Comprehensive Article From LA Weekly

Kids are the reason there is so much buzz about concussions.  The professional player understands the risk and is getting paid to take those risks, kids are not.  The other more important reason is that a younger brain can be more adversely affected by an insult/concussion.  Steve Jansen and Gus Garcia-Roberts wrote an extensive and comprehensive article titled: Concussions Take a Terrible Toll on America’s Young Athletes.

Across the country, people have awakened to the sometimes irreversible damage of concussions, especially in high-impact professional sports. With much of the attention focused on the National Football and National Hockey leagues, Village Voice Media conducted a nationwide investigation into the consequences of concussion on youth athletes.

The article finds that there are some inherent gaps in the former and current systems for concussion recognition and return to play.  A lot of the confusion is from the messages from the pro sports/athletes;

This lack of awareness could be seen in training rooms of every sport, and high-profile athletes such as boxer Muhammad Ali and All-Pro safety Dave Duerson returned to action prematurely. Years later, they essentially lost their minds. Until a few years ago, the NFL’s medical committee on concussions was publishing studies that concluded players were not suffering long-term damage from head trauma suffered in athletic competition.

Jansen and Garcia-Roberts look into cases where very serious complications, even death have been the end result of “undiagnosed” concussions.  For many years and even today there are athletes that shrug off all of the “headaches” and “confusion” as part of the game; doing this can have disastrous effects;

These types of injuries are exacerbated in young athletes because the human brain doesn’t metabolically or neurochemically mature until a person is in his or her early to mid 20s, according to David Hovda, professor and director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center. This includes the brain of Matt Blea, who nearly died on a California football field two years ago.

Lawsuits are coming and coming at a higher rate as kids are mismanaged by medical personnel and coaches, sometimes even parents.  One such case that is highlighted in the article is of a player cleared based on ImPACT results and a poor clinical decision by the medical staff;

But the test has hit real-world snags. The first is its price: At packages costing roughly $600 per school for the first year, ImPACT is too expensive for some districts. And many of those that do buy the program cannot afford to pay a specialist to administer it. Instead, that duty tends to fall on coaches or trainers, who often are unqualified to conduct the test. As shown in a case in the New York City suburbs, the results can be tragic.

In 2008, Ryne Dougherty, a 16-year-old high school linebacker in Essex County, N.J., sat out three weeks following a concussion. But after taking an ImPACT test, he was cleared to play. During his first game back, he suffered a brain hemorrhage; he died within a week.

Dougherty’s ImPACT results were ominously low, the family has claimed in a lawsuit against the school district. Additionally, according to the test results, Dougherty reported feeling “foggy” but still was cleared to play.

I highly suggest you read the article and get a summary of where we are headed in the future, and get a sense of what the authors found during their investigation and education.

4 thoughts on “Comprehensive Article From LA Weekly

  1. Doc August 22, 2011 / 22:52

    (excerpts from 2004 SRC research…that apparently apply in 2011)

    ‘Reitan and Wolfson (2000) expressed concern regarding the validity of many contemporary neurocognitive approaches utilized for evaluating concussions. They particularly expressed concern regarding the validity of many contemporary neurocognitive approaches utilized for evaluating concussions. They particularly noted that:
    Typical medical assessment methods (i.e., neurology exam, EEG, and brain imaging
    techniques) utilized in determining adverse effects of mild brain injury are rather gross and insensitive…and thus false conclusions may be derived which report no neurological deficits were sustained (p. 43).

    McCrory (2001) noted the possibility of erroneous judgments occurring when pathology is not detected; he stated that, “researchers supporting the absence of pathologic change have the dilemma that absence of proof of pathology is not proof of its absence” (p. 2288). This perspective was also reiterated and reaffirmed by Gronwall (1999) while pointing out the null hypothesis cannot be proven.
    In order to avoid false negative findings, continued efforts need to be sustained for developing more sensitive and precise neurocognitive evaluative instrumentation and medical techniques to assist with this process.’

    Furthermore, it seem reasonable that comprehensive neurological evaluations should be conducted on the suffering concussed athlete rather than neurocognitive screenings. “a brain is a terrible thing to waste”

  2. Doc August 22, 2011 / 22:59

    typo….change neurological to neuropsychological in the last sentence found above…

    Furthermore, it seems reasonable that comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations should be conducted on the suffering concussed athlete rather than neurocognitive screenings…as ‘a brain is a terrible thing to waste.’

  3. Billy October 18, 2011 / 10:54

    Dustin, I have been dealing with symptoms of CTE for most of my adult life. I first became aware of CTE after reading a short article in People magazine about the suicide dealth of Dave Duerson. Since then I have been reading all I can find about it. I like your website and have learned a lot. I’ve started a website hoping to support other guys dealing with similar issues as me. It’s a place to ask questions and compare notes. I wasn’t a pro athlete, nor do I have any money so getting help has been difficult. No one I know has ever heard of CTE. My parents think I’m a failure in life because I don’t try hard enough. Friends have faded away. Being alone with my thoughts about my future is very hard. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way. Billy

    My website is

    • Dustin Fink October 18, 2011 / 19:43


      Hang in there, it is a tough road but at least you are doing something about this and your issue! Keep in contact…

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