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 that took apart some of the talking points from the Dr. Bailes interview also on Mike & Mike and other previous appearances:

The media’s Hippocratic go-to guy for youth football says, “There have been no deaths in 40 years of youth football.”

Not, mind you, “somewhat fewer deaths than critics suggest.”


Bailes made the remark at a September 2013 neurosurgery conference in Munster, Indiana, and in numerous other settings. I have an image of his slide at an April 2015 presentation in Chicago, which reinforces the bullet: “No deaths reported in youth football.”

Zero, my friends, is a serious number — beyond science, beyond politics, beyond rhetoric. It is Manichean, absolute. In this case, it’s also a staggeringly large lie.

According to Missouri author-journalist Chaney, the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (founded by UNC’s Frederick O. Mueller and now directed by Kristen L. Kucera) has reported 27 youth league football deaths since 1986. (The center reported one death, from cardiac arrest, in 2014; the group distinguishes “direct” impact deaths from those stemming from “indirect” causes.)

I might not be as strident against Dr. Bailes and his ilk – they do a tremendous amount of good work as well – about their personal beliefs in the sport of football and who and when it should be allowed to play, but I am concerned that we get the numbers right. It has to be right so people can make the informed decision on their own. The wordsmithing and massaging of the numbers that goes on in public spaces about concussion is tiring and madness.

We can, well should, agree that according to MEDICINE/SCIENCE that repetitive brain trauma is not a desired action in the short-term or long-term.

We should also take note of the actual problem in the word and realm of concussion: the mismanagement of the injury.

Do your best to find out the information that you feel is valuable to make such decisions. But one thing I implore everyone to do is; take a step back from the picture, get out of the frame for a few minutes and look at this from the distance. By doing this you actually notice other parts of the painting you are actually in.


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

  1. Marybeth Lang RN December 11, 2015 / 13:39

    As a Registered nurse I can honestly attest that Reiki treatment is very helpful for healing the effects of Concussion. I implore all parents and school sports teams to learn about it and have it available!

  2. brokenbrilliant December 13, 2015 / 08:35

    Sigh. I, too, have mixed feelings about Dr. Bailes, and it surprises me that he would have the audacity to claim “zero” deaths in youth football, when a simple Google search will prove him wrong — let alone the news reports that come out in a semi-regular basis.

    One thing which concerns me with the talk about the “Concussion” movie — as well as the tone of much info coming out — is that it sounds a bit catastrophic. I know people want to raise awareness and get people to take it seriously, but if people are too alarmed, they tend to just tune things out. Or go to extremes.

    Saying that a brain injury permanently damages the brain is certainly true. However, it needn’t permanently damage the person’s ability to function in life. With no less than 9 mild TBIs/concussions in my own rear-view mirror, I can honestly say that with the proper help and new techniques I’ve learned, my life is far better and more functional than it ever was before. There are things that don’t work as they did prior to my accident in 2004, but the ways I deal with them are so much more constructive — and effective — than I ever imagined they could be.

    Getting people all riled up over the very real dangers of concussion is one thing. Not providing them with any hope, is something I just can’t support. As I believe you’ve said a number of times, it’s not about prevention, it’s about management.

    Thanks for posting this.

    • Mike Young December 25, 2015 / 11:54

      My issue with the concussion issue is this, it’s real,I understand this,I’m an educated man. Partly because I was fortunate enough to get a college scholarship to play football.
      But, beyond education,which better protocols are being put in place for all sports. Ware does it stop! I’m sick of the few trying to take away from a great game for many. To even suggest that football should be banned til your 18,I’m sure absolutely ridiculous. For all you ridiculously liberal minded airheads,keep your scare tactics and frivolous lawsuits to yourself. That’s what great about this country, we all have the choice to choose. Pro athletes know the risks for concussions,joint injuries.
      Common sense says as a parent,your child will ensure some sort of injury if they participate in sports of any kind.
      If you want to be affraid,it’s your right,let your children play video games and keep them cooped up.but remember there are consequences for that as well.
      Quit being simple selfish minded,keep your mouth shut and quit having opinions about things your affraid of and let the kids play the great games they want to.
      You liberal minded wannabes should be ashamed of yourselves.

      • brokenbrilliant January 29, 2016 / 07:33

        Well, first off, don’t assume that everybody here is a “liberal minded wannabe”. I’m not getting political, but I can assure you, I’m anything but.

        Second, this whole discussion is really about having the right information. Banning football will probably never happen, but the NFL and others have been hiding the facts from everyone for years. Also, there are ways to play that don’t involve encouraging kids to hit their heads over and over and over. Some die after even “minor” repeat head trauma… and many who don’t die young suffer terribly, then end their lives before their time.

        Third, brain injury is different from a torn ACL or a broken bone. An injured brain affects everything in your life — immediately and later. I’ve had at least 9 concussions/mild TBIs, some of them from football, and having your adult life screwed up because you made bad choices as a kid — and nobody stopped you — is a lousy way to live. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, which is why I’m speaking out.

        Fourth, athletic scholarships are one way for folks to get a good education, and that’s important. And doing hazmat waste removal is also one way to support your family. The thing is, they’re not the only ways. If things change and football scholarships dry up, the market will open the way for others to appear, and there will be other character-building options available. If society wants, needs, and will pay for it, it will happen.

        Fifth, in case you’re concerned about your own health (because of playing football) and that’s part of what’s making you angry, be aware that recovery is possible, and you can have a long and full life, even if you did play football for many years. Yes, some kids develop CTE and die after playing from 7-17, but a lot more don’t. Just live your life and focus on your health. Repeat head trauma is not the end of the world.

  3. Vic Crain December 14, 2015 / 10:45

    Great posts. I have two burning issues in my life related to this:

    (1) My wife suffered a fall with concussion and damage to an occipital nerve cluster (her eyes no longer converge and she is being treated for severe headaches). She can’t drive or do a number of other things she used to like to do. So I live with the effects of TBI every day.

    (2) I am very concerned about economic discrimination in US society especially with regard to healthcare. The very affluent have access to treatments that, frankly, the rest of us can’t get. Getting state-of-the-art medical care often means travel to places where clinical trials of new technology are being conducted, sometimes overseas. Most people can’t afford to leave work for 4-6 months and relocate for treatment, and regular health insurance only covers a tiny fraction of the logistics expenses and none of the loss of income involved. In fact, unless you know someone in research (like me), you’re unlikely to know that any related clinical trials are underway or where they are.

    In fact, there is R&D in progress regarding regeneration of brain tissue and neural networks. We’re older than you are by roughly 20 years. The results of that work may not be in time to help us, but may be in your future.

  4. hotoil January 4, 2016 / 14:20

    Besides Concussions, Football does have serious injuries-hips,legs,neck,backs- some are paralization variety.Over a dozen Highschool DEATHS in 2015.Should School Boards and other Educational Institutions continue to Sponsor Football. What Professional Football says is not as relevant as what parents and Education says – based on Medical Evidence.

  5. Karen Irby January 10, 2016 / 16:24

    My son was completely healed of his football concussion by a treatment called frequency specific microcurrent therapy set on brainwave setting. This was a bad concussion, and after 2 weeks of being concussed, he was completely healed. It was not expensive. It was not invasive. And it worked!
    I have a second point, in the beginning he also had what are called ‘ice pick headaches’. Similar to what someone above described. These were resolved by one appointment with a highly qualified chiropractor. A bone in his temple area had been knocked a bit out of place by the same blow that caused the concussion.

  6. Delaney May 18, 2017 / 10:57

    Hi Dustin,
    I am doing a project for school about concussions. The information on this blog has helped me out a lot!!
    Thank You,

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