Radio Interview

One of the champions of concussion awareness is Chris Nowinski of the Sports Legacy Institute.  Here is an interview with NPR and “Fresh Air” of WHYY.  The length is about 38 minutes, you will need some free time.

Chris Nowinski Interview

He highlights his career, book and gives good pub to athletic trainers.

Avalanche Player Set To Return

One of the multiple Colorado Avalanche players to suffer a concussion will be returning after nearly three months.  Kyle Cuminskey has been out since October 30, after being elbowed into the boards.  What was initially termed a mild concussion has led to a long road to recovery.  However, he is symptom-free and excited to be back.

Cumiskey, who will wear a new helmet with thicker padding, suffered the injury when he was elbowed into the boards against the Blue Jackets. He never lost consciousness but said he endured headaches “every day” for several weeks.

“Finally it cleared up and I started doing some exercises without symptoms, so I knew I was better,” he said.
“Concussions can be scary. You never know if you’re going to be back in a week or, in my case, over two months.”


Hot Off The Presses; NOCSAE

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment just sent out the following press release;

PHOENIX, ARIZONA, January 21, 2011 – The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) Winter Board Meeting begins today. During the two-day session, the organization will consider and approve potentially millions of dollars in research grants to advance the science of sports medicine and review work done by the special Multidisciplinary Concussion Task Force Conference. NOCSAE is an independent and nonprofit standard-setting body with the sole mission to enhance athletic safety through scientific research and the creation of performance standards for protective equipment.

“Protecting athletes is our life’s work and our mission,” said Mike Oliver, NOCSAE executive director. “As the only organization that brings together key areas of expertise to work together on behalf of athletes, we’ve invested millions of dollars and tapped the knowledge of foremost experts in sports medicine and science to develop and advance the safety of athletic equipment.”

Formed in 1969, NOCSAE is a leading force in the effort to improve athletic equipment and, as a result, reduce injuries. NOCSAE efforts include the development of performance and test standards for football helmets and facemasks, baseball and softball batters and catchers helmets, baseballs and softballs, ice hockey helmets, soccer shinguards, lacrosse helmets and facemasks and polo helmets.

NOCSAE is the leading nongovernmental source for research funding in all sports medicine and science related to concussion. Since 2000, NOCSAE has devoted more than $2.5 million toward research by the foremost experts in sports medicine and science to develop and advance athlete safety. Continue reading

Bowdoin College Article

The Bowdoin College Polar Bears have had their share of concussions just like the rest of the world.  Being located in Brunswick, Maine their story may not be as accessible to most.  That is why this blog exists to highlight the good things, ideas, thoughts and observations from all around.  The “Nation’s Oldest Continuously Published College Weekly”, The Bowdoin Orient ran a story about the College’s experiences with concussions.

The on-field evaluation is crucial to avoiding second concussions, but Darden was not diagnosed with a concussion at the time of her injury. Though she was enduring intense pain, Darden told the trainer that she was fine and did well enough on the evaluation to continue playing. She played for the majority of the remaining time.

“I thought I was fine. I didn’t feel dizzy…I just felt angry,” she said. Continue reading

NFL Concussion Report – Championship Week

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the list of players along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know.

As we highlighted the last week, with fewer games there are bound to be fewer concussions.  Last week we could only get the Tatupu listing, this week there were three confirmed concussions and one that is listed as a “shoulder”.  First the three we know about, John Carlson, Marcus Trufant, and Jason Taylor.  Both Carlson and Trufant were carted off after exhibiting the fencing response in Chicago, and Taylor was speculated upon after observations but was officially listed as a concussion on the OIR.  The other “shoulder” injury was that of John Kuhn, below is a video of that play (probably will be gone shortly).  It sure does not look to me that his shoulder was the chief complaint on that play.  Not only did he take a shot to the head but his helmet bounced off the ground at the end of the play as well.

The vieo was removed…  SHOCKING (sarcasm)

The postseason numbers that we have now sit at 5 (including Kuhn), from different positions and 20% of them were wearing older models, 100% of them were wearing Riddells.  The post season rate of .625 concussions/game is in line with the regular season numbers at this time.

The cumulative total for concussions that we could find from training camp to now is…  172

NFL Forces Toyota Commercial Edit

Via Deadspin and Reuters, the NFL forced Toyota to edit a car commercial which depicted a helmet-to-helmet hit.  Toyota is running an advertising campaign depicting how their technology can be put to good use in other fields.  This particular commercial explains how Toyota’s technology in studying head injuries of crash victims can be used by researchers to develop better football helmets.

The NFL told Toyota it could no longer air during games, but Toyota simply edited out that particular hit.  It’s at the 0:17 mark of the video:

So, I guess the moral of the story is to just pretend these things don’t happen.



Diving Deeper Into Purdue Study

Shankar Vedantum of waded deeper into the Purdue study that showed impairment of brain function in athletes that did not show outward signs of concussions, or as he termed it “shell-shock”.

In collisions, “G” is a unit equal to the force of gravity. A low-speed rear-end crash causes an impact of 10G to 30G. A high-flying soccer ball lands on your head with a force of around 20G. Then there’s the high-school football player who, according to a recent evaluation by Purdue researchers, received a blow to the head during a game that carried a force of 289G—nearly 300 times the force of gravity.The scary thing about the hit was not the size of the impact. It was that the young man had no visible symptoms of a concussion…

The Purdue research changes all that. Many brain injuries suffered by football players do not produce the “shell-shock” symptoms we associate with concussions. The damage caused by these hits is just as evident when you study players in brain scanners or give them tests that measure sophisticated aspects of brain functioning, but are not picked up by trainers on the sidelines.

Eric Neuman, the principal researcher from Purdue, explained that they first thought their equipment was failing and had to be wrong.  After that was clearly not the case, what they were disturbed by was the amount of injury sustained with no overt symptoms.

Of those that did not show signs/symptoms, perhaps they were expecting the blow and had some way of protecting themselves from unwanted effects.  Or as one faithful tweeter said “Concussions occur when UNEXPECTED forces are applied to the head. Same reason woodpeckers are okay hitting heads.”

There is way, way, WAY more information about head trauma that we DO NOT know, the Purdue study that happened to be an accidental find is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  The good news out of all of it was that the players studied with neurological changes returned back to normal in the off-season.  So there is hope.

Technology In NFL

An interesting report from circulated last week that states the NFL may allow impact sensors in helmets, pads and mouth guards next year.  The piece fails to mention that this is not a new technology, and has already been used in both practice and research at the college and high school levels.  The most widely available technology is from Simbex and is featured in a commercially available system marketed exclusively by Riddell (HITS).

Which brings me to my point – many would assume that professional sports have the best and most advanced equipment available, but that is not exactly the case when the company is not the official supplier/sponsor or may somehow, someway affect the collective bargaining agreement (see any NFL or NHL helmet discussion).  While players are generally allowed to wear any helmet they wish, the current technology of accelerometers in helmets is only capable in Riddell brand equipment.  As for the other sensors in the pads and mouth, those do not have “exclusive” rights, as of yet.  This fact could “muddy” the water in data collection and interpretation.

The Winter Wednesday’s

The football season is in its waning phases, however that does not mean the concussion risk is gone.  Yes, it will be reduced slightly, but awareness is continued and the importance of an athletic trainer is underscored more.  During the winter months we will spend time blogging about the life of an athletic trainer, what I do, and what we can do for schools.

This week’s entry comes on the heel of the Chicago ordinance about concussions.  As we highlighted earlier, the biggest city in Illinois has placed an ordinance for its schools to require removal from game any athlete suspected to have a concussion and once confirmed not be allowed to play until cleared by proper medical staff.

The school I work at has had this procedure in place for just about two years, with even more emphasis on education for parents, athletes, coaches, teachers and administrators.  It was a long road to get this going in a direction that is palatable and the bumps in the road are still present.  The point is that just “waving a magic wand” and creating an ordinance or law that will protect the student-athlete just does not exist.  It is an effort by everyone that has the patience and stomach for erasing a stigma that has been in place since the “dark ages”.

Allison W. Bullock of MedIll wrote about the worries of some players still playing, even with the ordinance in place.  The educational Continue reading

Saint Francis Medical Minute

This is a short video highlighting concussions and local athletic trainers.  Dr. Bowen is the team physician for the Southeast Missouri State University Redhawks, and works with the athletic trainers of the various college teams as well as high school athletes.

Dr. Bowen talks about the common phrase of “getting your bell rung,” and why that needs to go away.  People need to understand that concussions are serious.  Also, he mentions the ImPACT tests in use at the area high schools through Saint Francis Medical Center.

The Medical Minute is a series that Saint Francis Medical Center out of Cape Girardeau, MO produces for local television.


It Is A Shame

That an injury to hockey’s number on attraction and best player has people up in arms about the concussion issue.  This was an issue before New Year’s Day and will continue to be one for a long time, as long as the leagues that want to make a boat load of money look the other way.  I should rephrase that, they are not looking the other way, rather than taking a stance based upon solid information and evidence leagues like the NHL think that putting a band-aid on a lacerated wrist is going to give them enough time to figure something out.

Two editorials about Sidney Crosby and his injury have made poignant arguments for a call to action in the sport of hockey.  The Globe and Mail ran an editorial last week stating that the NHL did not penalize the players that hit Crosby, which according to them were blatant rule infractions.

Anyone who thinks this point is exaggerated is welcome to review the hit on the Internet ( It is painful to watch. Mr. Crosby struggled to stand, skated doubled over to the bench. Use of the NHL’s protocol should be automatic in such a case. A trainer is supposed to ask: What just happened? Who are we playing? What was the score of the last game? If the answers aren’t clear, the team doctor probes his concentration, memory, balance and co-ordination. Continue reading

NFL Concussion Rules From a Former Player

George Visger played for the San Francisco 49ers in 1980 and 1981, but what makes him unique is that he has some ideas for the concussion issue in the NFL.  Visger also has been diagnosed with brain trauma and he can directly link it to his playing days of football (as seen in this email exchange with Jim Olsen).

Back in July Visger published via the web his ideas for “concussion rules” and they are very interesting they included; Testing, Training, Equipment, Techniques and Rules for the issue at hand, here are some highlights;

  • Mandatory SPECT scans before career and after career.
  • Early return of players that get another concussion (not fully healed) after required training would be a fine.
    • Complicit owners would get hammered as well.
  • Hyperbaric chambers available for the injured within 4 hours.
  • Accelerometers in helmets (looks like the NFL has capitulated on that)
  • Changes to the techniques of football, including no more 3-point stance or going low to tackle, as well as penalties for running backs who lead with the head.
  • Reducing contact in preseason and in week practices.
  • Monetary, hefty ones at that, for trying to circumvent the rules.

It is an interesting look, and that this came out back in July makes it even more of  good read.  Take a second to see what Visger is thinking.  We don’t necessarily agree with all the proposals (mouth guards), but as is the case here we like to highlight open discussion.

NHL Concussion Report 1.17.11

Each week we scour the web to find concussions in the National Hockey League.  We will keep a running tally on that information as the season progresses.  However, it is not easy as the NHL has decided that listing injuries as “upper body” or “undisclosed” is a good indicator of actual injuries occurred.  Our list is believed to be as accurate as possible, even including injuries that have vague listings but through reports and video analysis should be classified as concussions.

We have made some changes to the listing of NHL concussions, instead of bringing you the same names on the list, players that are still suffering from the injury, we will now just list new additions.

Marco Scandella of the Minnesota Wild has been added to the list.

This now brings the total concussion listings to 49, and with the season “generally” half over projections are in the 80’s for concussion listings.

It Was An Interesting Weekend

From Crosby talking about his concussion, to seeing the Fencing Response in the Chicago/Seattle game, TWICE, and some players grabbing their head and acting like they were hurt; this weekend was a bevy of information on the concussion front.  One of the new things we are trying to stay on top of is state legislation on concussions and youth, and we have a new page keeping track.  If you see your state and it is incorrectly listed, send us an email/tweet with a link to your state bill.


John Carlson and Marcus Trufant of the Seattle Seahawks were carted off Solider Field yesterday after being strapped down to a spine board.  Both players looked unresponsive for an extended period of time.  For Trufant, this is his second concussion since Week 11, and both injuries occurred when he went low to make a tackle and took a knee to the head.  Carlson was airborne and landed on his head in a scary moment.  Both players will remain in a Chicago hospital overnight for observation, and all signs point to them being able to head home as soon as tomorrow.


Some suspicious head injuries that occurred this past weekend.  Continue reading

Concussion Talk Post

Nick Mercer of posted this today and asked that I share it.  You should head over there for further discussion.

This clip in which he gives an update on his condition is very good education not only for younger hockey players, but for anyone interested about the effect a concussion has on athletes (especially those as competitive and talented as Sidney Crosby) – it’s 9 minutes long, but he describes the way he feels, the seriousness of the injury and the general confusion surrounding concussions. To anyone who has had a concussion or another type of brain injury, his description makes sense, to most others, it doesn’t.

The NHL and Sidney Crosby have an excellent education opportunity right now. Younger athletes and contemporaries alike can see the importance with which the NHL is treating concussions.

Southern Impact Research Center & Broken Brain

David Halstead of the Southern Impact Research Center (SIRC) is expecting a phone call soon about the testing of helmets and his opinion on what is going on with this topic.  Halstead is a great source.  At his Center, he tests various products including football helmets, and being part of NOCSAE gives him the unique position of being an expert.  He is independent, so his information is valuable, and from this article it seems he will be firm but fair;

First, he would tell investigators that helmet manufacturers – for the most part – make excellent products that perform as they are designed, Halstead said. However, he also would tell investigators that the helmet companies don’t do an adequate job of telling athletes, coaches, parents and anyone else who straps on a helmet exactly what helmets can and cannot do, Halstead said.

“The world thinks if you put on a helmet your head should be protected from everything that should befall it. … But that’s not the case. Certain kinds of head injuries are not preventable,” Halstead said.

Although football helmets are extremely effective at reducing injury and have virtually eliminated skull fractures, it is impossible to provide 100 percent protection against concussions, given current helmet technology and what is known about how concussions occur, according to Halstead.

Roger Harris and has done a good job highlighting and explaining what we have been trying to allude to Continue reading

Justin Morneau and A High School Study

Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins, who was injured last July sliding into second base from Andy McDonald’s knee, is now in the process of ramping up his activity while recovering from the concussion.  It has been over six months and he has yet to do baseball activity, but his workouts have become strenuous with the goal of being 100% March 1st during exhibition play.



The University of Texas at Arlington have begun an official study into concussions and high school athletes.  UTA along with Pantego Christian Academy will be involved in the study that will measure balance and neurocognitive function at baseline and after an injury.

Colin Price, who plays multiple sports, said he suffered a concussion last year during a tackle.

“I didn’t respond to anybody,” Price said. “I didn’t know what was really happening. I didn’t remember where my bag was, I didn’t remember a lot of things. It was weird.”

This may be the only way to get it through the players and parents heads that this is a serious issue, and continual studies and constant education are needed.


Headshots And NHL

The National Hockey League took a swift and correct move back in October to remove blindside hits to the head from the game.  The move was made for player safety, and in particular to try to reduce concussions in the sport.  However we saw the NHL’s #1 star, Sidney Crosby, take a shot to the head in the Winter Classic that was obviously deemed legal (there was no penalty), and he is still suffering post concussion symptoms.  Now there is a call for the NHL to remove all shots to the head, a “no-brainer” in my mind;

It shouldn’t take having your best player knocked out of the game to get rid of headshots.Of course, there is no reason to believe having leading scorer Sidney Crosby, the NHL’s marquee guy, suffer a concussion will do anything to change the level of urgency the NHL should be feeling to penalize all contact to the head.

That’s where we are now. Just penalizing blindside headshots clearly isn’t enough. Just look at what has gone on this week.After researching a three-part series on concussions and their immediate and long-term effects, it has become clear the NHL should penalize all contact to the head, intentional, predatory or simply accidental.

Players have to be responsible for their sticks, right? An accidental high stick still gets you a penalty (most of the time, anyway). So why not shoulders, too?

Maybe if he knew he would get a penalty, David Steckel of the Washington Capitals might have tried harder to avoid hitting Crosby the way he did in the Winter Classic — the hit Pat Brisson, Crosby’s agent, now blames for the concussion which has kept Crosby out for the past four games, with no date set for his return.

Chris Stevenson of the Barrier Examiner wrote more, and is exactly right.  I do want to make some issues clear, however…

First, it is interesting that Crosby’s agent is now officially stating that the hit during the Winter Classic is the one that caused the issue (as we have been saying since it happened).  Not only is it a capitulation of the facts, Continue reading

Federal Trade Commission Will Look Into Helmets

The FTC responded to Sen. Tom Udall’s request to investigate claims made by helmet makers, specifically Riddell, stating they are misleading and dangerous.  The Associated Press obtained the letter from the FTC chairman explaining that they will begin the process to determine if Sen. Udall has a viable concern.

FTC spokeswoman Betsy Lordan said the commission could decide to launch an investigation, but wouldn’t confirm or deny one until it either closed the investigation without bringing charges, or announced it was bringing charges of deceptive advertising.

Stephen Ross, a former FTC lawyer who now directs the Penn State Institute for Sports Law, Policy and Research, said the commission has several options if it decides to pursue action against companies, including a cease-and-desist order.

In a statement, Udall said he was “pleased and encouraged that Chairman Leibowitz shares my serious concerns about misleading football helmet safety claims in advertising by sports equipment companies. This is a safety issue with the potential to impact every child that plays football.”



In related news, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) will be meeting in Phoenix January 21-22.  According to their press release they will be handling routine business of their Winter Board Meeting, plus hearing a report on the Multidisciplinary Concussion Task Force Conference.

Any media that would like to attend MUST pre-register at

Unfortunately as a dad and working athletic trainer I cannot make it, but I wish I could, I do believe that Alan Schwarz is planning on attending.

Colorado On The Move

It seems that the call for actual legislation is heating up around the country and I am EXTREMELY pleased to say that my home state of Colorado is now entering the fold.  9News has the story;

DENVER – Sen. Nancy Spence (R-Centennial) intended to name her plan to protect Colorado’s young athletes after Jake Snakenberg, a freshman football player at Grandview High School, who died in 2004 as a result of a concussion.

The fact Senate Bill 40, the “Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act,” coincidentally shares the same jersey number the 14-year-old wore on the field, gave her the chills.

“I’m proud to name this bill after Jake Snakenberg,” she said of her former constituent. “It’s prophetic the bill shares his number.”

The measure would require coaches in Colorado schools, private sports clubs and recreation centers to take annual training in how to identify concussions in young athletes ages 11 to 19. It also requires them to remove the young athletes from competition immediately if they exhibit concussion-like symptoms and only allow them to play again with written clearance from a medical professional. Coaches and schools could not be sued for concussions incurred while playing sports.

VIDEO via 9News of Denver.

That Was Quick

I am a relative noob when it comes to blogging/journalism “light”; being hopeful this blog had and will have an impact seemed naive at best, guess I have been deemed wrong again and again and again…


Remember my post about Chicago moving an ordinance along about concussions?  (It is just two below this one)  And how I pretty much screamed for the state legislature to get the move on, even inviting an email for any needed guidance… I didn’t get an email…  But I did get a phone call, again from a source wanting to remain unnamed (seems to be a pattern with this unnamed sources recently) letting me know that there is a push for this issue and that the Chicago ordinance caught EVERYONE “flat-footed”.  There will be something “soon” I was told.

Good, and thank you for visiting The Concussion Blog!


A fellow athletic trainer recently emailed us to tell me that he has been following since Post 1.  He figured we were going in the right direction and used it as a resource but figured, like myself, that it’s a blog and it has its limits.  He was wrong and so am I, as his medical director asked him about it and shared with him that the stuff we are putting out is good and very informational.


Dr. Broglio of the University of Illinois wanted to let everyone know he is very thankful for your participation in the research and that the audience of The Concussion Blog has been and will continue to be very, very helpful in further projects!


As an information “nerd” I like to see our website stats, not so much how many people are visiting but seeing who is linking this information, and would it shock you, as it did me, that; Sports Illustrated, Deadspin, ESPN, Uniwatch and loads of message boards (shout out to Illinois High School have linked us?  Just hope the later of those are not tearing us to shreds too much!


This leads me to a simple…  Thank You!  And keep all the information coming, everyone can participate in this experience…

NFL Concussion Report–Divisional Round (UPDATE)

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the list of players along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know.

With fewer games there is bound to be fewer concussions, however with more on the line there is a possibility of more instances due to more risk taking.  If we were to project our regular season findings into the playoffs we could have expected the following;

  • 2-3 concussions
  • 1 of those would have been either a wide receiver of defensive back
  • 1 of those would have been wearing a helmet no longer manufactured (unless specific request)

In actuality what happened this past weekend was Continue reading