In the category of NOT shocking; Catastrophic Brain Injuries Rising in Football posted a story written by WFMY News 2 about the recent report from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (NCCSIR);

Monday, researchers at UNC Chapel Hill said catastrophic brain injuries associated with full-contact football appear to be rising, especially among high school students.

They call the increase alarming and said it indicates that more coaches and athletic trainers should change how they teach the fundamental skills of the game.

Until recently, the number of football-related brain injuries with permanent disability in high school had remained in the single digits since 1984.

However, in 2008 and 2009 10 injuries were recorded and in 2011 there were 13 injuries recorded. That’s according to the latest catastrophic football injury research annual report from the UNC-based National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research.

To me it is a double-edged resource; on one hand it is good the “good ol’ boys” of the research world (aka those most listened to) have presented this material.  On the other hand we have published information about this research BEFORE its release recently with the tremendous work of/by Matt Chaney.

The full report from the NCCSIR can be found here, it chronicles the catastrophic injuries from 1977 – 2011.

However with the recent and VERY accurate listings from Chaney there seems to be a difference, which Chaney so eloquently put it in an email to me;

The appropriate adjectives for UNC’s latest ‘football catastrophic injury’ concoction by Dr. Granny Mueller and Camp Cantu (when they respect truth, I’ll respect their names) are virtually infinite for negatives in the dictionary, including:
Cavalier. Deceptive. Inexplicable. Irresponsible. Inaccurate. Ignorant. Sophomoric. Silly. Sleazy.
Mueller-Cantu have now posted their ‘report’ for catastrophic survivors of football in year 2011, gathering a mere 44 cases. (Do these people even care about their propoganda’s effect on millions of parents and kids who trust their word?)
By the way, our esteemed researchers here cannot even list my name nor proper reference to my blog reviews in their so-called study. As if they haven’t seen my cases forwarded them from October until February. (Both replied to affirm they have.)
Below, for everyone’s reference once again, including the two co-author, ‘expert’ clowns whom I’m also forwarding, here is breakdown of my ‘catastrophic’ 2011 football survivors posted Feb. 12, including two adults severely injured by football contact on sidelines, for a total of 111 candidates for Mueller-Cantu to allegedly have ‘investigated,’ per Cantu’s email reply to me in receipt of these cases:

*8 survivors of cardiac arrest or condition.

*1 survivor of heart attack.

*17 survivors of brain bleeding requiring surgery, with about half of them still in recovery.

*2 survivors of vessel rupture and stroke requiring surgery, including 1 yet in recovery.

*4 survivors of brain bleeding requiring hospitalization without surgery, including at least 1 yet in recovery.

*1 survivor of brain seizure requiring surgery, caused by a congenital artery tangle known as AVM, with rehabilitation underway.

*2 survivors of head and/or neck injury causing nerve damage.

*1 survivor of skull fracture.

*5 additional survivors of severe or catastrophic head injury or condition.

*20 spinal cases requiring surgery, largely for stabilizing vertebral fractures, including at least 6 victims experiencing continuing paralysis for insult of the spinal-cord nerve bundle.

*49 spinal injuries of no paralysis that did not require surgery, with large majority of cases involving fracturing of vertebral column.

*1 survivor of staph infection in spinal column, no paralysis.

My complete cases file follows at bottom, including names, places, date order, other proper organizing always lacking in UNC texts.
The pertinent questions abound about Mueller-Cantu 2011 (how about their fatals report, still listing a 2010 death for 2011?), and trust I will thoroughly follow each in dissecting this ridiculous document in weeks upcoming.
In coming months, I will post every case omitted from Mueller-Cantu reports 2009-2011, survivors of injury to correlate strictly with their definition of ‘catastrophic injury’, quote ‘football injuries which resulted in brain or spinal cord injury or skull or spine fracture.’
Oh, yeah, and how about this annual claim by our ‘researchers,’ on p.12 in new post:

Football catastrophic injuries may never be totally eliminated, but continued research has resulted in rule changes, equipment standards, improved medical care both on and off the playing field, and changes in teaching the fundamental techniques of the game...these reports have been responsible for the reduction of football fatalities and catastrophic injuries”

For full reference of Chaney’s findings you can click on above link or CLICK HERE.

You are either going to need very considerate insurance companies or at the VERY least an athletic trainer to continue to play this sport in its current fashion in the near future.

15 thoughts on “In the category of NOT shocking; Catastrophic Brain Injuries Rising in Football

  1. A Concerned Mom April 18, 2012 / 11:37

    I believe each youth, middle school and high school program should be required to track and report all injuries. In the absence of such requirements, there’s no way to assure accurate information is reported. Without accurate information, we truly have no idea of the risks children and teenagers are being exposed to by participating in these programs.

    • Educator Mom April 18, 2012 / 11:55

      Until tracking and reporting is established and required, there will be no change. Our kids will continue to be sacrificed on the altar of sports with little regard to their long term health and well being. Every day I run into a parent, teacher, coach, or youth sports organizer who has no idea what the long term risks are to these kids who experience traumatic brain injuries. I certainly wish someone had educated me, my son, and his coach before my son’s injury. Not only will tracking and reporting establish a environment of education but an environment of accountability. Then maybe…just maybe, we will see change.

      • Matt Chaney April 18, 2012 / 12:26

        I hope, Moms, for some sort of decent injury tracking, consolidating and reporting of all medical injuries in high-risk American football, but information limitations are too great to overcome with 5 million participants, some 95 percent juvenile, spread across 50 states among tens of thousand programs. Valid epidemiology, among a host of needs for this environment, is impossible without dramatic downsizing and regulation, which is coming, one or another, if not snuffing of the sport for cost-prohibitive insurance premiums. For information limitations, or why injury is largely under-reported throughout football, see below as part of my post on ‘219 Football Casualties 2011’ that Dustin links above:

        This report makes no claim of epidemiological quality on American football beyond the apparently reliable scope of death numbers generating from news accounts every year, available particularly through electronic search.

        Among categories above, an untold large number of football injuries goes undisclosed every year, and Google cannot include all reports by local news media, which in turn only publicize a fraction of casualties and typically sidelined players of prominence, like varsity starters in a prep program. The majority of juvenile survivors below were standout players already making news in their local regions, prior injury.

        Medical databases, incidentally, are not yet capable for harvesting valid national roundup of catastrophic injuries in tackle football, a vast, high-risk population of about five million players spread among tens of thousand programs across 50 states.

        For further discussion on the problem of underreporting survivor cases, beginning with disclosure limitations, see recent reports on ChaneysBlog.

        The Jan. 4 post, “Football Researchers Mum on Faulty Injury Statistics,” features insight of epidemiologist Charles E. Yesalis, ScD, professor emeritus of health policy and administration at Penn State University.

        For example, the supposed authoritative reports of the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCCSIR), University of North Carolina, are instead proven invalid as epidemiological study, minimally for years 2009 and 2010, because of insurmountable limitations recently demonstrated in part by my extensive review.

      • A Concerned Mom April 18, 2012 / 12:50

        You’re right about the need to hold people accountable. Programs need to be evaluated on their injury rates, otherwise there’s no incentive to keep players safe.

        Perhaps the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research can recommend that all sports programs be required to track and report injuries to facilitate the collection of accurate data (and we need reporting on more than the currently defined “catastrophic” injuries, we need reports on all injuries, especially any head traumas resulting in cognitive impairment, strokes, etc.). It seems as though they should be a little embarassed by the reports’ shortcomings.

        Doesn’t this really seem like such an unacceptable situation? Why aren’t schools and youth sports programs jumping on this issue more aggressively?

  2. A Concerned Mom April 18, 2012 / 13:05

    Matt Chaney,

    You obviously have much more experience tracking this information than I do. But, from my perspective, most of these programs are associated with a school or municipality. These schools and municipalities are already required to maintain and track information. For instance, just about everything about my children – their school pictures, their grades, each and every homework assignment, their immunization records, their cafetaria account balance – is available on-line. How difficult would it be to require schools to maintain records on injuries sustained in youth sports programs that utilize their facilities? It actually seems as though it would be good for the school to keep track so they could investigate any program resulting in significant injuries before it gets out of hand. (Of course, they may not want to just to avoid liability – which is unfortunate.)

    As for injury recognition – I’m sure that will continue to be a problem at just about every youth program not supervised by an athletic trainer.


  3. Matt Chaney April 18, 2012 / 13:11

    Geez, Concerned Mom, long-short, tackle football in America IS unacceptable, beginning with quantitative data of casualty and costs backed by tremendous qualitative critique in literature and news. American football, terribly ill-equipped and especially for juveniles, is a blood sport of beloved spectacle that’s indefensible, untenable for democratic, LITIGIOUS society–at least the ‘public football’ brand. It’s always been so since the 1880s and explosion of ‘rugby rules’ football in complement with partner Golden Press (Oriard 1993, Telander 1989, Chaney 2009). But now we really get it about collision football, amid cash-scary 2012, the evidence affirming eyesight test of the game, exploding information on impacts and central-nervous-system traumas–and thanks in big part to Dr. Robert Cantu and his research colleagues such as Dr. McKee, Robert Stern and Chris Nowinski. Where people fall off truth is trying to rationalize possibility or outright claim an impact remedy for stated of bloated, cash-poor football as-is. Impossible.

  4. Matt Chaney April 18, 2012 / 13:13

    Just follow the money, which is far enough for common sense here: Who or what will fund your recommendations, Concerned Mom, at public schools and colleges, much less youth leagues, for American football as-is?

    • A Concerned Mom April 18, 2012 / 15:58

      I understand there are resource limitations, yet can’t help but wonder if there is any way to piggy back on top of existing record keeping systems. Just about every organization my kids have been involved with requires an accident report for significant injuries – from scouts to soccer – so many times this information is or should be captured – it’s the tracking and reporting part that becomes more of an issue and could be cost prohibitive (my son’s bantam program and school were provided with documentation of his injury). I am curious as to how the reporting on concussions is working so far in the two or so states that have required it (from funding issues to collecting and consolidating into reports, etc.). Perhaps such reporting isn’t feasible, but then again, perhaps no one should be claiming that rule changes have made football safer, because we aren’t collecting accurate injury information.

      It just seems as though we really know so little about the impact concussions are having on youth athletes (both short term and long term). Youth football seems to be a slightly different animal than other sports, because coaches who may have no idea what they’re doing can end up instructing kids to either participate in dangerous drills or spend too much time hitting their heads in contact drills, and we really don’t seem to know enough about what repetitive subconcussive hits do to young brains. Maybe it’s just time to tell parents that no one knows if all the repetitive hits are causing brain damage, maybe it’s time for parents to be told that perhaps their grade school aged son shouldn’t go from bantam football to wrestling club.

      • joe bloggs April 18, 2012 / 16:14

        Concerned Mom that largest database for injury tracking is Sportsware Injury Tracking. Widely used and a good product but I don’t know whether they have permission to release aggregate data. Nonetheless, it only covers a segment of all the sports programs in the US.

        Hopefully more laws like those in MA will pass demanding a complete accounting for injuries across all sports.

        Til now we have lived by the old maxim, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

  5. A Concerned Mom April 18, 2012 / 20:31

    On a positive note, concussion laws do seem to be helping with awareness. Wisconsin Public Television recently aired a teen connection discussion on concussion (a little dry, but good information, panel included two teens struggling with concussions, Erin with 6 or 7, and Marissa still recovering from her second 3 months ago – at approx. 30 minutes in the video covers Brock and his family discussing his 10 concussions – some mention about rarely seeing concussions at Pop Warner level towards the end).

    The stories of the student athletes in the video are why I think there might be some need to track concussive injuries. These injuries may not be catastrophic, yet some seem life altering to different degrees with the potential for long term consequences.

    • Don Brady, PhD, PsyD, NCSP, Licensed Psychologist April 19, 2012 / 07:55

      1– Perhaps it is semantics…but if the life of one youngster is adversely altered due to a sport-related brain injury…to me it IS HUMANLY and SPIRITUALLY CATASTROPHIC…for the injury becomes a needless waste of a developing youthful human brain.

      2– Sadly it is not surprising to hear mention of children sustaining multiple concusions…
      As many sport injuries are often “normalized and minimized”…and thus sanctioned and not critically questioned.

      Within this framework of ‘illogical thinking and acceptance’, concussions / brain injuries also easily become ‘normalized and minimized’ or even discounted as being ‘flukes’ of the game…

      Finally, it appears that the the inherent risks of sport participation, including sport-related brain injuries, are often minimized or not questioned by those who have idealized the value of sport participation…


      • A Concerned Mom April 19, 2012 / 10:32

        I agree, those injuries are catastrophic for the individual and family involved – they just don’t meet the narrow definition of “catastrophic” injury tracked by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research. There are limitations to the type of tracking and reporting that can be done, but I would hope we could at least try to capture more information about the number of youth athletes suffering from life altering tramatic brain injuries.

  6. A Concerned Mom April 19, 2012 / 12:14

    “”I was told by a teammate that a second girl hit me from the front which sent me to the floor on my back,” she said. “I hit the back of my head quite hard. I don’t remember this part.”

    With her head hurting, Chiolino got up and made the two free throws.

    “I barely remember taking those two shots,” she said.

    Chiolino stayed in the game for one more possession before realizing that something was really wrong.”

    Coaches and trainers can’t see everything that goes on during a game, but I don’t understand why she wasn’t checked after hitting the back of her head on the floor. Thankfully, she knew it was important to take herself out of the game.

  7. A Concerned Mom April 20, 2012 / 06:13

    “She said her son, who is small for his age, was out for recess on Feb. 8 and was helping a girl up off the ground when someone charged into him, sending him flying through the air.

    Jake landed hard, smashed the back of his head on the concrete and lost consciousness.”

    I’m linking this story as a warning about the type of rough play that can occur during recess. I wasn’t provided with clear guidance about whether or not my son should be allowed to go out to recess while recovering from his concussion. I ended up deciding against recess (last year’s NCCSIR report included a possible second impact death at recess). Schools have a limited number of personnel available to supervise recess, and there are kids out there with personal boundary and impluse control issues (kids are kids … you never really know what they’re going to do … they trip, they fall, they bump into things and other kids).

  8. A Concerned Mom April 22, 2012 / 06:37

    “At Anoka High School, Deitchler won his last 111 matches and three state championships with a style so aggressive and physical he had trouble finding practice partners.

    But that was also when Deitchler said he sustained a series of concussions, mainly in practice.”

    ““Even four years ago in high school, there wasn’t awareness, there wasn’t, ‘You need to be careful about this.’ We didn’t know. We pushed through it and wrestled through it. That’s when it kind of started happening.””

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