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#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

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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

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

Repost: Matt Chaney’s Take on Heads Up Football

21 Feb

The following was posted here on TCB 10/24/13, I feel with the traffic it has been garnering that it should be reposted at the top of the cue for the time being.  It is worth comment and questions…

The post below is from Matt Chaney’s Blog, re-posted (in part) here with his permission.  We are posting it here not as an endorsement, rather as an opposing view that is worth the read.  Our commentary on this article by Chaney will be below this post.  We encourage everyone to see the entire post on his blog.  You can view it by clicking on the hotlink, it is titled; ‘Heads Up Football’: Truth, Tales and Legal Consequences.  *Chaney has moved his blog and we are efforting the current link of his original article.  However, he does read the comments from time to time so if you have question leave it here and he may get to it.

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By Matt Chaney

Posted Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Peter King posits bogus hitting technique as Safer Football in Sports Illustrated

—geezuz, the further we go in this latest football crisis, the worse many people become, willingly, on behalf of the sexy blood sport… and so Peter King of SI skips along, telling us bona fide prevention is possible for football’s irreversible head-ramming… a new post by the Hall of Fame football scribe portrays Heads Up ‘proper contact’ as legitimate; King purports this theoretical headless hitting can be instilled by coaches, enforced by referees, adopted by players… I’d like to see King demonstrate on a football field, suited-up himself for forward collisions governed by physics and bullet-head helmets; he’d ram, too, or get his ass kicked… look, folks, players cannot govern or stop ramming on a football field; rather, forces of the crazy game dictate human behavior… forget talk and trust your eyesight, especially naïve parents and kids, to understand Heads Up ‘technique’ is invalid, unreliable, a lienothing new: it’s mere rehash of musty old ‘head up’ form hitting, proven invalid since the 1960s… here’s King, introducing his discussion:

What’s been eye-opening to discover is the trickle-down effect from the NFL to youth football. As the pro league emphasizes safety more and more, so do high schools around America. … Coaches are concerned; 41 of 49 polled [by SI] said they have modified training techniques because of increased education about concussions and head trauma.

—sure, trickle-down effect will reform football danger, once again… solution for brain trauma in the collision game is just around the corner… like trickle-down ‘steroid awareness’ for football’s immense problem with anabolic substances…  King continues:

Several high school coaches emphasized the NFL teaching new tackling techniques, such as “Heads Up Football,” which teaches coaches to train kids to tackle with heads up—instead of using the helmet as a battering ram. Said Middlebury Union (Vt.) coach Dennis Smith: “In any drills we’re doing—whether it be fundamental drills at the beginning of practices, especially defensive practices—we’re always stressing head up. You have to be able to see what you’re tackling.” … Said Brandon (Miss.) coach Brad Peterson: “We always start the year, whether spring or fall, with walking through the proper techniques of tackling.” … The coach of E.O. Smith High in Storrs, Conn., Jody Minotti, said he knows he can’t prevent every concussion, but he trains his players to minimize the risks. “We do less contact throughout the week and we teach proper tackling,” said Minotti. “We preach in practice all of the time, ‘Bite the ball. Bite the ball.’ That means keep your head up and don’t ever lead with your helmet. We film tackling, we talk about tackling whenever we’re watching film.”

—huh, these coaches don’t address the facemask dilemma, the prime fault of football rules behind the charade of Continue reading

Interesting Take On Tackling

26 Dec

I have been fortunate to be in some great email “groups” with information that surrounds the playing of sports.  Of course I have been attracted to concussion and those ancillary problems surrounding the brain injury.  It not only furthers, the some time outrageous, fodder but it also provides some critical thinking.

Matt Chaney has been doing a great job of circulating information – mainly about football – and from time to time I get some links that I feel would be best shared for “group thought process”.  A quick aside: Chaney’s blog has been removed from cyberspace due to some confounding issues on the user end, but he will dredge up his information in the coming weeks and re-launch his blog.  Back to the post…

Here is how Chaney describes this forthcoming link:

–super piece by a very interesting writer, an outstanding athlete-scribe, Doug Brown in Canada, former CFL D-lineman… he nails NFL rule-making as lousy lipstick on the pig… great points on the folly of ‘proper form’ or Heads Up or ‘safe tackling’ especially in the head-on avenues of football contact, or the ‘allies’ on-field, as Brown refers…. the tunnel effect of forward contact… though I don’t see any wall-in by other players as necessary for a head-on collision; it’s all about angles of intersecting opponents, and all you need are two principals incoming, ballcarrier and tackler, each with his mission…. boom!…. Doug Brown

I share his sentiments on the article, it brings to light some of the things we CANNOT get rid of in current football.  But does that make the game “unsafe”?  That is the penultimate question; further if it is a problem how can it even be solved?

Here is an excerpt from Doug Brown’s article that appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press;

When an offensive and defensive player meet in an alley, the options for tackling from an angle, or putting your head to the side of the ball carrier are absent. Instinct and self preservation in football tells a ball carrier to lower his head and shoulder pads when he anticipates a collision. Hitting a ball carrier above Continue reading

C3 Logix: Practical Application and Use (It’s Freaking Awesome)

13 Nov

Last year while in Zürich I was approached by a group of people from the Cleveland Clinic and they had a poster they wanted to show me.  It had numbers, graphs and pictures – your normal poster at a conference – but what caught my eye was an iPad strapped on the back of a patient that was measuring movement.  I asked very basic questions and to be frank I was a bit overwhelmed at the entire company I was keeping in Zürich, so the poster was a blur.

After that chance meeting and getting back to the States I really forgot about the project until the spring when I started to hear more about it in the underground.  This testing platform was starting to get noticed and being from one of, if not currently the most, prestigious concussion care centers only helped matters.  I wanted to learn more; and in August that chance finally presented itself as the company selling the C3 Logix, Just Go Products, was able to connect with me for a webinar.

I was very blown away with what they were presenting to me – which is probably what the development team in Zürich was telling me – so much so that I wrote a glowing post on it.  Since that time I have worked hard to find a way to procure the system for use; if nothing more to test it out and see if my perceptions were reality.  This goal of mine finally became a reality, not only was I able to get the iPad needed and the app, C3 even offered to send out a technician (really that may be underselling David, he is a nerd but a very good nerd) to help me get accustomed to it.

This past Friday I scheduled the winter sports concussion testing for my high school; the freshman and juniors that have not already done so completed a popular version of the computer based neurocognitive testing, while the other freshman and juniors along with seniors were up for the “beta test” on the C3 Logix platform.  With the split we had 30 kids Continue reading

Matt Chaney’s Take on Heads Up Football

24 Oct

The post below is from Matt Chaney’s Blog, re-posted (in part) here with his permission.  We are posting it here not as an endorsement, rather as an opposing view that is worth the read.  Our commentary on this article by Chaney will be below this post.  We encourage everyone to see the entire post on his blog.  You can view it by clicking on the hotlink, it is titled; ‘Heads Up Football': Truth, Tales and Legal Consequences.

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By Matt Chaney

Posted Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Peter King posits bogus hitting technique as Safer Football in Sports Illustrated

—geezuz, the further we go in this latest football crisis, the worse many people become, willingly, on behalf of the sexy blood sport… and so Peter King of SI skips along, telling us bona fide prevention is possible for football’s irreversible head-ramming… a new post by the Hall of Fame football scribe portrays Heads Up ‘proper contact’ as legitimate; King purports this theoretical headless hitting can be instilled by coaches, enforced by referees, adopted by players… I’d like to see King demonstrate on a football field, suited-up himself for forward collisions governed by physics and bullet-head helmets; he’d ram, too, or get his ass kicked… look, folks, players cannot govern or stop ramming on a football field; rather, forces of the crazy game dictate human behavior… forget talk and trust your eyesight, especially naïve parents and kids, to understand Heads Up ‘technique’ is invalid, unreliable, a lienothing new: it’s mere rehash of musty old ‘head up’ form hitting, proven invalid since the 1960s… here’s King, introducing his discussion:

What’s been eye-opening to discover is the trickle-down effect from the NFL to youth football. As the pro league emphasizes safety more and more, so do high schools around America. … Coaches are concerned; 41 of 49 polled [by SI] said they have modified training techniques because of increased education about concussions and head trauma.

—sure, trickle-down effect will reform football danger, once again… solution for brain trauma in the collision game is just around the corner… like trickle-down ‘steroid awareness’ for football’s immense problem with anabolic substances…  King continues:

Several high school coaches emphasized the NFL teaching new tackling techniques, such as “Heads Up Football,” which teaches coaches to train kids to tackle with heads up—instead of using the helmet as a battering ram. Said Middlebury Union (Vt.) coach Dennis Smith: “In any drills we’re doing—whether it be fundamental drills at the beginning of practices, especially defensive practices—we’re always stressing head up. You have to be able to see what you’re tackling.” … Said Brandon (Miss.) coach Brad Peterson: “We always start the year, whether spring or fall, with walking through the proper techniques of tackling.” … The coach of E.O. Smith High in Storrs, Conn., Jody Minotti, said he knows he can’t prevent every concussion, but he trains his players to minimize the risks. “We do less contact throughout the week and we teach proper tackling,” said Minotti. “We preach in practice all of the time, ‘Bite the ball. Bite the ball.’ That means keep your head up and don’t ever lead with your helmet. We film tackling, we talk about tackling whenever we’re watching film.”

—huh, these coaches don’t address the facemask dilemma, the prime fault of football rules behind the charade of Heads Up, ‘proper contact,’ ‘head up technique,’ ‘anti-butting’ or whatever term… this toothless policy and language have been a football mandate since 1976, for high schools and the NCAA… the rules specifically ban Continue reading

Boston Globe Opinion: James Carroll

7 Jan

It certainly is not the first opinion piece that has graced the papers in recent year, nor will it be the last, but James Carroll’s opinion piece does take a reflective look at the sport and issue we now face;

Even as a high school kid, I knew that more honor was to be had in playing through an injury than in the few passes I actually ever caught.

As I learned when my parents later took me to the doctor, I had suffered a concussion. That was nothing to the embarrassment I felt when they made me tell Coach I’d be sitting out practice for a week. His sneer flooded me with shame. That simply, I’d been plunged into the macho heart of football — a gladiator ethos which has lately drawn scrutiny because, indeed, of brain concussions.

This attitude must change when it comes to playing with concussions.  The entire game or mindset does not need to be completely rewritten, rather the view-point of one specific injury needs to be changed up.  Can you imagine what Bo Shemblecher or Woody Hays would have thought about spreading 5 wide receivers out and only have the QB in the backfield in shotgun?  Certainly they would have thought the game was coming to an end.

Naturally since the sport of football is so popular any type of tinkering or changing the game many people, especially those established in the sport, feel they are personally taking something away.

Listen, concussions are not good, in the short-term or long-term, and its and injury that will be part of football and of other sports too.  Some changes are necessary to protect the player – Continue reading

Nick Mercer: Understanding Runs Both Ways

12 Dec

First off, Movember 2012 is over and the moustache is gone. Thank you to everyone who donated, whether it was to me or not, the money goes to the same very worthwhile cause.

Now, onto the post…

Yesterday, I tweeted  a story from the New York Times, “Report Urges ‘Cultural Shift’ as Hockey Coaches Defy Concussion Specialists”. In the study, in the Journal of Neurosurgery, Dr. Paul Echlin writes, “Concussion is a significant public health issue that requires a generational shift. As with smoking or seat belts, it doesn’t just happen overnight — it takes a massive effort and collective movement.” I couldn’t agree more! Which leads me to this post.

I’ve previously written about this idea and I’m happy to see that I’m not alone. For this ‘generational shift’ and ‘massive effort and collective movement” to occur, we need to stop dividing ourselves. Right now, there seem to be two camps. Those who’ve had a brain injury or have a close relationship with someone who has, and those who play contact sports and relish the ‘contact’ aspect. The latter is the group that we’re trying to educate about concussions and the former is the group that knows about it all too well.

There has been a blatant ‘make them understand’ movement and, not surprisingly, it hasn’t worked overnight, or it’s been begrudgingly accepted. At times, the higher levels of an organization like the NHL or NFL  have fully endorsed changes to contact rules and have subsequently, unilaterally imposed them on the players and officials. In the case of the NFL,Commissioner Roger Goodell, counter-productively and idiotically, pushed for a longer season, so players could collide more and have more opportunity to be concussed. But I digress…

It feels like there is a discernible “you’re either with us or against us” attitude. Not to get too political here, but Continue reading

More Mouthguards Make Our List

23 Oct

This is not a prestigious list by the way, it is more of a “beware of list”, and two different companies/mouthguards have now found my ire.  Perhaps I was “Pollyanna-ish” about companies continuing to claim that this particular piece of equipment can attenuate concussions or even reduce problems; it should have been fair warning with the FTC’s decision on Brain-Pad.

Any device placed in the mouth is for oral-dental protection, nothing more.  Any claims otherwise are not based on any scientific evidence, because none exists to my knowledge.  If you want to prevent what you see in the picture you must wear a mouthguard/device.  If you want to prevent concussions, don’t participate in collision or contact sports, period.

If I told you that one company says;

“A serious blow to the head can leave you with significant physical and mental problems years after you’ve hung up your equipment. Gladiator® may prevent or reduce the severity of concussion.”

What would you say to that?  But they are not the only one;

“By wearing a Guardian Mouthguard, you are helping to protect yourself against concussions!”

That will be the last time I mention those companies.  I don’t like to send traffic their way, but if you do not believe me Continue reading

Banning of football as a whole is NOT the answer

7 Aug

The goal of a writer is to bring eyes to their information/opinion to draw eyes for advertisers who in turn pay for the publishing of the article – in a very cut and dry manner.  With the troubles facing sports, particularly football, more and more articles have hit the interweb; often the most cited are those that trample on our beliefs of sport.

George Will penned an article that did just that as he opined that football should be ended because it cannot be “fixed”, a growing belief amongst some.  I am here to tell you that although football has its issues and concussions are high on the list, this is the case with many other sports; hockey, lacrosse and soccer being some off the top of my head.  Will does have some salient points;

After 20 years of caring for her husband, Easterling’s widow is one of more than 3,000 plaintiffs — former players, spouses, relatives — in a lawsuit charging that the NFL inadequately acted on knowledge it had, or should have had, about hazards such as CTE. We are, however, rapidly reaching the point where playing football is like smoking cigarettes: The risks are well-known.[...]

Furthermore, in this age of bubble-wrapped children, when parents put helmets on wee tricycle riders, many children are going to be steered away from youth football, diverting the flow of talent to the benefit of other sports.[...]

The lawsuits have nothing to do with the risk of injury, they have everything to do with whether the league knew about the long-term risks during that time and did not disclose that to the players.  The injury of concussion can occur outside of sports, in fact the majority of concussions come from recreational activities like: skate boarding, back yard touch football, playgrounds, bike riding and driving.  Even if the lawsuits are a reason for Continue reading

Echoing “Concussion Prevention” Concerns

2 Aug

On Paul Anderson’s (@PaulD_Anderson) NFL Concussion Litigation blog a guest post went up the other day taking on the ever-growing concern of concussion “prevention” products.  The article was written by Andrew M. Belcher, MD (@the_jockdoc) and plainly explains it is buyer beware, as concussions are more than protection for the skull;

So then what we really need to prevent concussions are seatbelts and airbags for our brains inside of our skulls.  Here’s one more example to make it clear.  Shaken baby syndrome is caused by shaking a screaming baby back and forth to make them stop crying.  Even though their head never hits anything, the shaking leads to brain damage.  Would wearing a baby helmet have helped?  Of course not.  So how can a helmet possibly eliminate concussions in football.  It can’t.  Any protective device that claims to prevent concussions in a contact sport is false advertising and may be giving athletes a false sense of security.  How can athletes be well informed of the risks they are taking when the advertising by equipment manufacturers minimizes the risks?  The only way to prevent concussions is not to step on the field in the first place.

Very succinct and spot on, concussions are not mainly caused by linear forces to the skull; they are created by acceleration and deceleration of the brain INSIDE the skull.  Products that claim that they prevent concussions are borderline fraudulent, as there is NO study available that any current product can prevent concussions.  Sure, some can attenuate certain (see linear) forces to the head region, but other than a HANS device there is nothing in sport that limits the acceleration/deceleration or rotational properties of brain trauma.  In fact, increasing the weight of the head can increase mass, therefore by the laws of Physic’s, increase the overall force.

There is no guessing where I stand on the claims put forth by Continue reading

Reflecting on Concussions: Chris Wallace

13 Jul

Chris Wallace, a writer and editor in New York, is a former football quarterback.  In the Paris Review he recently wrote a first hand story about concussions and its lasting effects.  It deserves the read but here are some snipets;

Late in the third quarter of a blowout loss at North Torrance High School my junior year I woke up in a blurry huddle. Grids of stadium lighting were smeared on the South Bay night sky as if they’d been moved before they dried. My teammates stood around me in their away whites, the sateen jerseys looking smudged and shabby in the dark. I shouldn’t have been surprised if a star suddenly dilated just to wink at me, such was my loopy state of mind—and my self-regard as a high school quarterback.

A timeout had been called, apparently. There was no apparent rush to get back to the line of scrimmage, run another play. And our coach was in the huddle with us. Oh, thank god, I thought, Coach is playing. I’d never seen him in uniform before, but didn’t think to question it—we needed all the help we could get. Though, standing next to the star receiver with whom he’d traded outfits, he did look a lot taller than normal.

[...]

My second serious concussion Continue reading

In the category of NOT shocking; Catastrophic Brain Injuries Rising in Football

18 Apr

digtriad.com posted a story written by WFMY News 2 about the recent report from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (NCCSIR);

Monday, researchers at UNC Chapel Hill said catastrophic brain injuries associated with full-contact football appear to be rising, especially among high school students.

They call the increase alarming and said it indicates that more coaches and athletic trainers should change how they teach the fundamental skills of the game.

Until recently, the number of football-related brain injuries with permanent disability in high school had remained in the single digits since 1984.

However, in 2008 and 2009 10 injuries were recorded and in 2011 there were 13 injuries recorded. That’s according to the latest catastrophic football injury research annual report from the UNC-based National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research.

To me it is a double-edged resource; on one hand it is good the “good ol’ boys” of the research world (aka those most listened to) have presented this material.  On the other hand we have published information about this research BEFORE its release recently with the tremendous work of/by Matt Chaney.

The full report from the NCCSIR can be found here, it chronicles the catastrophic injuries from 1977 – 2011.

However with the recent and VERY accurate listings from Chaney there seems to be a difference, which Chaney so eloquently put it in an email to me; Continue reading

NYT Op-Ed by Joe Nocera

8 Feb

I had missed this article but thanks to an email I think everyone should take a look at this op-ed piece from the New York Times by Joe Nocera titled “The Cost of Football Glory“.  He begins with discussing his initial thoughts after reading a 36 year-old article by Clark Booth.  If you would like to read it as well here is Clark Booth at the Super Bowl: Death & Football.

But no one had ever written an article like that before Clark Booth went to Miami. I remember being thunderstruck reading it. D.D. Lewis of the Dallas Cowboys talked about having nightmares and his fear of breaking his neck. Lee Roy Jordan, a veteran Cowboys linebacker, was asked by Booth why he kept playing with a sciatic nerve condition.

“By the time I’m 55, I feel they’ll have learned enough to medically treat me,” he said. “If they can’t, I can accept that.”

Booth asked sportswriters and ex-players about the worst injury they had ever seen. Continue reading

League of Fans Open Letter

7 Feb

Recently I have been introduced to “League of Fans”, a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to encourage social & civic responsibility in sports industry & culture.  Although the name sounds  non-germane on the surface if you dig deeper into their core principles you will see they are starting to delve into the concussion issue.

One of their first salvos is an open letter to Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League – oft criticized by me and the blog as well.  Below is the letter signed by Ralph Nader and Ken Reed (reproduced with permission of League of Fans);

An Open Letter to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: 

It’s Time To Ban Fighting

  Continue reading

Excellent Opinion: Dan Bernstein

6 Feb

If you live in Illinois/Chicago area and are a sports nut there may be a very good chance you have or constantly tune into 670 The Score.  One of the more outspoken show hosts, also extremely well-rounded, is Dan Bernstein who provided a good column about concussions and the NFL;

Then, as is usually the case, the coverage focused only on the most severe impacts and extreme cases, ignoring the less spectacular times and places where the real damage is being done.

And once again, the real conversation never happens.

Colt McCoy getting blasted into next week by James Harrison makes for exciting video. The ensuing soap-opera aftermath drove discussion, as does the story of the Chargers’ Kris Dielman taking a shot to the head, going back into the game, and suffering a seizure on the flight home.

Bernstein uses his platform Continue reading

White Paper

3 Feb

Sometime today Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), headed by Dr. Robert Cantu and Chris Nowinski are going to release a “white paper” that will “plan to spread successful NFL policy changes to all youth sports,”  this according to Irvin Muchnick via his blog Concussion Inc.

What is a white paper?  Glad you asked it is important for context (via Wikipedia);

A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions, and may be a consultation as to the details of new legislation. The publishing of a white paper signifies a clear intention on the part of a government to pass new law. White Papers are a ” … tool of participatory democracy … not [an] unalterable policy commitment.[1] “White Papers have tried to perform the dual role of presenting firm government policies while at the same time inviting opinions upon them.”

It is mentioned that along with SLI, Boston University’s Center for the Study of Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy (headed by Dr. Ann McKee) will be in the white paper as well.

I will be interested to see what exactly they are Continue reading

Tuesday Quick Hits (UPDATED)

17 Jan

Bending the rules for a star is not uncommon, heck we see it almost every week in the NFL as players are initially reported to have “dirt in the eye”, or “back spasms”, etc.  However it is rare that you see an overt “relaxing” of rules to possibly allow them to play.  It has happened in the UK in Premiere League Soccer, the team is Arsenal Manchester United and the player is Rio Ferdinand (bold my emphasis);

Ferdinand claimed on Twitter that he ‘could not remember’ what happened during United’s 3-0 victory over Bolton at Old Trafford on Saturday.

He also admitted  he had suffered concussion, which under previous FA rules meant he would automatically miss the next 10 days.

But the FA have relaxed the guidelines and Ferdinand, 33, will now be put through a thorough medical examination.

Thanks to twitter both @SportsDocSkye and @SportsDoc_Chris find that the article as I have presented it and was reported in the link is inaccurate.  I appreciate them following and correcting this issue (also my stupidity when it comes to European Futbol).  The issue that needs correcting is that the current FA concussion guidelines follow the Zurich statement and a player will follow graduated return to play, meaning the 10 day issue is moot…

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I was reading an editorial in the Star Tribune about how the concussion laws could be a detriment to coaches and teams, when I came across some good Continue reading

Russ Bitely: NHL All-Concussed Team

29 Dec

From the inbox, an article;

Man oh man do I feel really bad for these guys — and for you and me too. Bad for them because they are the ones going through the trauma of the head injury and all the terrible symptoms that follow with the diagnosis of a concussion. It is one thing to lose the ability to stick handle a puck, take a check at center ice without feeling like your brains got scrambled, or even jump the boards for your next shift. That’s the game. It is totally a whole different story when you forget where your daughter’s school is, what date your wife’s birthday falls on, or even the desire to get out of bed in the morning — that’s life.

What else is awful about the concussion plague spreading around the hockey community? Well the fact that these players have devoted so much time, energy, and life into getting to the top professional league of the hockey world and in a moments flash the dream is or could be gone. How the hell would you feel if since age 4-5 you have been skating and where told no more. How the hell would you feel if you have been traveling all-around North America and beyond since the squirt/atom or pee wee days only to have your life-long dream in the NHL cut short. How the hell would you feel about all the sacrifice and commitment your family made over the years so you could do the thing you love, now perhaps just a distant memory.

That is how Russ Bitely, @russbites, started his article Continue reading

Florio Again Spot On

28 Dec

If you have followed for the past few months you will notice a big increase of posts on one journalists offerings: Mike Florio.  He has taken up the “professional” version of what we have been doing for the past 16 months here on The Concussion Blog.  Although Florio was not an initial proponent of the athletic trainer looking down from above, it seems that he has warmed to the idea.

What that move has done is begin the motion of putting independent neurologist on the sideline/stadium for the evaluation process.  Florio has outlined the basic premise as to why it makes the best sense, but in his most recent post he makes the strongest case yet; Continue reading

Is Hearing Them Cheer for You too Much to Concede to Concussion?

21 Dec

Conceding, rather the inability to concede is one of the traits high level athletes have in common.  The dive to succeed and be the best at all costs is what makes some better than others; it makes teams champions.  This quality is also what has put the concussion issue at the forefront.  Blinded by the ‘need’ to overcome and win/perform injuries are often an after thought; this cannot be the case with concussions.

As I was reading one of my favorite sites I came across an article put together by Sean Conboy.  The article was rerun from The Classical and below are some excerpts as to why hearing your name cheered on keeps the mind clouded;

Despite a stunning last-minute loss to Baltimore, Harrison was elated after the game. Things were different. There was an unfamiliar silence in his head, and his cranium did not ache like a mother****er. He was so comfortable, in fact, that, according to the release, “Mr. Harrison called Rob Vito, UNEQUAL’s CEO, to thank him for putting UNEQUAL CRT™ in his helmet, proclaiming it was the first time he did not experience post-game head pain or ringing in his ears.” In seven years.

James Harrison admitted to having symptoms after almost every game, which is not surprising given his propensity to lower and use his head a weapon.  Tell me again why he feels that he was “wronged” Continue reading

Political Football: Irv Muchnick

14 Oct

Irvin Muchnick is a writer and investigative journalist who previously mainly focused on the WWE.  Muchnick has changed gears a bit and started Concussion Inc, a website focusing on the head injury issue.

On Friday, on Beyond Chron, Irv Muchnick wrote about the appearance of a conflict of interest between the Centers for Disease Control and the National Football League, in regards to the upcoming panel and recommendations.  In the article Irv was right to point out that the federally funded CDC is taking outside monies for the first time;

A CDC spokeswoman admitted to me that the NFL’s $150,000 grant for “Heads Up” marked “the first time the CDC Foundation has received external funding to help support” this initiative, which has a decade-long history encompassing various outreach to health care professionals and patients, school professionals, sports coaches, parents, and kids and teens. (CDC’s own funding for this program has averaged around $200,000 a year.)

Which brings into question who will be in control of the recommendations?  Will the people shaping the foundation of concussion management, aimed at athletic trainers and doctors, actually have representatives in place?  I am not talking about the usual suspects that may hold a MD or ATC tag – the ones who do Yoeman’s work in the research field – rather some of the “boots on the ground” if you will.  Yes there are some Continue reading

Ken Dryden via Grantland

3 Oct

Ken Dryden was an amazing goalie in the NHL, and has been around long enough to see the transformation of the sport.  Hockey is a very exciting game to watch and really many are missing out on its action.  I continue to tell everyone that there is nothing like a NHL game in the stands, probably the best event one can go to (unless you score a Game 7 ticket in the playoffs).  The issue that Dryden is taking on is one that I have been clamoring for – for a long time – remove shots to the head.  Dryden wrote his article for Grantland and is calling on the NHL and NFL to start playing “head smart”;

This is a difficult time for the NHL, for its commissioner, Gary Bettman, and for hockey. It’s no less difficult for the NFL, for its commissioner, Roger Goodell, for the NCAA, and for football. Head injuries have become an overwhelming fact of life in sports. The immensity of the number, the prominence of the names, the life-altering impact on their lives, and, more disturbing, if that’s possible, the now sheer routineness of their occurrence. The Crosby hit didn’t seem like much. If it hadn’t been Crosby, the clip of the incident would never have made the highlight reel. And if so much can happen out of so little, where is all this going? Who else? How many more? How bad might this get? Careers and lives of players, we know now, have been shortened, diminished, snuffed out by head injuries. What once had seemed debatable, deniable, spin-able, now is not. What once had been ignored now is obvious. Not just contact or collision sports, hockey and football are dangerous sports.

Dryden does not suggest to Bettman, rather implores him to make necessary changes; Continue reading

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