Questions in Pittsburgh

The handling of concussions in professional sports have been the easy target of people like me in the past.  The hope was that with more stringent safeguards and protocols that this would not be an issue for much longer.  The NFL has been an easy “whipping boy” because of its high visibility and constant coverage; now 2012 has its first head scratcher.

In the same game that Austin Collie was removed and sustained a possible career threatening concussion a rookie running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers had a run in with a concussion, or so it seemed.  According to Ralph N. Paulk of TribLIVE, Rainey may have been allowed to play with injury, brain injury that is;

Chris Rainey repeatedly shook his head in an effort to clear the cobwebs after getting KO’d by Indianapolis cornerback Jerraud Powers in the first quarter of the Steelers’ 26-24 preseason victory Sunday night.

The rookie running back grudgingly relented to tests after being diagnosed with concussion symptoms by team medical personnel. After struggling to make it to the locker room, the fifth-round pick returned late in the second quarter.

The subjective description of how he went to the locker room added with the mechanism injury (see picture at link) would have been my first clue that the player in question was suffering.  Add into the description by the player and it becomes a “no-brainer’;

Still, Rainey said he took a heavy enough shot that he was momentarily unconscious.

“I woke up, and I’m still here,” said Rainey, who rushed six times for 20 yards and returned kickoffs. “I thought he dove at my head, and I thought there was a penalty.”[…]

“The hit was one of those ‘Welcome to the National Football League’ hits,” Rainey said. “I kept slipping on cuts, and I dropped a couple of passes. I didn’t like it. I’m taking all the opportunities I can, and sometimes you’ve got to deal with getting hit.”

As Paulk stated this situation is very similar to Colt McCoy last year – being allowed to return – and the Browns getting a tongue lashing from the Commissioner.

Listen, I am all for professional athletes taking the known information and making personal decisions about playing with an injury, concussions included.  BUT, when a player is concussed in a game is he really of sound mind to make such possible life altering decisions?  Does anyone have the clear mental capacity to make those decisions on brain injury when their brain is currently traumatically injured?

That is why there are protocols in place to take those decisions out of the hands of the player in the most competitive moments of their career.  In the case of Rainey was the return to the game even beneficial for him?  Doubt it.  He was less than effective upon return; which in the NFL means Not For Long.  Perhaps everyone can take a lesson from Rainey and sit out when hurt, especially when you hurt your brain.

5 thoughts on “Questions in Pittsburgh

  1. joe bloggs August 22, 2012 / 11:30

    Enough with Pittsburgh. Did “Impact” clear this young man in the locker room. What are concussive like symptoms? This has been going on in Pittsburgh for years and the NFL does nothing. Is the NFLPA going to stay mute? Smith and Goodell claim that health and safety come first. Don’t penalize the team; penalize the doctors.

    The Steelers doctors are Joe Maroon, MD, Mickey Collins, PhD and Mark Lovell, PhD (two of whom served and the failed and disgrace m-TBI committee and they provided the cooked research for the Riddell Revolution helmet). It is time for the Rooney’s to fire them all. UPMC should be fired as the sponsored medical provider (it pays for the privilege of providing care to the Steelers). Should Dick’s World of Sports be enriching these idiots by promoting the use of ImPact? What does Drew Brees have to say as he is flack for Dick’s? Is this the kind of example we should be setting for College to Pee Wee. Just make it look like we care about concussion. Disgusting.

    This is a case for the medical equivalent of a death penalty.

    • joe August 27, 2012 / 07:23

      You dont take ImPACT on the sidelines.. The sideline docs make those return to play decisions, not Collins and Lovell… If you dont know what you are talking about, dont opine about it….

  2. Jake Benford August 22, 2012 / 22:44

    I agree. I can only say “what were they thinking?” The providers had an obligation to remove the athlete from the decision. There is no justification for him returning to the game, and likely should not play in the next game. Hard to believe that while they are staring at a multimillion dollar lawsuit they are still making decisions that justify the lawsuit.

    • Thought the ‘new & improved concussion management rule’ was:

      if a concussion is suspected…remove the player and [thoroughly] evaluate….

      if a thorough and conflict-of- interest (COI) free evaluation is conducted, then logically NO athlete suspected of suffering a concussion should ever return to play , or EVEN be on the sidelines the remainder of the game / practice… as the possible cascade of adverse effects of the initial injury may not be obvious for several days…or more

      Simply stated:

      A concussion should not be viewed as a brief occurrence, but as both a short-term and potentially long-term process where primary and secondary brain injury occurs. The adverse and destructive consequences of a concussion may follow a continuum from subtle to grossly overt. Altered cell functioning and cell death along with subtle to more visible physical, cognitive, and emotional impairments reflect a potentially diverse range of lifelong negative consequences of concussion.

      Furthermore, a negative MRI or CAT scan finding does not mean an athlete did not sustain a concussion or have any brain injury. Neuroimaging techniques, neuropsychological testing, and computerized neurocognitive screenings are not always sensitive to detecting subtle brain injury. Thus, a false negative finding may be obtained due to the lack of sensitivity of the instrumentation employed.

      Given this above info…why is there ever a RUSH TO RETURN TO PLAY an athlete the same day the brain injury was sustained / suspected?

      Along the same line, I looked up the DEFINITION OF SUSPECT online and found the term defined as a:


      noun &


      After reviewing these three definitions…it seems that all 3 definitions could be applied to spotlight and reflect the presenting concerns re the so-called assessment, & apparent (mis)management of athletes who are suspected of suffering a concussion.

      Please also note various synonyms…

      These 3 definitions and related synonyms of the term “SUSPECT” follow:

      Verb: Have an idea or impression of the existence, presence, or truth of (something) without certain proof.

      Noun: A person thought to be guilty of a crime or offense:

      Seems certain professionals with self-serving interests who are ‘evaluating’ an athlete may fit this definition

      Adjective: Not to be relied on or trusted; possibly dangerous or false:

      Again..seems to be a descriptor of individuals who have displayed conflicts-of- interests (COIs) within the assessment & management of concussions process.


      verb. doubt – mistrust – misdoubt – distrust – question

      adjective. suspicious – doubtful – fishy – questionable – dubious

  3. Dustin Fink August 23, 2012 / 07:04

    Joe, Jake, and Don… Money responses…

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