Playing With Fire

We have discussed how playing with a brain injury can be dangerous; more immediately dangerous for the younger athlete.  However, continually disturbing the brain while it is recovering only prolongs the issue and is a detriment to long-term brain health.  This is the part of sports that gives credence to the awareness and education initiative.

Apparently the NFL, specifically the Pittsburgh Steelers, does not fully grasp everything involved with and around concussions.  I would think that of all the teams that should be well versed in the history of concussions and health risks it would be the former employer of Mike Webster.  Along with Webster, the Steelers have been on the cutting edge of research, perhaps not the team – rather those that are associated with them: UPMC (developers of ImPACT) and Dr. Maroon (prominent author and “trend setter” for NFL concussions prior to 2008).  The once proud franchise in the sports medicine realm has increasingly shown poor management of concussions; using such terms as “concussion-like symptoms” to avoid players having to leave the field of play (see Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu).

The most recent case of Polamalu is yet another example of what we are dealing with, the stigma of concussions.  After another head injury this past Sunday (could be as many as his seventh), Polamalu is going to play this week;

Troy Polamalu is fine and will play vs. Bengals. He was clear and lucid by halftime but kept out because of league rules.

WHAT ARE WE DOING OUT HERE?  Yes I am a bit frustrated.  What message are we sending the youth and their parents about concussions?  I fully grasp the fact that they are professional athletes, adults and can make informed consent decisions about knowingly creating brain damage.  The layman, kids and their over-competitive parents DO NOT!!!

The mixed messages are one of the primary reasons the stigma of concussions continue.  It is not going to ruin the sporting world to sit out a few games.  Someone, anyone tell me how this is a good thing.  And while you are at it get me a meeting with the NFL; you want to whip this issue, put it on be back burner and get people off your ass, I believe I can help.

5 thoughts on “Playing With Fire

  1. James E. Ellis November 29, 2011 / 08:35

    totally agree with you Dustin as an avocate for concussion awareness, education, safety and a born and raised steeler fan, get the meeting with the nfl and my group will join you.

  2. brokenbrilliant November 29, 2011 / 09:09

    Yeah, I’ve heard “concussion-like symptoms” being bandied about, particularly in relation to Sid Crosby and his return to play. Bizarre. It adds an air of unreality to the statement — similar to concussion, but not exactly it. Sorta kinda like a brain injury, but not quite…

  3. Joe Bloggs November 29, 2011 / 11:38

    Joe Maroon, Mark Lovell, and Mickey Collins have been in the forefront on concussion disinformation since 1994. Why Collins and Lovell are named in a lawsuit. Nothing changes as long as they are paid to keep people on the field. But this does not simply stop at providing horrendous examples for care to parents and children such a Polomolu and Crosby (the biggest franchise player since Gretzky sidelined because of incompetance) but by telling schools ImPact can be used without baselines and you can base results on comparison to letter grades.

    Enough is enough, these clowns have gotten away with this for more than a decade and thus far promoted as experts. Nonsense, they are misinforming and misleading the public and should held to account. UPMC should be ashamed.

  4. Dustin Fink November 29, 2011 / 15:58

    Apparently some think I “don’t trust” the medical staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers… Well, whomever is making the decision to apparently hide or cover up the injury, that is who I have a problem with/don’t trust.

    I have described why I feel this way on many posts. But this is just ANOTHER example of high profile athlete/sport doing what they can to avoid the “C” word.

    If anyone of the Steelers players broke their leg would they call it “fracture-like symptoms” and then play the following week?

  5. Dr. Jon Cohen November 30, 2011 / 21:16

    Where is the “independent neurologist’ assigned to every team as mandated by league rules implemented this past season for the very reason to take team medical staffs out of the equation?

    It seems that we have taken a step back not forward in managing concussions, or should I say “concussion-like symptoms”.

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