HockeyNow question and answer with Charles Tator (one of the best);
HN: What have we learned about concussions that maybe we didn’t know a decade or two or three ago?
CT: There are about 30 things that we didn’t know just 10 years ago. For example, the adolescent brain seems to be most susceptible to concussion and takes the longest to recover. It’s rather unfortunate because that age is when kids are now big enough and fast enough that they are getting concussions—it’s also the risk-taking age.
Also, women appear to concuss more easily than men; and that holds for sports like hockey and basketball. We’re not really sure why that is but that’s what the data is telling us.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about concussions. We still don’t know the exact mechanism—although, rotational acceleration is more important in producing concussions than linear acceleration. And also, we don’t know how to detect a concussion on imaging techniques; for example, there is no telltale sign on a CAT Scan. And the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is still not showing us the effects of concussion. We are hopeful that some newer sequences of MRI will be more informative.
A concussion is still a clinical diagnosis, meaning that it depends on a knowledgeable examiner, like a physician, as well as a compliant patient. And not all patients are compliant; there are still people who want to hide the symptoms and signs of a concussion.
HN: How important is recognition of a concussion?
CT: All you have to do is look at Sidney Crosby—the fact that he got his first concussion on a Monday and it wasn’t recognized; and then on the Wednesday, he got his second concussion and it took a year to recover. It’s important to sit out until you’ve fully recovered and follow the six-step process of gradually incorporating more physical activity, so that your brain is ready to take another hit. If you run around the block and get a headache and get dizzy, that means your brain is not ready for the next hit and then you’re subject to the serious consequences of another concussion because your brain has not recovered fully from the first one.
I have been a passionate NFL fan since that moment — though I switched my loyalties to the Philadelphia Eagles, my hometown team. My family has never understood my love affair with the league. They have balked as play dates, family events, even church services have been rearranged or skipped to fit my football calendar. I ended up spending much of my career in sports journalism, a dream job if ever there was one.
But after 30 years, my love and respect for the game is fading. And I’m seriously considering giving up football completely. I don’t want to, but I am left with little choice. I’ve come to this pass because of a recent airing of “League of Denial, The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” the PBS documentary that details the hidden story of the NFL and brain injuries.
Based on a book by journalists Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, the program examines the NFL’s attempt to cover up medical science that has linked Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, called CTE, to concussions in NFL players. Players with CTE have battled depression, memory loss, and in some cases dementia.
The NFL consistently has denied any connection. But many of the men who play the game feel differently.
Jeff Kessler, an attorney who helped bring free agency to the National Football League, is about to focus on the unpaid athletes who generate more than $16 billion in college sports television contracts.
New York-based Winston & Strawn LLP is starting what it describes as the first college-focused division at a major law firm to represent players, coaches, schools and conferences against what Kessler, 59, described as “the unbridled power and influence” of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
More should be done to protect players from the dangers of concussion, the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) former medical advisor said.
The call comes after researchers linked suffering repeated concussions from playing sport with memory loss, depression and early dementia.
Dr Barry O’Driscoll wants mandatory concussion awareness training for all grassroots rugby coaches and players.
As you may have noticed, posts here have slowed down as compared to 2011-12; this is not because I care less about the issue. Rather, it’s because one of the goals I set for myself was to get more attention brought to the issue of concussions – mostly about the underrepresented youth. I feel the media and access to information is light years ahead of where we were prior to 2012 and there are a lot of people to thank for that. I don’t know if this small space on the interwebs is part of that change, but I would like to think we had a small part.
I will continue to do my reading and research. You will still get my often outspoken opinion on issues. I will continue to catalog professional concussions. And I make a promise to all of you that have made this adventure worthwhile, I still will listen.
All of that being said; demands of a husband, father and working athletic trainer do take a bunch of my time. Although I do place a priority on this issue being a father of my three kids and a less distracted husband take precedence (not to mention the athletic trainer for over 200 student athletes).
I have found that I can get across a message or thoughts in 140 or less, so if you’re not following us on Twitter, I suggest you do that…
Please regard this as a thank you and a reminder to keep an eye out.