There has been a lot of press about concussions the past weekend, mainly due to the NFL draft, however much information is out there (thanks to Concerned Mom for highlighting some in the comment section). Here is a quick rundown with links that I find interesting.
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk makes some great points about NFL litigation and actual player concern;
Supporting that contention will be the fact that no NFL player has retired due to fear of potential harm from concussions. Yes, some have retired due to the immediate consequences of multiple concussions. But no NFL player, current or prospective, has passed on playing football at its highest level due merely to the fear that the player may suffer one or more concussions that may cause problems for him later in life.[…]
That’s not to say that claims regarding the NFL’s failure to take meaningful steps before 2009 to protect players from concussions will lack merit. But as players who now know all they need to know about the risks associated with playing football continue to flock to the NFL, it will be harder and harder to get a judge or a jury to accept that players would have walked away from the sport if they had known then what all players know now.
Agreed on all fronts with Florio here, its tough to sell an argument when the opposite is actually happening. Professional football is completely different from “amateur” and youth sports. That being said it will become very easy for the NFL to deflect blame to younger occurrences of the injury. Regardless this is a mess; what has happened in the past can only help us going forward.
Keeping on the NFL front, CBSSports.com and Jim Trotter talked to Dr. Cantu about the concussions of college players and how it may impact them being drafted (as we highlighted with Chris Owusu – signed UFA contract with San Francisco);
At least Dr. Robert Cantu, the co-chair of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee, says that it “definitely could be something in the future” anyway. Cantu spoke with Jim Trotter for an article in the latest Sports Illustrated and conceded the possibility of instituting “preemptive measures to keep concussed players out of the NFL” (Trotter’s words) “definitely could be something in the future” (Cantu’s). The doctor also said, however, that “the concrete data isn’t there right now” to warrant doing such a thing. But it’s at least, apparently, something that’s being considered.[…]
The possibility of the league stepping in and preventing someone from attempting to play professional football because of health reasons would likely raise some legal issues, but the NFL’s already put an artificial age barrier in place for potential prospects, so doing the same for health reasons, based on the premise of increasing player safety and limiting liability, is certainly a possibility on the future.
Trotter really stirs the pot on this one, to see a player effectively prohibited from playing professional football even though he has the necessary skill set would in fact create a legal problem. Once again, fully consenting adults making a decision is relevant in this situation. If something like this were to happen you might see less and fewer players playing at a younger age; the only way to truly prevent concussions from occurring.
Another article in the category of NOT a surprise, the AP wrote about the increase of children going to the ER for concussions over the past ten years. As mentioned in the article, most of this increase can be associated with increased awareness. Thus we are just now finding out about “a true number of concussions”;
In fact, the percentage of kids hospitalized after ER treatment for concussions declined during the 10-year study. That suggests the increase reflects more people knowing about the potential dangers of concussions, said Dr. Jeffrey Colvin, the study’s lead author and a pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo.
The results echo other research, including a recent study showing a big increase in the number of child athletes getting hospital treatment for concussions. Experts think awareness, rather than a true increase in head injuries, is involved.
Again more evidence that the NHL hides its concussions was on display (although we had him counted here);
During a weekend interview with The Guardian, McQuaid, who only revealed to media Friday he has been suffering from a concussion since a charging major from Washington’s Jason Chimera last month, expressed disappointment at how the end of his season played out.
McQuaid said “the hardest part” was having to watch from the sidelines as his team battled the Caps.
Can concussions lead to criminal charges? In this case parents of a concussed hockey player were seeking such a thing;
When a rough hit leveled Duxbury High School player Tucker Hannon at a hockey game in January, his parents’ outrage was understandable. The rival player, who appeared to pump his fist after smashing into Hannon, wasn’t even penalized.
Hannon, though, suffered a concussion and missed five weeks of school, and on Friday his parents were in court seeking assault and battery charges against the opposing player, Alex Way. Plymouth County Clerk Magistrate Philip McCue decided there wasn’t enough evidence. It was a reasonable decision. But the case raises two separate issues: what’s allowed in high school hockey, and what’s punishable in court.
The fact that Way won’t face charges doesn’t mean that his actions were acceptable, and the Massachusetts Interscholatic Athletic Association should use this as an opportunity to discourage dangerous play. Certainly, the 18-year-old Hannon assumed a level of risk by stepping onto the ice, but there are limits to the risks that Massachusetts schools ought to allow their students to face. A hit of sufficient force to cause a concussion, a potentially severe brain injury, should be off-limits. If it’s not against the rules now, it needs to be.
Speaking of children going to the ER for concussion, I had missed it before, but Matt Chaney had included some follow-up information on the 5-year-old Pop Warner player who had ended up in a coma (things that stand out to me – “during a practice session” and the “freak accident” claim by the team official):
“Oct. 1: Drew Iida, 5, Hawaii, a player for the Kalani Falcons, of the “Tiny-Mite” division of Oahu Pop Warner football for ages 5, 6 and 7, suffered a catastrophic brain injury during a practice session. “They were doing these warm-up drills with very low contact,” said Sheri Iida, the boy’s mother. “No one saw him hit his head. He walked to the back of the line, stumbled and fell and had a seizure.” The incident was “a freak accident,” stated Jeannie Melemai, an official of the Kalani team. “In spite of the best intentions, careful planning and taking all the precautions, things don’t always go as planned.” Oahu doctor Josh Green said, “Five might be a little young. I’m concerned about it.” Brain bleeding was detected at hospital, Drew underwent surgery, and he was comatose for 20 days, Jim Mendoza reported. Additional surgeries followed and Drew turned 6, regaining little control on his left side because of “a lot of trauma to his brain,” Sheri Iida said. Drew was transported to Arizona for inpatient therapy at a children’s hospital, where he was “making progress a lot faster” by late January 2012, his mother said. Sources: KGMB-TV, KHON-TV, Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Jeannie Melemai.”
News coverage, including video, on Drew’s recovery.
“Doctors said a closed brain injury caused Drew Iida to collapse and convulse during his pop warner football practice in October.”
“‘ … the brain injury stole years off the six-year-old’s life. He has to relearn how to walk, talk, and use his hands.'”
I have a real concern with the “threat” of the NFL limiting players due to a history of concussions. This is going to be a huge step backwards with trying to get athletes to be honest with self reporting. We are just now making some progress with this. Most of these athletes think they are going to play in the NFL some day, and if they think being diagnosed with a concussion will prevent that, they will hide the symtpoms even more then they do no. We will also likely have to deal with even more push back from parents and possible legal threats. I am sure we will see some effects already.
I fear you’re correct. I imagine it could be an even greater problem if colleges/universities follow the NFL. Could you imagine the pressure on a high schooler who realizes his college scholarship may be on the line if he gets one more concussion?
I know from talking to other parents that not everyone thinks it’s necessary to bring their child/teen in to the doctor for a concussion. Some of the parents got concussions growing up, and they just stayed out for a week or until the headaches went away. Of course, there are other symptoms that would be harder for the parent to catch, such as lingering vestibular problems.
I hope we start seeing changes at the lower levels (youth/pee wee leagues/middle school/high school) sooner rather than later to help reduce the number of concussions. Schools and coaches always say they run good programs and take safety seriously, but in reality, I suspect many programs are very poorly run (due to resource limitations and lack of knowledge).
I agree with you Dr. Benford about the influence this would have on underreporting…
This article has a map showing the status of concussion legislation country wide (would be nice if we could also see which states cover club/youth leagues).
“Kentucky previously only required high school coaches to undergo training related to preventing and treating common injuries.”