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 out there that take into consideration the dynamic of actually being in the pressure situation of sports, especially on the sideline: Steve Broglio, Kevin Guskiewicz and Margot Putukian (she is currently on the NFL Head Neck and Spine Committee) come to mind. However there are others that would provide another different view on concussions, especially the management: Bennett Omalu (pathophysiological side) Don Brady (from the school side) and myself (as a practicing athletic trainer). Will the likes of those individuals – and others like them – who seem to be independent from the NFL, get the opportunity to help evolve what has become a difficult situation.
As Irv also wrote in his article;
But the real question is: How many more kids have to die or become disabled by the ill-advised activity of tackle football while the CDC studies the issue up the wazoo with “experts” either hand-picked or influenced by the NFL?
Point of clarification from a commenter;
I think it’s important to note that the CDC Foundation is independent of the CDC. The function of the CDC is to connect “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with private-sector organizations and individuals to build public health programs that make our world healthier and safer. ” http://www.cdcfoundation.org/who/story The NFL agreement would be a perfect example of this. The NFL is supporting the Head Up program and there is no reason to believe as of now that they are influencing CDC recommendations.
I DO NOT claim to have all the answers, in fact the more I get into concussions the more questions are raised in my mind. What I do know and have experienced is the processes by which we have gotten to this point. I see the kids every day, I use the tools that are coming out, I talk to parents, I educate coaches, I promote the CDC information to uniformed physicians, I practice what is preached, and guess what… Some of it works and some of it does not. The most effective way I have found to get the proper and safe results stems from EDUCATION and not just one meeting, but many-many-many talks and informational flyers.
What I am gravely fearful of is that all the information I give, and all the mechanisms I invoke to protect the athlete will be missed by one person and we will have to all learn from the worst kind of experience, from the unfortunate death of an athlete. In order for this not to happen on my watch, and hopefully on no one elses, I will continue to scream from the highest point I can find;
THE INJURY OF CONCUSSION IS GOING TO CONTINUE TO OCCUR, WE MUST PROPERLY MANAGE AND TREAT THE INJURY IN ORDER TO PROTECT THE LIVES AND LIVELIHOOD OF THESE INDIVIDUALS. EVEN IF IT MEANS TAKING SITUATIONS (removal from play for extended periods of time/adjustments to youth sports) AWAY THAT WILL HARM UNIFORMED ADOLESCENTS.