I Am Away

While the cat is away the mice will play…  I am away for a couple of days to help with this:

This is the newest addition to the family.  In the meantime, you will be in the capable hands of Gonoude and Lutz.  Feel free to send us links and information to compile for next week.  In related news, I will be on CBC Toronto discussing hockey and concussions; I taped an interview this morning.

Disorientation Is A Symptom

In action on Tuesday night, a peculiar situation occurred where Toronto Maple Leaf Mikhail Grabovski took two hits to the head from Boston Bruin defender Zdeno Chara, the second of which resulted in some issues for Grabovski;

However both the player (Grabovski) and his general manager, Brain Burke are adamant that he did not suffer a concussion according to a Globe and Mail article.  From a PURELY observational position we noticed that he not only lost his ability to stay on skates after the second hit, his balance was disrupted enough for him to stumble getting to his skates and the bench.

Burke had this to say during a radio interview;

“And so the trainer said to him ‘Are you good to go?’ and he said yeah he got it in the jaw. He said he just got it in the jaw and was disoriented. No symptoms.”

Uhhhhhh….  Disorientation IS a symptom of brain function disruption, as well as loss of balance.  Just because he scored the game winning goal late in the 3rd does not excuse this oversight.

NBA Concussion Report #4 & Mike Miller: Not So Smart

Our periodical report for The Association.

These do not occur as often as football and hockey for a couple of reasons, one; fewer players equals less incidence and two; the reporting of injuries is up to beat writers, as I have yet to find an official league injury page.  I will be using the standard CBSsports.com and ESPN for compiling this information.

  • Sasha Vuajcic, Lakers – 10/14/10
  • Carlos Delfino, Bucks – 11/29/10
  • Taj Gibson, Bulls – 12/20/10
  • Corey Maggette – 12/20/10
  • Luc Richard Mbah a Moute – 1/1/11
  • Mike Miller – 2/11/11

That is all we have for now, if you get information about an NBA concussion, send it our way via email at theconcussionblog@comcast.net.


Yesterday prior to the Miami Heat playing in Indianapolis Heat guard Mike Miller made note of how he has continued Continue reading

Hockey’s Wandering Gaze

We would like to welcome our newest writer, coming over from concussiontalk.com and hailing from the North, eh!  The views from him coming from a person that follows non-traditional ‘American’ sports will be a huge asset.  Without further delay…

I guess I should start with a very brief intro.  In the summer of 2003 I was cycling, flew off my bike and hit a tree with my head.  My helmet did its job – or else I wouldn’t be here – nonetheless, I ended up in a coma for two weeks and had a severe traumatic brain injury.  I like to think that my experience allows me a unique perspective on what has become a central issue in sports – concussion and brain injury.

Sports have always been a big part of my life (not that I was star, but I was ok) and I’ve tried many.  That said, I am from – and still live – in Canada and have never played a game of hockey.  In fact, I think the last time I skated was probably 19 years ago.  Winter has never been my season (just as well, since my balance problems persisting from my brain injury certainly limit my participation in basically every winter sport).  However, I used to really like picking off friends with snowballs (I still like to, but my range is more restricted, so it’s easier for them to avoid a hit).

But I digress…

When Americans parody Canada’s obsession with hockey, they’re probably under-selling it.  Hockey means so much to Continue reading

Specific Academic Issues From Concussion

This is the next level of adolescent concussions, the classroom.  Thankfully at the school I work at we have created a policy to keep kids out of school and amend their schedules as needed, but others refuse to believe it trickles over into academia.

Even the CDC does not have specific recommendations about school, rather they defer that to the treating physician, which is perplexing because A LOT of MD’s/DO’s are behind the times to begin with.  Those medical professionals are looking to the CDC for what to do, it would be nice if the CDC and others presented guidelines.

It would be as simple as saying; “rest includes avoiding any physical or cognitive stress, for example; school, texting, computers, and video games.”

Rugby Making Changes For Concussions

The International Rugby Board (IRB) is set to make wholesale changes in the way injuries, in particular concussions, are handled at all levels of competition.  The results of the Rugby Football Union, Rugby Players’ Association and Premiership Rugby audit of injuries found that concussion/brain trauma was the fourth most common injury that removed a player from the match (3.9 per 1,000 game hours).

Now the IRB is ready to overhaul the system for inspecting a concussion and handling the injury itself;

“The IRB are at the final-draft stage on a new set of concussion guidelines that I expect would flag up the importance of players with symptoms of suspected concussion being removed from the field of play,” Kemp said. “Our management of players once they have come off is according to best practice.

“There are particular challenges around assessment in a game in which the potential for concussion is so high and players get dings the whole time. There are some challenges around making decisions in a short period of time on a pitch with a player who is often engaged in the next play. It will be the focus of a very robust initiative. I am very confident the position we will get to is entirely adequate.”

This will mark the first time the IRB and associated leagues/unions have specifically addressed this issue, highlighted by a scary incident where England wing Chris Ashton remained on the field after a big hit to the head, and an Irish Times article actually taking the rugby institution to task.

This is good for the sport, however changing how the sport currently deals with the injury, mandatory three-week lay off, will be a good start.  We will be looking forward to the specifics as new an unique views are always needed.

Brad Scioli On Concussions

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

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

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

Vonn Now Doing The Right Thing

We have been following Lindsey Vonn’s injury from the onset (2/4/11), through her saying all the right things (2/10/11) and now with her pulling out of the rest of the World Championships (via Yahoo! Sports);

No longer willing to risk further injury as she copes with the aftereffects of a mild concussion, the Olympic downhill champion has decided to withdraw from her remaining events at the world championships.

That Vonn was cleared to ski when still reporting such symptoms drew a wave of criticism. If a second impact occurs before someone completely gets over an initial concussion it can have life-altering effects.

Vonn had a head scan the day after her crash but was never banned from skiing by the U.S. team. She passed a series of concussion protocol exams multiple times each day during the championships.

That information did not slip one of the foremost writers on this injury, Alan Schwarz Continue reading

Wrestling Concussion Aftermath



Concussions in wrestling are a concern, they happen less often as other sports, but when they do there is a small window for the athletic trainer to determine if the injury warrants removal.  In the amateur sport of wrestling the head is both exposed and sustains frequent contact, why we don’t see more is amazing (there has to be a reason).  That is not the point of this post, rather an instance of a concussion and its uncertain aftermath.


Demond Davis, a high school wrestler in Georgia was continuing his exceptional career and closing out his home meets with a senior night match, when it happened;

The day of the wrestling match, Demond had been texting his mother to see if she was able to leave work early and make it to his match.

Davis is a single mom who works hard to support Demond and his 13-year-old brother. But that night, the seniors on the wrestling team were going to be recognized in a special half-time ceremony and Demond really wanted her to be there.

Her phone rang at 6 p.m., but this time it wasn’t Demond.

It was the frightened athletic trainer.

Demond had been hit hard. His opponent from McIntosh County Academy had reportedly grabbed his left hand and thrown Demond’s left shoulder hard into the mat. He was rattled by the illegal move, but after being checked by the athletic trainer, Demond went back in for the win.

He got into position, and for the second time Demond was thrown hard into the mat. But this time he took direct blows to his head and left shoulder.

Something was really wrong. An ambulance was called. Demond’s season was over.

His mother rushed to the school where all he could do was communicate Continue reading

Advocates for Injured Athletes

Beth and Tommy Mallon have a story to tell; it’s a story they hope will help protect youth athletes across the nation.  The mother-son duo has launched Advocates for Injured Athletes based out of San Diego, California.  Their goal: have a certified athletic trainer at every high school in America.

Tommy was a high school lacrosse player going for a ball when he and an opponent collided in a seemingly simple collision that would change lives permanently.  Luckily for Tommy, the certified athletic trainer present at the event would not allow Tommy to get up.  Riki Kirchhoff, ATC quickly and accurately assessed the situation and determined that Tommy had suffered a serious injury to his neck.

Here is a part of a post made on Tommy’s blog the day after the injury:

As many of you know already, Tommy broke his neck (in a lacrosse game yesterday) and is in the ICU where he is in the process being stabilized.  Tommy broke his neck at C-1, the very first vertebrae where the skull and the spine connect. We were very fortunate that Rikki (our trainer) was on hand at the game to prevent what most commonly happens in such injuries, spinal cord damage – our heart felt thanks to Rikki for her professionalism and smarts to do what was best for Tommy.  Continue reading

NHL Concussion Report 2.14.11 (UPDATED)

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.

It is Valentine’s Day, time to give some love to the NHL; the league is beginning the monumental effort of taking on the task of concussions in their sport.  Perhaps, this is because football is now in hibernation, or that their biggest star may be out for some time.  Regardless, the list has exploded this week, adding 7 more players (as of late last night, we will update as needed).

The NY Times reported the concussion totals from the NHL the past few seasons;

  • ’06-’07 = 72
  • ’07-’08 = 74
  • ’08-’09 = 73
  • ’09-’10 = 82

As you have read many of times on this blog Continue reading

Breaking The Silence In Hockey

Unwritten rules in sports have their place, more importantly, HAD their place.  Sure, some of the unspeakable yet respected rules govern sports in a way written rules can never do.  Most of these rules deal with punitive retaliation for a wrong doing, for example; hitting a batter after one of your players was hit, a sign that “you have his back”.  But within these archaic hidden rules are even more hidden rules, a society of secrets, things that those that never played the game “will not understand.”  To a point I happen to agree with the spirit of each of these ‘secret codes’, but at times every player and observer must understand that those sacred rules SHOULD be broken.

Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe reported on such ‘Code Breakers’ in hockey, revolving around the recently shut down Marc Savard.  The two players in his article have chosen to speak out…  AGAINST THEIR OWN…  Gasp! [/sarcasm]  While this is occurring the ‘old school’ is up in arms about such heinous actions;

Ference’s words touched off far more fireworks than the damage Paille inflicted on Sawada. Commentators Mike Milbury and Don Cherry, both former Boston coaches turned talkmasters, interpreted Ference’s words as a crime against hockey. They focused not on the words per se (every one of them true and right on point), but instead that Ference, as a member of the Black and Gold, broke the “code’’ by indicting one of his own.

“Unacceptable!’’ shouted Milbury from his bully pulpit.

“I don’t care if your teammate is an axe murderer,’’ bellowed Cherry, proclaiming the eternal need to abide by the game’s honor and keep such comments “in the dressing room.’’

All Andrew Ference said was that the hit that his teammate was punished for was unacceptable, Continue reading

Telander Is Right

Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun Times has written some good articles on the issue of concussions and head trauma, as it relates to sports.  In a recent article, post Super Bowl, he wrote about the undercurrent of head injuries in the NFL;

But if you can hack through the noise and pseudo-symbolism of our favorite billion-dollar, entertainment-driven sport, what you will hear, still softly drumming, is the danger of head trauma.

Yes, there has been a lot of talk of late about brain injury caused by sport. But the danger hasn’t vanished just because it has been labeled.

Pros are pros. And it could be argued that grown men have the right to risk their own health. As Steelers receiver Hines Ward, who had seven receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s big game, said, ‘‘It’s my body. I feel like if I want to go back out there, I should have the right.’’

He was talking about what a player should be allowed to do after suffering a concussion.

Hines’ logic is debatable, but it’s not the point here.

He went on further to discuss our leading cause here, the adolescent brain Continue reading

Editorial, Crosby, Morneau & Ice Meets Ice

Sean Meister of Fox Sports Inside Hockey took a stance against the concussion problem beginning to plague the NHL.  In his editorial he used the instances of Sidney Crosby and Marc Savard as examples of how the NHL might not be doing enough.  Meister contends that even though the “more is needed” group is valid in all conversations, sometimes they are more worrisome than valid, this instance in hockey and with concussions is no such case.

Concussions are more than statistics on games lost and player performance. They are more than media buzz, commentator talking points and a reason to attack the game of hockey. And, ultimately, concussions are more than just a reality of a physical sport.

Often lost in all the analysis of what causes concussions is the result and aftermath of them.

This is where we stand on the issue as well.  The injury is going to occur in sport and life, but how we, as players, coaches, medical professionals and parents (just to name some) handle them is the real issue.  However the prevention of the injury itself is also an issue that should be addressed, and it is.

Currently we have only limited data suggesting the long-term effects of concussive episodes, and although they are very powerful,  waiting for all long-term studies to finish may be too long.  This issue takes a multidimensional approach including prevention, research, trial (and error), new evaluation tools, and management.  Is it the best we can do, yes…  Because doing nothing and ignoring the issue and denying the fact that something is happening is ‘dirty pool’ to all that have and will sustain concussions.


Sidney Crosby is taking the recovery serious, Continue reading

Vonn Now Saying Right Things

As we discussed last Friday, Lindsey Vonn had suffered a concussion in a training run leading up to the Finals of the World Cup.  We were concerned with how her and her team were handling the issue, however the tune has changed, for the better.  Vonn is now saying what all professional athletes should be;

“The second I have a headache or focus problems, I’m going to stop,” Vonn said. “I want to be really careful from here on out. It’s a pretty bad sign that I had symptoms again after the super-G, which means that I’m not recovered yet, so I’m not going to take any chances.

“This is a dangerous downhill, and if I don’t feel like I can focus then I’m not going to do it.””The second I have a headache or focus problems, I’m going to stop,” Vonn said. “I want to be really careful from here on out. It’s a pretty bad sign that I had symptoms again after the super-G, which means that I’m not recovered yet, so I’m not going to take any chances.

“This is a dangerous downhill, and if I don’t feel like I can focus then I’m not going to do it.”

Another good sign is US Woman’s ski team doctor, William Sterret, is also saying all the right things and making her recovery very transparent for all to see;

“If there are positive symptoms – things like nausea or headache or feeling like you’re in a fog – any of those things, then you’re shut down for sure,” Sterett told The AP. “Once these symptoms become negative, then we go onto more cognitive testing – balance, memory, repetition – things that are easily defined and measured.

“Again, if you don’t pass that then you’re done again. Once you pass that, then we take a step backwards to the subjective test list and try to slowly increase the stress or exertion on an athlete.”

Hey HOCKEY, get a clue!!!


Helmet Rating Database

The public has “Consumer Reports” on everyday goods and cars, an open rating system for goods, so why not helmets for football?  That was until now as researchers at Virginia Tech have used years of data on hits and helmets to create a database accessible by the public on football helmets;

Stefan Duma and his research assistants unveiled Wednesday a formula derived from years of data collected on the head impacts of football players, including players at Tech. The formula will be used to find the number of concussions that one player may experience in one season using a specific helmet.

The result will be a first-of-its-kind online searchable database of every new helmet being sold. Currently about 25 different adult-size helmets are manufactured by six companies.

This is not as acknowledged by Duma a “perfect” system, however it is a beginning, and we agree that why not start now.  Perhaps there will be a owness on the manufacturers with a rating system to be even more vigilant in creating a better product.

The database is expected to be ready by May, Continue reading

The Smart Athlete

While doing the usual searches I came across a neat article on an obscure website.  Although the ranking of these individuals is purely subjective it is nice to see some “dues” being paid.

The title of the story is 10 Famous Athlete Who Are Also Incredibly Smart with the no. 1 spot going to Bill Brady (granted Myron Rolle has not achieved the stature of Brady I believe that Rolle may be the smartest ‘famous athlete’).  However that is not what dove me there, it was number five ranked Chris Nowinski;

Chris Nowinski: Wrestling is no longer the costume sport for maladjusted 13-year-old boys: the brief tenure of Chris Nowinski shows that even Harvard-educated guys can take a pounding. Nowinski was WWE’s first Harvard alum, having studied sociology at the Ivy League school. He suffered a number of concussions during his wrestling career, and he retired in 2003 before going on to write Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis, which examines the dangers of concussions in football and pro sports. He’s now an expert in the field and serves as president of the Sports Legacy Institute, which is devoted to athlete brain trauma.

Not too shabby for a “wrassler” who had is “bell rung” a few too many times.

A Columnist

After reading his latest column I was excited to share what a brilliant profession we are in and compose a well thought out and professional response.  Heck, me waiting 12 hours to let it sink in was a HUGE leap for a guy like me.

I was all geared up about showing the flaw in his example of an ambulance driver and to let the world know that he was egging us all on by BLATANTLY showing disrespect by not using the term athletic trainer, it was going to be great.  I had it written and was thinking of a great title………..  But you know what, he is in the minority, he is uneducated about the profession and even though many tried to educate him he continued with the drivel.

He is paid to give his opinion — right or wrong — however there is no need to link his page and give him and The Morning Call the satisfaction of more views.  I just hope he does not have the unfortunate circumstance of having a loved one treated by a physician who knows nothing about the assessment and treatment of concussions and is returned to play too soon, just blindly trusting them because of the MD behind their name.

That is all.

The Winter Wednesday’s

The football season is officially over, 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.

It is now postseason for sports here in Illinois the time is now for teams to be at their best as the winner moves on.  The state-series here in Illinois includes every high school participating in the sport.  First is the Regionals where 5-8 teams at 32 sites begin the march to a state title (speaking of basketball), if the team advances they move on to Sectionals at 8 sites where 4 teams vie for a birth into Super Sectionals where 2 teams face of for a Final Four birth.

This time of year is full of emotions like; excitement, happiness, and sadness.  As an athletic trainer the excitement usually wins out until your team gets eliminated (and for the very few elation if they win it all).  Part of our dealings with the school include post-season coverage including travel to away sites, this is where the excitement comes in.

Traveling to other schools that you usually have very little interaction with is exciting, a chance to reacquaint with other athletic training peers, or administrations you know allows us to network.  Continue reading

The Morning Call Responds

The Morning Call newspaper has responded to the editorial/opinion of columnist Paul Carpenter (our take here), by printing some responses the paper received after the publishing of the column.  Included in the article were responses from the bill sponsor, State Senator Pat Browne, President of PA Athletic Trainer’s Society, Gregory Jank, and three other athletic trainers.

You can read the article in full HERE.  This was a class move by The Morning Call and along with this Carpenter is set to respond tomorrow as well.

I would like to say thank you to all that took the time to respectfully and professionally respond to the Morning Call and Mr. Carpenter, as action has been taken and will be further examined in tomorrows column.

Omalu Study To Be Released In March

Irv Muchnick has been through a lot in digging up information about head trauma, steroids, and other issues related to what he terms “the cocktail of death” in pro wrestling.  However, the seemingly endless roadblocks has not stopped him from great fact-finding in an effort to make the issue of head injuries, in particular CTE transparent.

Muchnick has an exclusive find as posted today on his blog;

In his latest letter to me last year threatening to sue me for my reporting, World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt pointed out that Dr. Bennet Omalu’s study of dead wrestler Chris Benoit’s brain was not published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal until 2010, and then only in “an obscure nursing journal.” See “New Threats From WWE Lawyer Jerry McDevitt,” December 17, 2010, http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/new-threats-from-wwe-lawyer-jerry-mcdevitt/.

After wading through all difficulties he has found and praised Neurosurgery for their restructuring including changing editor-in-chief;

However, I understand that Oyesiku was named to replace Dr. Michael Apuzzo as editor of Neurosurgery with a mandate that included reversing the journal’s perception as a de facto NFL house organ for academic articles answering loaded questions, which in turn served the commercial interests of the league and its contract doctors and business partners. Apuzzo, a consultant for the New York Giants, had overseen the publication of a decade’s worth of controversial studies on aspects of brain trauma in sports – including the 2006 article on the Riddell helmet manufacturer’s new design, which was co-authored by the company’s chief engineer and by Pittsburgh Steelers team neurologist and imPACT software entrepreneur Dr. Joseph Maroon, and is now the focus of a Federal Trade Commission probe of Riddell’s allegedly misleading promotional claims.

Apparently Dr. Bennet Omalu’s third study of a professional football player (Mike Webster and Terry Long being the first two) about Andre Waters Continue reading

Player: NBA In Need of Protocol

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute of the Milwaukee Bucks suffered a concussion on New Years Day after bumping his head with a defender in a game against the Dallas Mavericks.  This was not his first concussive episode during his playing days; previously he had experienced this injury in college:

Three years ago, when he was at UCLA, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute sustained a concussion that kept him off the basketball court for eight days, until he completed a series of neurocognitive tests.

That’s why the Milwaukee Bucks forward was so surprised when all he needed to return this season in the NBA following a mild concussion was simply his word to the training staff. Continue reading