Toronto Argonaut Player Dealing With “Serious” And Debilitating Concussion Related Issues

Hamilton, Ontario — July 30, 2104

Eric “The Flea” Allen starred with the Toronto Argonauts between 1973-1975, and as noted previously here in Sneer and Loafing, is suffering the effects of what is alleged to be serious brain damage caused by multiple concussions while he was playing for the Toronto team, which at the time, was the highest profile and richest franchise in the league.


In an interview, Allen’s mother Rebecca Young, 84, said that Eric’s condition had declined precipitously in the last 6 weeks to the point that her son “can hardly walk now,” even with the aid of a walker, and spends most of the day in bed suffering from vertigo and has recently developed bouts of incontinence as well as suffering from worsening memory and mood issues.

Mrs. Young said that she had recently been visited by Canadian lawyer Robyn Wishart who Mrs. Young said will be representing Mr. Allen in a legal action against the Canadian Football League, allegedly for concussion injuries Allen says he suffered while playing in the league for the Toronto Argos for the three seasons in question.

“She said she was going to do her best to get (us) some help,” said Mrs.Young, of lawyer Wishart. “I hope it’s soon…I’m so tired,” added Mrs. Young, who as the principal caregiver for her debilitated son has a multiple hour drive to take Mr. Allen for treatment at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Ms. Wishart was traveling and did not return telephone calls for comment about Allen’s condition.

Two weeks ago, Arland Bruce, also represented by attorney Wishart, was the first 21st century former CFL player to file suit against the CFL member teams and others for concussion injury. Mr. Allen now marks the first from another era to follow a similar path although legal sources expect any lawsuit alleging head injury prior to any officially established CFL concussion protocols to be constructed quite differently than the Bruce pleadings, possibly along the lines of the now settled NFLPA 1 billion dollar suit against the NFL.

Furthermore, according to a source speaking on condition of anonymity, there are now at least a total of 7 former CFL players, some who played over 50 years ago, currently, or intending to, bring suit against the league for concussion injury.

The Arland Bruce III lawsuit story was national news in Canada for several days after it first broke on this Blog July 16, albeit with some of  the coverage taking on a near inquisition tone regarding Mr. Bruce’s motivations and alleged recent actions.

And unfortunately, your correspondent has been hearing about rumblings/grumblings supposedly originating from within The Great White North sports media community that somehow I have embellished, made up, or even peddled “lies” in my episodic and breaking reporting of the emerging concussion crisis in the CFL during the last 9 months.

In case you still don’t get it boys: this is not about me, but rather the wounded former players and common human decency. The players are making nothing up. Mull that scenario over for a while my suspicious, duplicitous friends.

This latest report on Mr. Allen’s troubles and intentions will hopefully give those uninformed and wrong side of history naysayers some pause before they raise questions about Mr. Allen and his family’s motivations and needs, as well as way, way down the line, mine.

Educational Video: Subject Matters, Featuring Dr. Brady

30 Jul

Blog follower and prolific commentator here, Don Brady, PhD, PsyD, NCSP is featured on ION TV’s “The Subject Matters” from May of 2014.  The video is in two 15 minute chunks:

Dr. Brady is a very good resource and wealth of information.  I suggest you take some time to check out his time on ION TV.

#C4CT Concussion Awareness Summit Reconvenes Next Week

25 Jul

Brewer Sports International and Amarantus Bio Science is continuing their efforts to collaborate and discuss the issue of traumatic brain injury, in particular concussion.  In this version the focus will be on Alzheimer’s;

The #C4CT Concussion Awareness Summit is being convened on July 31, 2014 to explore the potential link between TBI and Alzheimer’s disease.  A diverse working group of clinicians, medical researchers, policy makers, international diplomats, athletes, celebrities, and philanthropic organizations will be assembled to raise awareness, advance clinical research, and develop public policy in order to address this major unmet medical need and public health issue.

The #C4CT Summits have a stated goal to collaborate information and ideas to try and further both understanding and proper response to this issue at hand.  I described it as – using a Japanese proverb – “none of us is as smart as all of us.”  Which is definitely the case for just about anything in life.  However, with so many egos and generally smart people there seems to be a ton of hand-wringing and chest thumping without a lot of resolution.  Jack Brewer and Gerald Commissiong are trying to find a way to get everyone on the same page.  Evidence of this was asking me to be a panelist during the last UN visit in January.  You can see the recap below;

There is still time for you to attend this wonderful event, littered with some great minds and speakers.  If you cannot attend you should follow their twitter feed next Thursday (unfortunately I will be away on vacation so I will not be live blogging the event this time around).

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.

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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

Filed Claim: Arland Bruce III v. CFL Entities

16 Jul

Bruce

The Filed Claim in its entirety can be found HERE.

You will notice the very wide scope and various Defendants.  Certainly it will have to go through the process up in Canada however, it will definitely get some attention:

Like this from The Toronto Sun.

Or this from Twitter:

I would also like to add the follow video of the Commissioner;

Make of this what you will…

Exclusive: First Law Suit Filed in Canada Over Concussions

16 Jul

Terry Ott has filed this BREAKING NEWS in regards to Canadian Football and the Concussion Issue.  We here at The Concussion Blog are pleased to bring this information to you…  You can find the FILED CLAIM HERE.

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FORMER CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE PLAYER SUES LEAGUE MEMBER TEAMS FOR CONCUSSION RELATED INJURY

Lawsuit on Behalf of Star Arland Bruce III Alleges “Fraudulent Concealment” and “Negligent Misrepresentation” By 9 CFL TeamsLeague Commissioner, CFL Alumni Association and Others

Contrary to (popular) opinion, the sports press likes to fling incense, be part of the show, create stars, and to that end prints and televises a fraction of what it knows.” -Mark Kram, formerly of Sports Illustrated 

July 16, 2014
Hamilton, Ontario

The first lawsuit brought against the CFL member teams and others for concussion injury has been filed in Vancouver, British Columbia in the Supreme Court on behalf of Arland Bruce  III, a veteran of 12 seasons as a speedy wide receiver who last played for the Montreal Alouettes in 2013 and also starred on two different Grey Cup winning teams as well as spending the 2003 season with the San Fransisco 49rs.

Bruce, noted in the claim as an “unemployed football player,” is the holder of the record for most receptions in a CFL game (16) and is a three-time CFL All Star.

The claim, so far for unspecified monetary damages, asks for general damages, special damages, general and special damages “in trust” for the care and services provided by his family, and punitive and aggravated damages.

In the claim filed by the Vancouver law firm of  Slater Vecchio LLP and lawyer Robyn L. Wishart, it is alleged that Bruce suffered a concussion and was knocked unconscious in a game played in Regina, Saskatchewan on September 29, 2012 between the BC Lions — Bruce’s team at the time — and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Bruce subsequently returned to play for the Lions in a playoff game on November 18, 2012 and it is alleged that he was still suffering from his previous concussion and it is also alleged he suffered additional concussive and sub-concussive hits during the  Nov. 18 game.

From a copy of the claim, not proven in a court of law, it alleges in part:

  1.  The plaintiff reported concussion signs and symptoms to the BC Lions medical personnel and coaching staff including but not limited to the following:
    1. fogginess;
    2. headaches;
    3. sensitivity to light;
    4. sensitivity to sound;
    5. memory loss;
    6. confusion;
    7. dizziness;
    8. anxiety; and
    9. personality changes.

After the 2012 season, Bruce left the BC Lions and was signed for the 2013 season by the Montreal Alouettes.

Also from the claim: “Further, despite the fact that the plaintiff was displaying the ongoing effects of concussion to medical professionals  and coaching staff, he was permitted to return to play in the 2013 season for Montreal.”

In a 2011 Yahoo! Canada  Sports 55 Yard Line  article by Andrew Bucholtz,  and so noted in the claim, commissioner Mark Cohon said “I am convinced that every concussion is being reported and dealt with. I trust our  doctors. I trust our therapists. I trust our teams to report that.”

And in the 2011 Canadian Football League  concussion “Campaign” directive to the CFL clubs from Cohon advised to “err on the side of extreme caution” when dealing with suspected concussion injury.

Those familiar with my series “3rd Down, CTE To Go,” for the Concussion Blog in 2013 will recall former CFL player Leo Ezerins, now communications director for the Canadian Football League Alumni Association, and Dr. Charles Tator, of the University of Toronto, Krembil Neuroscience Centre, and the Canadian Sports Concussion Project. 

Both Tator and Ezerins believed there were “more questions than answers” between concussion and brain trauma and that “extreme caution” be used in any subsequent diagnosis of CTE.

Accordingly, Ezerins and Tator are named as defendants in the lawsuit and perhaps the most revelatory allegations — again not proven in a court of law — made in the claim are that Bruce continued to play CFL football after suffering concussion  and sub-concussive injuries because:  Continue reading

Nick Mercer: Adjustment/Accomplishment

8 Jul

Nick wrote two quick takes on his experiences with TBI recovery and where he stands, currently.  Here they are presented in one post.  We would like to thank Nick for continuing to post from a unique perspective and appreciate the work he has done for us.

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Adjusting is not quitting.

I finished my Pilates teacher training in Toronto last Sunday – thank you Body Harmonics! I’m feeling great and have confidence that I will be a good and effective teacher. It’s due to the outstanding instruction I’ve gotten from Sarah Stoker at Pony Locale here in St. John’s and the amazing teacher training from Larisa Makuch and Margot McKinnon at Body Harmonics. The excellence of the instruction I’ve received notwithstanding, I’m happy and confident because Pilates suits me. It fits well with my personality and where I am currently; in life, location, and in the time since my brain injury. Pilates wasn’t even in my mind 5 years ago and if you had asked me about taking on Pilates before my brain injury, I wouldn’t have been interested. I am now though. Very interested. And happy and confident too.

I didn’t write this post to talk about Pilates, but about change, about adjustment after, in my case, a very serious brain injury. It’s about having an open mind and knowing that just because adjustment is tough, especially at a challenging point in your life, it doesn’t mean trying something new is a waste of time. Just the opposite actually. While having an unwanted challenge thrown at you can be tough, a challenge you give yourself can be exhilarating! It doesn’t even have to mean a drastic change in your mindset, just a different activity. Before my brain injury, playing water polo and cycling were activities from which I got a lot of enjoyment. I would still love to play a game of water polo like I used to. I would still love to hop on a bike and just ride all day. That doesn’t happen anymore, but, after finally listening to my sister, with encouragement from physios, I decided to try something that keeps me motivated, interested, and looking to improve. Maybe it was something you used to do, but ‘life got in the way’ and you stopped. Maybe it’s something you do every day and would like to know more about. Or maybe it’s something that has never even crossed your mind.

There are aggravating and depressing times while recovering, but those times don’t need to last forever. Instead of refusing yourself of any happiness until you recover all of the abilities you think you have lost, embrace the opportunity to try something different. Whatever that is.

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I’ve received some very nice and intriguing comments about my last post and they led me to write more about the idea of adjusting.

In essence, it’s life. Life is one long adjustment, with a bunch of intermittent adjustments thrown in. I wrote my last post, initially with the idea of talking to brain injury survivors. The more I wrote and gave my views, the more I realized that it applied to everyone who has had to deal with an unintentional life-changing event. Then, after my post (post-post), some comments got me thinking of who else may be able to relate and then thought “everyone”.

Graduation (from high school, college, or university) is an adjustment. A new job is an adjustment. Having kids is an adjustment. Retiring is an adjustment. These are simply easy ones to name, “big” ones. They all get more challenging the less prepared you are for it. For example, graduation is an event you see coming and it’s achieved with intention. It’s viewed as a good thing. An accomplishment. All of those events, when approached with intention and preparation are what we view as accomplishments. Intention and preparation.

Those two important elements are generally lacking when an accident happens and we’re forced to make an adjustment. Although making adjustments are what life’s all about, and although life is viewed as a good thing, ‘adjustment’ has a negative connotation. People are “forced to make adjustments” and even when given a positive spin, it’s with a qualifier – “a good adjustment”, “the correct adjustment”.

Since adjustments are such an essential and ever-present part of life, viewing them negatively goes against the whole notion of life being good. Embracing the idea of adjustment, that adjustment makes life more interesting (whether due to a “good” or “bad” event), gives a new look to challenges.

It’s not about ‘making the best of a bad situation’, it’s simply about adjusting.

Arkansas Looks Into Hit Limits

18 Jun

Over two years ago I sent an open letter and proposals to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) regarding hit limits in football.  Some took this as a “candy ass” approach and one that was not needed.  I disagreed with that assessment, in fact, I felt that what I wrote at the time was proactive and could be a way for this state to be a leader in the area of protection in concussions;

I am writing this letter to address the growing concern of concussions in sports, mainly in football.  It should be noted that football is not the only sport with a concussion issue; however this sport combines the highest participation, highest risk, and highest visibility.  This letter should not be construed as an attack on the sport of football, but rather a way to keep the sport continuing to grow.[...]

Recent evidence suggests that even the subconcussive hits – those that effectively “rattle” the brain but do not produce signs or symptoms – become problematic as the season wears on, let alone a career.  As the researchers in this field gain focus and more specific diagnostic tools, I feel we will see damning evidence that will put collision sports in jeopardy as they are currently constructed – the key being “as they are currently”.  There can be a change, both positive and proactive, that will signal to everyone that the IHSA is taking this matter seriously and can set a nationwide standard.

Needless to say it was brushed aside and was ignored, except for a kind email saying things were happening behind the scenes.  Now, two years and one month later there could be a 12th – TWELVE – states that have contact limits in place for high school football; as Arkansas looks into the matter;

According to reports, the Arkansas Activities Association has passed a recommendation to ask school superintendents to cut full contact practice time to just three times during game weeks. With one of those being the game itself, it leaves just two days of tackling if the proposal passes.

Jason Cates is the lead trainer for Cabot High School, and the former President of the Arkansas Athletic Trainers’ Association, he says, “Something has to be done.”

“The more studies that are showing that hit counts do count and add up.”

The Arkansas proposal limits the full contact days to three, opposed to the two I proposed, but it seems to me that others have seen the light.  That light is both the end of the tunnel and the oncoming freight train.  Kids need Continue reading

Hit Count Symposium

16 Jun

If you have a son or daughter in Little League Baseball you probably have heard of a pitch count.  Basically it is a set number of pitches a pitcher can throw in a certain time period.  The reasoning seems simple and sound, in my opinion; to protect the overuse of the arm/elbow.  Sure, there are many coaches out there in the baseball world that know what they are doing and will only throw players when they are fully rested.  On the other hand there a plenty of coaches out there that either don’t know or knowingly put players at risk when it comes to overuse of the pitching arm.

This has a relation to the concussion world; well, Sports Legacy Institute hopes so.  In an effort to be PROACTIVE about issues surrounding concussions and especially the youth players of collision sports SLI has created an initiative to limit, log and research “hits” absorbed.  I have blogged about it here when the initiative began.

Like many things that are new and different, people often dismiss or fail to grasp what is being attempted or cannot see what may be accomplished by doing them.  In regards to the Hit Count, it to is simple; limit the number of hits one sustains while playing sports – collision sports to begin with.

I may not be the worlds biggest advocate for sensor technology as we currently know it, however this approach is different and unique.  It is something that should be paid attention to, if not for the currently proposed reasons, at the very least the research capability.  How can we know if we don’t know.  In other words; how can we measure if we are making a difference with any of our so-called “advances in concussion issues” if there is not something to measure it against.  For a small niche in the medical community that is all about “baselines” and return to “normal” our peers seem to get all squirmy when people want to find this baseline.

The Hit Count most likely will not be the panacea which our culture so desperately wants but this is at least a step in the right direction.  Below you can see the full press release on the Symposium.  I cannot attend on July 15th, but I have been afforded two (2) transferable registrations.  Please contact me if you will be in the area and are looking to attend.  Without further ado:

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For Immediate Release —Thursday, June 12, 2014

Media Contact: Chelsea McLeod (781) 262-3324 or cmcleod@sportslegacy.org

Sports Legacy Institute Announces 2014 Hit Count® Symposium to be Held on Tuesday, July 15, at the Boston University School of Medicine to Advance Discussion on Use of Head Impact Sensors in Sports to Prevent Concussions

Co-Chaired by Dr. Robert Cantu and Dr. Gerry Gioia, event will gather researchers, athletic trainers, coaches, parents, athletes, medical professionals, and administrators to explore how Hit Count® Certified sensors can be used to improve brain safety  Continue reading

A Preliminary Investigation of Active and Retired NFL Players’ Knowledge of Concussion (2004)

19 May

Below is an excerpt from a dissertation from Don Brady, PhD, PsyD, NCSP wrote ten years ago.  Although the year of publishing might seem aged, there are pertinent and salient points to behold in this.  Without further ado…

TBI and Postconcussion:  Many Years of Controversy

Vague and inconsistent definitions of the constructs used to explain a [concussion] brain injury, coupled with confusion and misunderstanding of brain injury symptoms, create further problems in the study of sports-related concussion research.  Wills and Leathem (2001) amplify: “The quagmire created by the use of inconsistent, overlapping and poorly defined terminology relating to brain injury research is exacerbated in sport-related research” (p. 646).

Common synonyms for concussion include mild traumatic brain injury (mild TBI) and minor closed head injury (minor CHI) (Kelly, 1999). Other terms which have been utilized since last century to describe the concept of a mild brain injury include: spinal concussion, railway spine, railway brain, traumatic neurosis, nervous shock, traumatic hysteria, traumatic hysteroneurasthenia, spinal anemia, vasomotor symptom complex, litigation neurosis, compensation neurosis, accident neurosis, Erichsen’s disease, Friedmann’s disease, traumatic neurasthenia, the posttraumatic concussion state, the posttraumatic psychoneurotic state, traumatic encephalopathy, posttraumatic cerebral syndrome, posttraumatic syndrome, post traumatic nervous instability, postconcussion syndrome, postconcussive syndrome, postconcussional syndrome, posttraumatic stress  syndrome, and a persistent postconcussive syndrome (p. 32).

Gerstenbrand and Stepan (2001) also reported a variety of terms being used to describe minor brain injury: “mild head injury, mild injury, traumatic head syndrome, postbrain injury syndrome, mild concussion syndrome, postconcussional syndrome, traumatic cephalgia, posttraumatic syndrome, Commotio cerebri, light traumatic brain injury damage and mild traumatic brain injury” (p. 95).

Approximately 50% of persons who sustained a TBI experienced postconcussion syndrome (PCS), which manifested itself in various symptoms that were not present in the person prior to sustaining the concussion (Bazarian & Atabaki, 2001). Although controversy exists Continue reading

General Dentistry Publishes a Bombshell About Mouth Guards (ADDENDUM)

5 May

Is it a bombshell or is it just a plain dud?  I say bombshell, but not in a good way for anyone involved with this “research”.

Last week I was inundated with emails regarding this “new” research about mouth guards and concussions.  There were roughly 16 emails in a one hour time span; some wanting comment, some telling me I have been wrong all along, some promoting the research.  This was a “huge” development in my area and my little corner in the blogosphere.  To fully understand perhaps some history is needed (“mouth gear” search on this blog) when it comes to my feelings on mouth gear and concussions.  Here are some selected comments attributed to me;

The basic fundamentals we should be cognizant of here are: concussion is a BRAIN injury, the BRAIN floats inside skull, Physics dictates that the BRAIN will move depending on the forces applied to the skull/head (not always from a blow to that area), mouth gear cannot stop the BRAIN from moving, mouth gear cannot attenuate any forces to the skull/head that are not in the oral region, mouth gear does nothing for the skull/head when forces are placed on it in rotational, angular, acceleration or deceleration fashion.

Now that we have that all out-of-the-way this is the General Dentistry article I was asked to comment on.  On face value and from a “peer-reviewed” angle it Continue reading

Please Let This Be The Beginning: A Public Invitation

28 Apr

The blog began simply enough, making notice of information about concussion in a time when there was so much misunderstanding.  It turned into a cathartic exercise on how I have dealt with concussions as an athletic trainer – the good and the bad.  It has slowly morphed into a platform for change; not only concussions but the healthcare profession of athletic training, in particular at the secondary school level (high school).

Adolescent concussion is not only staggering in terms of exposure but in terms of mismanagement, the true problem in this concussion crisis, in my humble opinion.  I feel – biased – that athletic trainers not only can help with the management but with the overall “acceptance” of this brain injury as it relates to sports.  Because of those thoughts I have been openly and behind the scenes, clamoring for a way to get more AT’s in the high school.  Not just game-day ATC’s either, full-time and daily coverage for our most vulnerable.  The analogy still remains: would you send you kid to a public swimming pool without a life guard on duty?  Why would you send your kid to collision sports without an athletic trainer on duty?

Yes, this is being spurred on by the concussion issue at hand, but in reality an athletic trainer is SO MUCH MORE!  We deal with the mundane (common cold) to the emergent (cardiac arrest) when it comes to athletic or high school (dealing with situations during a school day) injuries.

I came across a tweet today from Rick Burkholder (@proatc), Head Athletic Trainer of the Kansas City Chiefs that is putting this into action.

The NFL is starting a grant process to place certified athletic trainers (ATC’s) into more high schools.  The monies are limited from what I can tell, but this is the start that I have been dreaming of for the past few years.

You can read the entire NFLF ATC Grant by clicking on the link to see all the details but here are the highlights: Continue reading

Refreshing Words From an Athlete

24 Apr

It’s my “off-season” of sorts here on the blog.  Add into that a growing, young family and time just seems to be hard to come by (not to mention my real “day job” of taking care of hundreds of athletes at a high school).  However, I am always listening and reading.

Today I stumbled across an Australian Rules (Footy) article about a knee injury but what I found in the article was a quote, from a professional athlete, that made me smile.  It seems that self-awareness and concussions is starting to take root (emphasis mine);

“I went to lunge to tackle Dangerfield and I remember Jimmy coming the other way and he sort of clipped my head and at the time, I didn’t think too much about my knee, I was more worried about my head,” Armitage told AFL.com.au after he was released from hospital on Wednesday.

If you read about the knee injury and the subsequent teammates horror over that you would wonder why he was thinking about his head.  David Armitage, without realizing it, has shown people, athletes are cognizant of concussion and in this instance placing that injury above a knee injury (albeit a laceration – significant enough to warrant a nine-day hospital stay).

This is where we need to get to, acceptance of the injury.  Understand that this will and can happen and then move on from there.

Its not the injury of concussion that is the real issue, rather it is the mismanagement of the concussion that is the real problem.

Sylvia Mackey – Video

27 Mar

In a follow-up, and what I believe to be the same presentation that Elanor Profetto’s video is from a very strong and wonderful woman, Sylvia Mackey, “Mrs. 88″ gives a talk about brain injury.  She also has intimate and troubling experience with what brain injury/disease can do as she took care of the great John Mackey in is twilight.

Keep on learning and listening!

A Decent Video

24 Mar

I am finding it hard to find time to post, obviously, but I will get back to this as soon as I can.  For the time being here is a decent video I have had forwarded to me that can be a good example of concussion or mTBI…

I would love to see discussion on this, below!

TCB Commenter Highlighted in Canadian Press

18 Mar

If you visit here enough and take the time to look at the comments at the end of the posts you might notice a person named “Phil”.  He especially took time to comment on the work of Terry Ott and his seven-part series about CTE in the CFL.  Thanks to Terry and this blog we are all able to get the genuine views of a former player in the CFL, Phil Colwell, via The Record from Canada and Terry Ott;

Colwell’s brief CFL career ended in 1981 after a violent on-field collision in a game at Winnipeg Stadium. He was playing for the Toronto Argonauts on that crisp and sunny day in October.

Covering a kickoff, Colwell, a solid six-two, 195-pounder with sprinter speed, was blindsided through the ear hole of his helmet by a Winnipeg player and was knocked out cold. He lay motionless on the field while a trainer ran to his assistance. No penalty was called on the play.

This is the type of story that Ott has sent out to tell from the beginning, placing faces and human behind the issue that has become one of the preeminent problems with football.  Yes, this is not isolated to football but we would be remiss if we didn’t expose and tell the stories of the most oft afflicted in the “head games” we now find ourselves knee-deep in;

Colwell, who graduated from Laurier with a psychology degree, found work with a Scottish government agency but continued to suffer bouts of depression and mood swings. He says accompanying anger issues and self-medicating led to moderate bouts of short-term or primary memory loss. Colwell says he frequently “loses the right words.”

The Scottish doctors he consulted were not familiar with professional football Continue reading

Arizona Concussion Conference – NEXT WEEK

14 Mar

AZ Concussion Conf.

I realize this is, kind of, short notice, but space remains for this good-looking concussion conference in Arizona, next week.  However;

The CACTIS Foundation and Banner Concussion Center present recognized thought leaders at the Third Annual Current Topics in Sports Medicine and Concussions 2014: The Essentials Saturday March 22nd in Scottsdale, AZ, at The Scottsdale Plaza Hotel.  The conference will increase awareness of the health risks to athletes, cover the importance of baseline evaluation in athletes, review assessment tools, and discuss best practices for managing patients with concussions.

You can REGISTER HERE.

The list of speakers is very diverse and has a “west coast” vibe to them, here are some of the presenters:

  • Christopher C. Giza, MD – UCLA
  • Stephen M. Erickson, MD – MLB Umpire Medical Services
  • Shelly Massingale, PT – Banner Concussion Center
  • Bridgett Wallace, DPT – Concussion Health
  • Charlie Shearer, OD – Consultant, Colorado Rockies

Continuing Education credits are provided through this learning opportunity, you can see the AGENDA HERE.

#tbt Post: Mild Concussions

13 Mar

Originally Posted January, 2011…

Hogwash!  There is NOTHING mild about a concussion, period.  However media, teams, players and even medical staffs continue to use this nomenclature with this injury.  It is simply counterproductive to label this injury with a “mild” tag, and hampers the effort of everyone trying to increase awareness.

Granted, those that have extensive training in the area of injuries, and particularly head injuries, understand the term “mild” when it is in concert with concussion.  This subset of the population is not the one that needs the education, rather it is the general public, which includes players, coaches and parents.  A common problem amongst people who are educated in a particular field is that they forget about both who they are servicing and the education level of people other than their peers.  It’s a fine balance to educate without talking down to others, but understanding the stigmas of the topics help with that effort.

One serious stigma is the “mild” tag that is placed on concussions.  Those that watch and participate in sports are so used to using that clarification when assessing and addressing injuries as a whole, that perhaps it carries over to the traumatic brain injury just sustained by the athlete.  We as athletic trainers and doctors need to reassess how we describe this particular injury.

During my public speaking I often relate being “mildly” concussed to being “mildly” pregnant…  You are either concussed or not, just like you are pregnant or not.

Some may say that “the symptoms are mild”, or that the  Continue reading

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