Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

In a time when I truly feel strongly that we should collaborate rather than look down noses’ at other peoples work and words within the concussion realm there seems to be none of that with a recent report from TSN, Canada.  Although I did get a chance to read, I really didn’t have the perspective that, say, a Canadian would.  Insert Terry Ott, who has penned some very interesting articles here, in regards to concussion coverage and information — particularly in Canadian Football — from north of the border.

I believe Mr. Ott presented a very fair summation of the information provided — mainly the Tator quote — via TSN.  It has been very interesting to see how different places handle the concussion issue, from North America to Europe to Australia.  For the most part it mainly has to do with the “biggest #&^!” in the room.  Which is not always the best way to accomplish the same overall goal: tackling the concussion issue — head on!  (see what I did there?)

Remember, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” -Japanese Proverb

Now for Terry




Dec. 6. 2014


In Canada, The Concussion Blog has come an awfully long way in the past 18 months.

Prior to its ongoing addressing of the concussion crisis in the Canadian Football League the site was definitely for seekers of specificity of brain injury and prevention, but certainly not pertaining to the CFL. Canuck readers were limited.

All of that changed last July when The Concussion Blog broke the story of the first concussion related lawsuit filed in Canada by former CFL player Arland Bruce. The Concussion Blog is now required reading for many interested parties of Canadian football and the northern medical community researching brain injury.

And now, Canadian-based The Sports Network (TSN) which previously had cast a rather jaded TV and radio eye on the Arland Bruce concussion lawsuit now seems to be seriously pursuing the story with a Dec. 3 piece by Rick Westhead on their Website:Westhead: Bruce lawsuit claims CFL should have offered helmet to monitor for concussions

The Westhead piece is well written and deals predominately with the the jurisdictional legal challenges now facing the Bruce suit and the Riddell Revolution IQ HITS sensor helmet but also touched on a fundamental style clash between the brain research being done in Canada by Dr. Charles Tator and the Krembil Neurosciences group in Toronto, Ont., and the Boston University CTE Center which is recognized by many world-wide as the “gold standard” in concussion and CTE research.

When interviewed by Westhead about the rather curiously titled and limited participant (6) “Absence of CTE” 2013 study by Dr. Tator and colleagues which was written about extensively earlier this year on this Blog, what had reportedly been a sort of BU/Toronto researcher gentleman’s agreement to not rock the communal scientific boat led unexpectedly to a rather interesting statement by Tator.

“The Boston group has gotten in the habit of calling a media conference every time they find (CTE),” Tator said. “We have a different style,” Tator told TSN. Although Tator did not explain for the article the nature of that “style,” as well as the fact that nearly all of the 90 odd brains of former football players examined at BU did show signs if CTE, including one former CFL player. Publish or perish may well be the motivation for BU, as well demonstrating the seriousness of the problem to the public rather than having anything to do with “style.”
Dr. Tator, who is a named defendant in the Bruce lawsuit, also diminished previously published findings in 1952 by Harvard University that found that three concussions should stop a player from playing again. Bruce’s legal team has highlighted this in their latest pleadings although Tator has asked the court to dismiss the entire claim against him in his defense filings.
Tator also addressed the pleading in the most recent Bruce filing in the TSN piece.

“They (Harvard) must have had a crystal ball in 1952,” Tator said in an interview with TSN. “(The recommendation) certainly would not have been based on any science. It would have been a wild guess. Someone picked that out of a hat…”

Perhaps in an interesting amalgam of metaphor a hat or crystal ball, but maybe also picked from witnessing the damage done as the concussion incidents escalated for any particular player in a sort of best practices for the time or even just a common sense pronouncement and through the 50s and 60s knowledge of the seriousness of concussions increased rapidly and certainly not just “out of a hat.” Or even a crystal ball, if in fact they could be consulted for football matters.

Obviously, healthy discussion within the medical and research community regarding a disease as severe as CTE should always be subject to vigorous debate and even at times disorderly dispute. Dr. Tator repeatedly states that “extreme caution” must be exercised in diagnosing CTE, whilst the BU CTE center seems to have gone well past being CTE “cautious.”

Yet when there seems to be a current movement to get all concussion prevention and treatment interested parties on the same page, Dr. Tator’s singling out of BU’s public relations methods, and his rather flippant disregard for Harvard University’s 1952 concussion recommendations would appear to be a step backwards as far as finding consensus on the concussion problem which is fast becoming a significant public health concern and danger to the sustainability of tackle football at all levels.

The BU CTE Center was unavailable to comment on Dr. Tator’s comments for this article.

One thought on “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

  1. jbloggs13 December 6, 2014 / 16:01

    The great concussion researcher Jeff Barth is found of saying, everyone has an opinion but not all are of equal value.

    It is too bad that Tator has veered off course. He did some great work in Canada over the years. Nonetheless, it seems concussion research simply corrupts one only needs to look at Collins, Lovell Maroon and UPMC.

    The Harvard conjecture was based on clinical experience. Perhaps not the gold standard but prescient. I too felt BU was participant in announcing its findings. Now as we approach nearly 100 football-related cases with nearly a 100% hit rate, it seems Dr. McKee may have been correct. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of CTE research are the number of very young NFL players with advanced CTE. On the other hand, a consensus will be form based on both pathology and clinical experience. It will be a relief.

    Almost all the funding comes from interested parties like the leagues or the Department of Defense. These entities don’t want the truth and can’t handle the truth. They hire and promote people practicing outside their fields like Guzkiewicz Iverson and McCory who will say anything on queue to get that next round of funding or unrestricted grants. There is little doubt they will go down in history as morons or paid hacks.

    Too much money at stake for the powers that be to let things rely on science and not spin. There is no compromise since science is becoming more crystal. One morning sometime in the future we will wake up, and the truth will be accepted. I just don’t know when that morning will come.

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