This is my first post since early June and I’ve got no excuse for being delinquent. I guess our unusually warm and sunny summer has made me listless. Nevertheless, I want to write and it’s about time I put excuses (however valid) aside and get back to writing something. It’s not like sports have disappeared this summer! The Olympics (and the media coverage) will undoubtedly come with stories that will encourage me to write. There I go, making an assumption. I shouldn’t do that. I know better.
When I started ConcussionTalk, my plan was for it to be a site where people can discuss their struggles with brain injury, exchange advice on how to deal with common problems or talk about brain injury in sports. (The discussion idea was thwarted by spammers and their ads for prescription drugs, without prescription. Nevertheless, Concussion Talk on Facebook and @concussiontalk on Twitter are there for discussion.) Two years later and the concussion and brain injury issue has become prominent in sports at all levels. Now we face the problem of media and commercial saturation. Brain injury had very little attention paid to it for years, then all of a sudden we begin looking for cures and remedies. Many good therapies have been developed and many good preventative measures have been advised. Even with all of the new information and new methods for treating brain injury, there are still old assumed truths upon which we base most discussion with regard to brain injury in sport.
As I’ve written many times, the problem isn’t a lack of body armour (pads and helmets have been refined countless times in the past few years), the problem is too much body armour! The argument for harder helmets and better padding is a catch-22. Players can take bigger hits thanks to helmets and pads, but they have to because helmets and pads mean that other players deliver bigger hits. Inadvertently, and several years ago, the Simpsons did a good job of articulating where we are now with regards to concussions in sports.
If the issue of brain injury in sports is going to be approached seriously, then all options have to be on the table. They’re not now. Stronger helmets and pads are taken as a given starting point for any discussion about a long-term change. Maybe that is part of a good long-term plan, but maybe not, I don’t know. However, no one knows the answer, so why should we assume we know where to start looking? This is how a long-term prevention plan ends and a way-to-deal-with-it begins. Unless we’re open about not knowing, brain injury risks becoming ‘part of the game’.
There’s a lot more to this. Respect between players, rule changes, player size, etc. The list goes on. This is by no means the only issue to be considered, nor is it necessarily the place to start, but it is one issue and one more possible place to start.