Yesterday there were two important shows that aired. One on ESPN, the Outside the Lines presentation on helmets and the other was a documentary by CNN and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
CNN and Dr. Sanjay Gupta presented an hour-long look into the concussion issue, mainly at the high school level. Although the main press is with the professionals, the time spent at the high school was a HUGE KEY to making this documentary a success. Like we have been posting on this blog for the past 18+ months the real issue with concussions begin at or earlier than high school. This is not only because there are obviously more participants at the HS level, but it is also where kids are learning and learning how to learn. In short the high school level is where the brain is functioning the hardest.
The presentation was excellent, it not only provided the current (subjectivity) but exploding (CTE) issues in the concussion discussion, but exposed a real solution to the issue.
I thought the production team did an excellent job in finding/presenting as much of the overall story on concussions, from Dr. Kevin Guskewicz to Dr. Ann McKee to the local sports medicine MD’s. The biggest need in the concussion issue at the high school level was plainly exposed by Dr. Gupta: Athletic Trainers. Although the overriding theme of the show was about concussions I thought that if anyone was really watching last night that one of the first and most vital steps in the battle against concussion problems is hiring an athletic trainer. Honestly at this point in my career I wonder how schools can even allow the sport of football without one present.
If you missed it make every attempt to watch it again, I am sure you will be able to find it online at some point as well.
The other story yesterday was the Outside the Lines issue on both specific issues on Riddell and reconditioning of any helmet – both issues are a problem. The first being that marketing and cooked research can be used for any product to promote something it is not. What OTL was pointing out was that questioned studies were used to promote Riddell’s product, the kind of information that Senator Udall is looking to either regulate or get rid of.
Knowing what we know about the research and with all the discussion about the “who” behind this particular issue, it did escape me as to why there was not a more definite finger-pointing at the principal people who helped create the issue. I don’t think I will “pan” this show as Irv Muchnick has, but I will say they could have gone further, as could Sen. Udall.
The second part of the OTL issue was about reconditioning of football helmets and how it can be a shady business. Not only are there issues with how and what is specifically being done to each individual helmet – improper pads and even crack helmets returned for play with sicker on – but also about the testing of the helmet. Although NEARA is “throwing out” helmets after 10 years it should be known that helmets that are properly taken care of and maintained would last longer than 10 years. The OTL issue opens up the need to find better testing for helmets, even highlighting the Virgina Tech Study.
Overall I thought the 90 minutes in front of the TV was very enlightening and needed for not only the general public, but for anyone that has kids that can be exposed to concussion incidents.
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