Subject: PSA release: NFL Players and Coaches stand together to cure ALSHi everyone…I hope this email finds you well…Just wanted to let you know that beginning today, we at Team Gleason are rolling out a new ALS awareness campaign to be introduced this week in New Orleans for the Super Bowl.Here’s a link to the video, which takes viewers directly to the Team Gleason website:
Month: January 2013
Brain injuries and pro contact sports: Bubble times
As much as I can, I read about and watch professional contact sports. I also read, and have read, a lot about the financial crisis; more specifically, what led to it. Naturally, since I was brain injured in 2003, I have become very interested in brain injury. Hence this blog. I have also taken a bigger picture view of almost everything and, influenced by many books I’ve read, notably Collapse by Jared Diamond, I’ve been noticing similarities between different situations and events in society. Not connections or links. Similarities in our perception. They make sense to me – that’s why I thought of them. They’re not perfect or identical, they’re similar, the theme is the same. I see the same prevailing theme in the lead up to the financial crisis as we have seen in the current concussion/brain injury issue in professional contact sports.
For the purposes of this post, I’ve picked two themes that I think run through both situations; “arrogance” and “wishful thinking”. It was arrogance on the part of banks who thought they could make the market do what they want, creating financial instruments (and fitting mortgages into these securitized instruments) that would generate big short-term profits, ignoring the long-term consequences. The bankers had to sell/lend these instruments/mortgages to someone. Whether the buyers/borrowers were deceived or not is not what this post is about. The buyers/borrowers of these financial instruments ended up losing a lot.
The banks are like the teams, Continue reading
So at 3:15pm EST the NFLPA will hold a news conference to discuss some “goings on”; the biggest nugget in this presser will be the announcement of a 100 million grant for Harvard over 10 years to study them. All aspects of player health is the word I seem to be getting. Which is good, because for a long time the former player has been neglected and has led to current and future players taking risks their bodies will not be able to cash in down the road. I believe you can catch it live on YouTube as well, perhaps someone can provide the link in the comments…
In other NFLPA news, Deadspin and Barry Petchesky wrote about how players are overwhelmingly disenfranchised with the medical care they receive as a big-bad NFL player;
An NFLPA study, the results of which were obtained by the Washington Post, finds that the vast majority of players have serious doubts about the care they’re provided.
The NFLPA asked its players to gauge on a one to five scale how much they trust their team’s medical staff. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said five, meaning they’re not satisfied at all. An additional 15 percent said four, and just three percent responded to the question with a one or a two.
“The most troubling aspect of the survey for me is that lack of belief that the doctors are treating them for their players own health, safety and wellness reasons,” DeMaurice Smith said.
Perhaps this is why the NFL is entrusting the elite Harvard to study such things and happenings to players over a long-term time frame. Petchesky also takes part of the article to touch on the conflict of interest (COI) that is VERY rampant on the NFL sidelines concerning medical care. If you have followed and read here long enough you will know it is something that we have been harping on for over two-year and one of our illustrious commentators, Don Brady, has written a dissertation that includes this problem.
Simple facts are that the team athletic trainers are paid by the team, not the players, and in a majority of NFL clubs the “team doctor” is actually paying for the privilege. In a business model, it would appear – in my humble opinion – that the teams are making sure their priorities are met when it comes to injuries. NOW HOLD ON… There are some very outstanding athletic trainers and doctors that roam the hallowed sidelines of the National Football League, and they are VERY VERY VERY good at what they do, but the appearance – TO THE ACTUAL PLAYERS – is that their medical care may not be in their best interest.
I am not throwing anyone under the bus here, I am merely Continue reading
Watch This: Enough Said
This is Ry Koopman, a 7th grader from Georgia…
The kids are now talking about it, the feeder system of all sports. If the kids are talking the parents are talking. Awareness is setting in!
Quick Hits on a Cold Thursday
American Medical Society of Sports Medicine Position Statement…
I had seen this but caught it again in a below article, the AMSSM released its position statement on concussions recently. Most of those involved in writing this were in Zurich last November and this comes out about two months before the consensus statement is released in the British Journal of Medicine. (pssssst – it is also going to have a release in Australia, in conjunction with the AFL Concussion Conference and first round of games and I am still looking for a sponsor)
I found one piece of this position statement very encouraging and made me smile for all the hard work others have done;
Return to Class
* Students will require cognitive rest and may require academic accommodations such as reduced workload and extended time for tests while recovering from concussion.
The rest of the statement is not really “Earth shattering” but there are interesting points in there;
* In sports with similar playing rules, the reported incidence of concussion is higher in females than males.
* Certain sports, positions, and individual playing styles have a greater risk of concussion.
* Youth athletes may have a more prolonged recovery and are more susceptible to a concussion accompanied by a catastrophic injury.
* Balance disturbance is a specific indicator of concussion but is not very sensitive. Balance testing on the sideline may be substantially different than baseline tests because of differences in shoe/cleat type or surface, use of ankle tape or braces, or the presence of other lower extremity injury.
* Most concussions can be managed appropriately without the use of neuropsychological testing.
* There is increasing concern that head impact exposure and recurrent concussions contribute to long-term neurological sequelae.
* Some studies have suggested an association between prior concussions and chronic cognitive dysfunction. Large-scale, epidemiological studies are needed to more clearly define risk factors and causation of any long-term neurological impairment.
* Primary prevention of some injuries may be possible with modification and enforcement of the rules and fair play.
* Helmets, both hard (football, lacrosse, and hockey), and soft (soccer, rugby), are best suited to prevent impact injuries (fracture, bleeding, laceration, etc) but have not been shown to reduce the incidence and severity of concussions.
* There is no current evidence that mouth guards can reduce the severity of or prevent concussions.
X-Games, D on coverage…
Anyone catch the X-Games this past weekend? Action sports are on the rise and the X-Games Continue reading
Hey Student AT’s, looking for a job?
Well here is one open… Full-time high school athletic trainer at Mount Desert Island High School, in Maine. Here is the write-up about the position;
An anonymous donation of $20,000 for next year and $10,000 the year after that has helped persuade the Mount Desert Island High School board to approve the hiring of a full-time athletic trainer.
Athletic director Bunky Dow, who recommended the staff addition, said the starting salary would be $32,000.
The high school has been budgeting $12,000 a year to contract with Mount Desert Island Hospital to provide medical coverage for home games in football and several other sports. The high school pays $50 an hour for a physician or registered nurse to be on the sidelines and take care of injured players.
The athletic trainer’s responsibilities will include attending all home games and meets, all football practices and away games and, as the schedule permits, away games in other sports. The trainer will tape up athletes prior to games, provide immediate care for athletes injured during play, administer ImPACT (computerized brain injury assessment) tests to all athletes, follow up with injured athletes and determine when it is safe for them to return to competition.
The trainer also will be responsible for all medical and sports permission forms, for educating students and coaches about injury prevention and other health issues, and for making sure all relevant certifications such as first aid and CPR are up to date.
The school board voted unanimously Jan. 8 vote to approve the athletic trainer’s position.
This looks like a great opportunity for a really motivated athletic trainer to set up a program for a community that is ready and willing to help that person out. This is exactly a job that I would have taken right out of school, so many possibilities. In fact I would love to be a full-time AT at a high school one day.
Go and get’em kids!!!
CDC, NIOSH and Department of HHS Issue Statement
For many years the “government” has kept its collective mouth shut about happenings in sports. Occasionally they will make statements regarding the health of players in sports; case in point steroids and PED’s. The highest football league in the States and world has often had little resistance from “government” while doing business, until now.
The Department of Health and Human Services along with The Center for Disease Control and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have released an NFL Notification about brain and nervous system disorders. The NFL Notification can be found by clicking on the jump above. Here are the highlights;
- In general, brain and nervous system disorders were more than 3 times higher among players; 17 players died with Alzheimer’s, ALS, or Parkinson’s compared to 5 men in the U.S. (see graph).
- More speed position players died from these disorders compared to the non-speed position players.
- ALS was 4 times higher among players; 7 players died with ALS compared to fewer than 2 men in the U.S.
- Alzheimer’s was 4 times higher among players; 7 players died with Alzheimer’s compared to fewer than 2 men in the U.S.
- Parkinson’s was not increased among players compared to men in the U.S.
This is not “old” news rather, it is confirming what has already been known, but Continue reading
UCLA Tau PET Study
If you paid attention yesterday you saw that a very preliminary study was unveiled about identification of tau proteins in the brain. This is significant on two fronts
- up until now this has been non-existent with current imaging technology
- tau is the #1 culprit in chronic traumatic encephalopathy
If, in fact, this PET scan can find and map out the tau in living brains this would be a “watershed” moment in the treatment of CTE. This would be because we have not been able to treat CTE, the only way to find CTE is via a posthumous examination.
I believe this is very exciting, but remember like all things in life, caution is needed – the study was only five former NFL’ers and to fully confirm the information gathered the researchers could be waiting a long time, hopefully.
A quick side note here, Dr. Bennett Omalu is a co-author on this study, which isn’t ironic as some have suggested, rather a product of his good work in this area. For those in the “know” surrounding research in concussions and CTE finds this part of the story – Omalu – “interesting”.
What a great start, and I am willing to be scanned if anyone wants to pass that along! I would even write a blog about my experiences with it.
The Concussion Blog, has for years, presented you with the basics of concussions and other issues surrounding this particular brain injury. Most of it was factual information/research that I opined about. Others were original information that was seen here first. Regardless our aim – and continues to be – is to keep everyone aware and educated about this topic.
I was passed along a great article on concussions, it was beyond the “basics” but not so in-depth that you get lost in the mumbojumbo;
In other words, concussions are not caused by a brain doing back flips within the skull. In fact, miniscule amounts of movement might be to blame.
The article was written in response to the Stevan Ridley “Fencing Response” producing injury this past weekend and Dave Siebert colored this situation perfectly; Continue reading
Matt Chaney – Tireless Worker
If you have been around enough you have seen the stylings of Matt Chaney on this blog, he is someone I call a friend. In some circles that discounts me as a professional, which is both stupid and dumb. I don’t always agree with Matt, heck him and I have been known to battle via electronic and phone communications. However, his opinion is a valuable one – often his work is based in so much fact it makes your head spin as to why some of its missed. Regardless, Matt has published two recent articles on his blog, for all to consume, here are some excerpts.
Part 1, published January 7th;
Historic football excuses thrive in modern debate over brutality
Lawsuits, criticism explode and officials project blame onto individuals
Old talking points of football apology resonate yet as officials tout anti-concussion measures like trainers along sidelines, new rules for safer play, injury reduction and expert consultation—same type of promises heard from gridiron leaders during the Victorian Era
American football gets lambasted in public for maiming and killing, denounced by an influential movement of critics, and game officials pledge safer play based on their new concepts of prevention, including:
*Qualified trainers and doctors will patrol sidelines.
*State-of-art medical response will treat the rare severe casualties.
*Limits will govern length of practices.
*Injury tracking will cut rates already on decline.
*Coaches will properly train players.
*Every player will undergo medical prescreening.
*Experts will lead safety reform in rulemaking and research.
*Referees and coaches will enforce new rules of experts.
*Players will follow new rules of experts.
Sounds familiar, these steps, a practical recitation of talking points for contemporary “safer football” promoted by the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell, in face of lawsuit frenzy against the league and sport in general, along with festering disgust in the public.
Except the football rhetoric is 119 years old, from 1894, a packaged response during the game’s initial siege against formidable opposition seeking abolishment. Continue reading
Coach & AD Magazine Cover Story
In January’s edition of Coach and Athletic Director Editor-in-Chief, Michael Austin wrote the cover story on concussions; titled “What you’re missing when it comes to brain injuries”. A very well researched and written article on concussion issues at the high school level. Austin looked at the changing protocols, safety issues and legal concerns that will be facing the sports of our community schools now and in the future. Here are some excerpts;
This isn’t just a football problem. Media coverage focuses on the gridiron, but any time a player’s head is placed in harm’s way, a brain injury is a potential result. “From what I see, football leads the pack by far but we’re also seeing more girls and boys soccer players sustaining concussions,” says Dr. Michael C. Koester, MD, ATC, who is the director of the Slocum Sports Concussion Program within the Slocum Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Eugene, Ore. “Interestingly this year, and this could just be a statistical blip, but it’s worth noting we are seeing more girls volleyball players as well.”
That comment struck me as in the fall I saw more junior high school volleyball concussion (5) than high school football concussions (4), I have no idea what that means.
In the area of classification, Austin does a good job of trying to put ‘mild’ to rest with concussions;
Dr. Gerard Gioia, the director of the Pediatric Neuropsychology Program at Children’s National Medical Center and the director of the hospital’s Safe Concussion Outcome, Recovery & Education (SCORE) Program, says the medical community has “dropped the grading system” when it comes to concussions. He adds a common misnomer is the
suggestion you must have loss of consciousness to sustain a concussion, which is not true. “You can’t call a concussion
‘mild’ just because someone isn’t knocked out for 10 minutes. Most concussions do not involve a loss of consciousness,” Gioia says.
Regarding the state legislation and protocols;
“The No. 1 goal is to get the student-athlete back to school without symptoms or ramifications before even thinking about a return to the sport,” Fink says. For coaches anxious to have the player return to the field, Fink tells them every athlete Continue reading
An Act of Digression/Maybe I’ll write about this stuff
I’ve been on long hiatuses from writing before, but coming back from this one feels a bit strange. Lots of stuff happened, but I couldn’t decide how, or if I wanted to write about any of it. My decision not to write was probably based more on lethargy than I want to admit, but it was also based on my desire to take a break. A real break. A do-nothing break. I apologize in advance for the sequencing and general disorder of this post because I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to say. Right now, I’d place bets on ‘nothing’, but there’s a chance, however small, that I’ll pen (or type as the case may be) the most eloquent and poignant piece of literature in the English language. That would actually be a better bet, because the odds of that happening are astronomical, so betting even a penney would net you more money than you could spend in 5 lifetimes. But I digress…
Actually digressing seems to be the way this post is going to go. This country, or more to the point, TSN, is losing its mind about the return of the NHL. In September, the main story in Canadian sports was Continue reading
Claiming Ignorance No Longer Allowed for Parents says Doctor
Thanks to the good – and tireless – work of Matt Chaney I get sent plenty of emails about the happenings on the concussion front from a media perspective (stories and whatnot). A lot of them have vast information, but for a while I thought they were all reaches and looking to “grab the headline” to get readers. Sure, there have been plenty I have posted on here, but what is becoming concerning is the amount of pubs I get, not only from Chaney, but others that are starting to tell the story of major issues.
We all know and should have known that concussions were going to be a concern for all sports, but the tide is shifting against the most popular sport we have in ‘Merica. It is a fundamental problem we must wrap our collective heads around if we want to enjoy football and all sports for that matter.
One such article that caught my attention is centered around parents no longer having the ability to be naive about the sports we and our kids play. With all the information out there parents no longer have the ability to claim ignorance about concussions;
Dr. Joseph Ciacci loves football, but he fears it. He can’t get enough of the game he prevents his son from playing.
He is in the business of repairing brains. He has seen too much to maintain neutrality.
“The more you know about the issue, the more you think about the issue, the less inclined you are to take a chance,” the UCSD neurosurgeon said. “Because you can’t claim ignorance.”
It’s one thing, Ciacci says, to enter a mine field inadvertently, but quite another to do so when you recognize the risks. Ciacci has had an intimate understanding of those risks since 1977, when his own football career ended with a severe spine injury sustained while covering a high school kickoff.
Amid an avalanche of disturbing new data and harrowing case histories, Ciacci is trying to steer his older son toward water polo.
When you read the above article note how Tim Sullivan did excellent work by interviewing the family in 2011 and 2012 about the same subject. Although this story is from May, it gives good perspective about the thoughts many of us are dealing with.
Another Upcoming Concussion Symposium – January 25th
Time is short on this, I understand, but I just was dropped a note about this symposium being held in Chicago. Once again yours truly has “commitments”, this time it is a wrestling dual tournament – where my services are needed more. Regardless, when I looked at the faculty list and the speaking topics my interest was piqued. BIG NOTE here it is only $25 for athletic trainers to attend ($60 for physicians).
The lecture is going to be directed by Julian Bailes, MD and David Firm, MD, PhD, both unheralded leaders in the field of brain injury. What is more interesting than that is the fact that two relative “quiet” doctors will be presenting their information. Both of these men are “controversial”; one is seen as an extreme outsider by the NFL and the powers that be in their corner – Dr. Bennett Omalu the other has had his share of issues, mainly in the press (see Irv Muchnick), for previous perceived mishandling of concussions in the NFL and WWE – Dr. Joseph Maroon.
Unlike the symposium I posted about yesterday, there are no athletic trainers on the speaking panel, to me that is a shame as the athletic trainer is the front lines on concussions in sports (mainly HS up). Here are the topics, Continue reading
George Visger – A Story to Tell
You have seen him post in the comments and there have been many stories written on him and his plight, but it is nice to get those involved to write about themselves as much as possible. George Visger a former NFL player has taken the time to send along a couple of notes, it began with this email;
I played for the 81 Super Bowl champion SF 49ers. During the season I developed hydrocephalus (water on the brain) from concussions, and underwent emergency VP Shunt brain surgery. Four months after our Super Bowl XVI victory, my shunt failed, I had 2 more brain surgeries 10 hrs apart and was given last rites. Also given the hospital bills, and forced to sue for Work Comp. Completed my Biology degree during brain surgeries 4 thru 7, now on # 9. The long-term effects of concussive and sub concussive hits can be seen in what it’s done to my family in the following KVIE Channel 6 Sacramento link.KVIE Channel 6 Sidelined: Concussions In Sports 121912- http://vids.kvie.org/video/2318744182
My football and TBI career began in 1970 at age 11, playing for the West Stockton Bear Cubs Pee Wee Pop Warner team in Stockton, CA. Twenty nine kids on the team, and 3 of us went on to play for the undefeated, nationally ranked, 1975 A.A. Stagg high squad and sign NFL contracts in 1980 (me, Jack Cosgrove, Pat Bowe). We also had a kid on the squad by the name of Von Hayes, who went onto a multi-year MLB All Star career with the Cincinnati Reds.During my 3rd year of Pop Warner, I knocked myself unconscious in a worthless Bull – In – The – Ring drill and was hospitalized. This was the only “diagnosed” concussion I sustained, despite playing several games through college and pros where I have no memory of playing. Continue reading
Concussion Symposium March 2nd
I received the following press release about a Concussion Symposium coming up in March. The faculty is not your “usual suspects” rather some very good and known people in the medical field. If you get the chance to head down to Texas for that Saturday I believe you will not be wasting your time or resources. I would love to make it, however I have a prior commitment; that being said someone take good notes for me.
I would also like to add that having athletic trainers on the program list legitimizes this symposium in my mind. Here is the presser;
Austin, Texas (PRWEB) January 10, 2013
Concussion Compliance presents “Bridging the Gap on Best-Practices in Concussion Management.” This day-long exchange, sponsored by St. David’s HealthCare, brings together leading medical experts and practitioners to discuss the issues dominating today’s best-practice concussion management and how to incorporate the guidelines as well as the use of several tools into clinical practice.
The national symposium will be held March 2, 2013, at the Norris Conference Center, Austin. Registration is now open
“Communication and education that crosses traditional boundaries are key factors to providing good concussion treatment for our young athletes,” said Theodore Spinks, M.D., chair of the symposium program planning committee. He is a board certified neurosurgeon seeing patients in Austin, Round Rock, and Georgetown, Texas. Dr. Spinks currently serves on the CDC Expert Panel for Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. He also served on the Texas Medical Association Committee on Concussions in Athletes during the last session of the Texas Legislature.
The symposium program provides an overview of the current best practices and consensus statements on concussion management, the latest scientific research, an update on tools available to practitioners, and perspectives from experts in concussion management.
- Featured Topics – The Physician’s Perspective; An Athletic Trainer’s Perspective; Head to Head: Cognitive Testing; Beyond Cognition: Balance Testing; A Look Into the Future: Vision Testing; Neurosurgical Management of Head Injuries and Concussion; Implementation of Best Practices Into Clinical Practice
- Keynote Speaker – Dr. Steven Erickson will present on the latest best practices in concussion management. Dr. Erickson is the medical consultant for Major League Baseball caring for the umpires and serves on the Major League Baseball Medical Advisory Committee and the Major League Baseball Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee.
- Reading of Proclamation from Governor Perry’s Office – March Concussion Awareness Month in Texas
- Exhibit Hall – Featuring the newest in technology, practice services, practice information, and pharmaceuticals
In addition, Governor Perry has Continue reading
2012 Concussion Report – End of Regular Season
The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League. Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field. Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics. If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).
This season was not unlike many NFL seasons before; many story lines (Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson), surprises (Seattle), the youth of the league (Crazy good Rookies) and of course the injuries. The freshest being the knee injury of Robert Griffin III and his subsequent surgery. For the second straight year the concussion was the most talked about injury in the league and rightly so. As much as a league has said it is changing, currently it is not, could have actually copied and pasted pretty much the entire 2011 season wrap up and it would be suffice for 2012.
I like to look back at the suggestions I made at the end of 2011 and see if any of it was addressed, and I can say; kind of. I proposed six different ideas for the league to address and two were actually adhered to, while three of them were brushed upon and one was not even addressed.
The two proposals I feel the league addressed was limiting contact in practice and enforcing rules that are already on the books. Naturally, the later was controversial in almost every game; it seemed at some point there would be a receiver getting hammered and a flag flying for contact to the head. Of all the penalties I saw this past year only about 15% of them were incorrect (Vernon Davis hit is one that sticks out). That being said the officials are getting the vast majority correct, and I am here to tell you its not easy trying to adjudicate when athletes are literally flying around you.
The NFL basically played lip service to the proposals dealing with; an official concussion database, promotion of proper management and helmets. The last subject is more about removing the old style helmets from the league: Riddell VSR4, Schutt AiR Advantage and Adams helmets. I will say that there were way, way, way less of those on the field this year. The tricky thing about helmets is that a database on what is being worn does not exist either (odd [/sarcasm]), but from just watching it seemed many players had switched it up a bit to more recent technology. Probably the most farcical of these proposals touched on was the use of USA Football and NFL players to “promote safety” in commercials. Although it brought attention to how coaches have safety first in mind it did NOTHING to address concussion management and really how to properly handle this injury. Listen folks its not that hard and it wouldn’t cause a panic for the “football mom’s”, rather it may make them more secure knowing about proper management; add to that the NFL can plainly and overtly state that because they are professional ADULTS they may treat concussions differently, but the correct way is ‘X’.
The untouched proposal will once again be #1 on our proposal list for this year. How bout we move to the stats from the regular season, following the regular season numbers are the total numbers. Getting information in the postseason is worse than getting information from rivals during the Cold War. I am confident the NFL now has all that monitored, just make it public.
On to the stats through Week 17 (2011, 2010); Continue reading
Boston Globe Opinion: James Carroll
It certainly is not the first opinion piece that has graced the papers in recent year, nor will it be the last, but James Carroll’s opinion piece does take a reflective look at the sport and issue we now face;
Even as a high school kid, I knew that more honor was to be had in playing through an injury than in the few passes I actually ever caught.
As I learned when my parents later took me to the doctor, I had suffered a concussion. That was nothing to the embarrassment I felt when they made me tell Coach I’d be sitting out practice for a week. His sneer flooded me with shame. That simply, I’d been plunged into the macho heart of football — a gladiator ethos which has lately drawn scrutiny because, indeed, of brain concussions.
This attitude must change when it comes to playing with concussions. The entire game or mindset does not need to be completely rewritten, rather the view-point of one specific injury needs to be changed up. Can you imagine what Bo Shemblecher or Woody Hays would have thought about spreading 5 wide receivers out and only have the QB in the backfield in shotgun? Certainly they would have thought the game was coming to an end.
Naturally since the sport of football is so popular any type of tinkering or changing the game many people, especially those established in the sport, feel they are personally taking something away.
Listen, concussions are not good, in the short-term or long-term, and its and injury that will be part of football and of other sports too. Some changes are necessary to protect the player – Continue reading