Thoughts on everything we are hearing and will see: An opinion

Certainly we are nearing a “too much” point in terms of concussion for most of the country. For others this is just the continuation of what we have been doing for years. From a personal perspective I do like the attention that the discovery process is getting. I am all for people getting all the info possible to make informed decisions.

I want to take this particular space in this post to assert that I am not – nor have I ever – been against any sport including football. I am, transparently, supporting flag and non-tackle football until high school. Yes, no scientific evidence proves this helps/hurts, but in all my work and research I am of the opinion that less dosage of repetitive brain trauma is better for humans.

That is where we stand, the issue really is one of repetitive brain trauma (RBT), not of sports or accidents or leisure activities. As Dr. Omalu clearly stated in his interview with Matt Chaney in 2011 and again today with Mike & Mike (hour 4); the brain does not heal itself. Damaging it, even on the microscopic level can and will leave a lasting impact. This is not just assumption, it is noted in many different studies regarding brain health after activities (see Purdue).

I am confident that with proper healing time and avoidance of re-injury the brain will find a way to function at or even better (proper learning and congnitive functioning) as people get older. The management of not only the “gross” injury of concussion and TBI is one that is getting better and as we get more research the management of the subconcussive hits and exposure, that too will be satisfactory.

What we all must do is take off the “emotional pants” and wade through the muck to find out what is important for us to make decisions for those that are not capable or even legal. Part of this is discourse and discussion (civil would be best). Everyone will be challenged intellectually and morally with this – it’s OK.

I noticed an article written by Irv Muchnick yesterday Continue reading

Advertisements

Before ‘Concussion’ Omalu was still Omalu

In two weeks time people will be going to the movies to see the screen adaptation of a forensic pathologist that unintentionally made the giant business of the N.F.L. weak in the knees. In the movie ‘Concussion‘ mega-actor Will Smith becomes a little known West African doctor, Bennet Omalu.

To many Dr. Omlau has been a recent discovery due mainly to this movie but also the discussion surrounding it, including Dr. Omalu’s op-ed piece in the New York Times. To a small circle of people his work and voice has been around much longer.

Early in 2011 Matt Chaney – a tireless cataloger of football catastrophic injuries and outspoken author/journalist – had an interview with Dr. Omalu. In this interview you can see that Dr. Omalu is still the same concerned medical practitioner as he is now.

With permission from Matt, I am publishing the transcript of his interview. Do with this what you will but Dr. Omalu takes on all sorts of issues surrounding the concussion discussion.

==========

BENNET OMALU

January 15, 2011 by telephone with Matt Chaney

Q. What football likes to do; this is what I learned in 20 years in the anti-doping issue, where we have so-called testing, and protection of players against drug use. Foremost, it’s very clear now, according to a host of experts worldwide, that so-called testing for steroids is bogus. It does not work. It’s invalid. It has huge faults in terms of its applications. Well, point being, football especially—but other sports too, especially the Olympics, and baseball, are learning by their example—football likes to [chuckle]… When it has a problem for which it’s being criticized for, it likes to go out and stable the science. It likes to go out and fund and/or hire scientists, to put together its prevention packages, and act like everything’s hunky-dory. And they do not share their science. They say they have a test, but they do not open it up to [peer review]—

Omalu: [he interrupts] A very good example, because WWE’s guilty of the same thing.

Q. Oh, really?

Omalu: This so-called ImPACT testing. That is a fraud, in my opinion. ImPACT testing is not a diagnosis tool. It is a forensic followup [model] to monitoring, to quantify or to evaluate the amount of damage. And to monitor, to see how a patient is improving.

Using the ImPACT testing in the acute phase of injury, to determine the amount of damage, actually makes the damage worse. Am I making sense?

Q. Oh, yes. Yes.

If anything, it actually makes the damage worse. OK.

I can allow you to re-cord if we’re going to talk about the science of concussions. You can re-cord, yes [pronouncing like ‘hit record’] …strictly the science ..… Just ask me questions specifically on the science.

Q. Yes, that’s kinda what I’m—what I’m interested in is the science. Let me say straight up I totally agree with your link of brain damage to football. I’m not even worried about that. I, I am, I totally agree with it, I have expert scientists, especially Chuck Yesalis of Penn State, who loves your literature, he loves your evidence, and he is also an historian on boxing injuries. He is well-familiar—he knows much of the literature that you’ve often referred to from boxing, as far as long-term brain damage—

Omalu: Why don’t you re-cord about, keep your questions strictly of the science. …

 

Continue reading

Vector Mouthguard Season Wrap Up: Product Review and Impressions

I find myself in a peculiar situation in regards to the Vector Mouthguard; I have indeed benefited from the relationship as mentioned in the first post about this product. However, I have also been honest and blunt with them while dealing with the product. I have made every attempt to be as objective and neutral on any product or research on this blog, in cases where my integrity may have been perceptually challenged I have noted such.

However, I have looked at many blogs about various products and come to the conclusion that this post is going to be an in-depth product review with my honest feedback. You, the reader, will have to trust – hopefully based on my track record – that it is an unbiased assessment. Heck this is just like the YouTube toy reviews that my and your kids watch constantly, minus the video and my ugly mug.

Enough with the mental hand-wringing and on to the after-season report on the Vector Mouthguard (you can catch up from previous posts with “It’s Actually Happening…“, “Day 1“, “Seeing Is…“, “Practical Application…” and “Ready for Primetime“). The last post about the mouthguard was prior to the first game and our team went on to play 10 games so there were a lot of happenings in regards to the Vector, I could write 3000 5000 words on it but no one would read all of it. I will try to bullet the ups and downs as well as noteworthy case uses. At the end I will attempt to address the common questions I had about this from other professionals, parents, coaches and kids. In advance, thanks for your time and if you have further questions hit up the comment section or my inbox.

Immediately the system had media attention about what we were doing for player safety at the high school as the “strange-looking” mouthguards were on the kids as well as a radar looking device on the sideline. Still in the quasi-euphoric/excitement stage of the process there was this interview that I did (completely independent) and captured the first three weeks of the regular season.

During that time we did have some individual mouthguards that were not functioning as planned/expected and some charging issues with the base units. Through conversations with the tech team at i1biometrics we were able to get everything going that was outside the norm. This is a key piece to note; the customer service was unbelievable and agile. Granted there were not thousands of systems in use and none of them had a loud-mouthed blogger running them, it was still what I can see this company continuing to provide for anyone with this product. A lot of the service could be done remotely or via mail. The grasp of the system and the actual engineers that are part of the solution team make it what it is.

As mentioned I didn’t quite know how or if this was going to change how I “did” things as an athletic trainer. Upon the month-long reflection and review after the season I noticed that I did change what I did. I started using the information provided to put a watchful eye on certain players and to confirm what I did see with my eyes. Or in one case I used it to see what happened to a player that I did not witness but my coaches told me about happening in a game. The system had started to provide me eyes that I don’t have but I never really relied on those eyes, but was happy they were there.

During games I started to Continue reading

Gridiron Heroes and the Movie

mv5botqxotq2ntixmv5bml5banbnxkftztgwotazotu3nte-_v1_sy317_cr60214317_al_Being part of the concussion space there are many different things that come to my inbox. Much of that is garbage and thinly veiled attempts at advertising for something that I am not interested in.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email about a movie that I had heard of in passing; Gridiron HeroesI did not know what it was all about but the co-director, Seth Camillo, encouraged that I see this. He never said it was ground breaking but told me it is “documentary about the important issue of brain and spinal cord injuries that are sustained on the football field.”

I was given the opportunity to screen the film and I must say that I was not disappointed by the hour and 17 minutes. (Trailer below)

It begins with a overview and reason for a foundation called Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation; the injury and subsequent paralyzation of Chris Canales. Although rare in occurrence this type of injury does happen on the football field. Instead of being overwhelmed by this difficult situation and blaming the game the Canaleses went about helping others that found them selves in this unfortunate situation.

Catastrophic injury and death should never be tolerated in sport, but like in life there are circumstances where they happen in freak accidents. This is not unlike car accidents that are no fault of anyone and understanding that life comes with some risk. The Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation set upon trying to heal and help those that have no clue what is happening and how to come to grips with the “finality” of these injuries.

The movie interviews former professional players – most notably Decon Jones’s raw and honest opinions, “players in the game” like Alan Schwarz, as well as those afflicted regarding the sport and where it sits in their eyes. The movie even takes on the issue of repetitive brain trauma and concussion.

This movie is not about tearing down the game/sport it is about facing the realization that football can be a risky endeavor for some and that instead of ignoring and looking past the issues, taking them on is the better way to approach this.

I am not a movie reviewer, per say, but I can tell you that this is worth your time and money (all profits from the film go to the Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation). This would be appropriate for anyone that is around football a lot like coaches and parents. It is not intended to scare but to inform, mainly about the foundation, but about the sport.

Seth Camillo and Andy Lauer did a fine job of telling a trying story not only of Chris Caneles and those like him, but of the sport of football.

You can get the movie on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Walmart Entertainment, Google Play and Dish Network.

If you have seen it feel free to comment on it, here.