Marc Savard Out For the Season (UPDATED)

Ongoing post-concussion symptoms relating back to last NHL season will force Marc Savard to sit the remainder of the year.

Savard sat out the first two months of the season and training camp to recover from the post-concussion syndrome, an injury that came from a blindside hit by Penguins’ Matt Cooke on March 7 of last season. However, after returning on Dec. 2, he suffered another concussion on Jan. 22, his  second in less than a year.

Savard is quickly becoming the “face” of post-concussion syndrome in hockey, and the guy has had some serious bad luck.  It is not known as of now if these are his only two concussions he has suffered during his career, but they may be his last.  His professional hockey career is now at a crossroads, and retirement may be in the cards.  This is truly one of the “good guys” in the sport and it is a shame that it may all come to an end.  We can only hope that he does good and educate all that will listen about his story and help others in the NHL currently and in the future.

This will certainly be an interesting story to follow as more details emerge. (Source)

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Update: The Bruins and Marc held a press conference today. NESN has full coverage but some highlights:

-No chance of a return this year no matter what the Bruins playoff situation might be. Continue reading

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Rise of NHL Concussions Bad Luck?

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was recently quoted (AP Story):

“(He)…. believes the rise in NHL concussions this season is a result of “bad luck”.

He went further in saying:

“I’m not saying that no concussions came from hits to the head, but it appears that the increase is coming from somewhere else,” Bettman said.

Before I critique either of those comments, I will preface this by saying it is possible these quotes were taken out of context of a longer conversion not covered in the AP story.  Personally I believe Commissioner Bettman was really stating that it  was its “bad luck” that the league superstar (aka Sidney Crosby) sustained a concussion and brought increased media attention to NHL concussions.  But regardless of the intent of the comments, this headline should be seen as a negative for the league.

As this blog has extensively covered, this NFL season vaulted ‘concussions’ into the public consciousness and conversation.  As a result, many states and organizations are now rushing to create and enforce  stronger return-to-play guidelines.  I don’t think there are many informed medical professionals that will agree with the Commissioner’s assessment that the increase in concussions is purely related to statistical chance or luck.  With the league struggling to regain and retain fans post-lockout and TV viewers post-Olympic bump, many will agree that the speed, the hits and the fights (true even though the NHL will deny it) are the main draws of the sport.

As we have and many other media outlets have reported, the NHL has Continue reading

Technology In NFL

An interesting report from wired.com circulated last week that states the NFL may allow impact sensors in helmets, pads and mouth guards next year.  The wired.com piece fails to mention that this is not a new technology, and has already been used in both practice and research at the college and high school levels.  The most widely available technology is from Simbex and is featured in a commercially available system marketed exclusively by Riddell (HITS).

Which brings me to my point – many would assume that professional sports have the best and most advanced equipment available, but that is not exactly the case when the company is not the official supplier/sponsor or may somehow, someway affect the collective bargaining agreement (see any NFL or NHL helmet discussion).  While players are generally allowed to wear any helmet they wish, the current technology of accelerometers in helmets is only capable in Riddell brand equipment.  As for the other sensors in the pads and mouth, those do not have “exclusive” rights, as of yet.  This fact could “muddy” the water in data collection and interpretation.

ESPN’s NHL Concussion Coverage

Jason Molenda via Ice Oaisis, Labeled for Reuse

As  football winds down in the next few weeks hopefully the generally good media coverage on concussions doesn’t go away.  ESPN.com is doing a feature this week on concussions in the NHL.  Most of it is very good and similar to the NFL coverage but the video featured in the article brings up an equipment issue that not everyone would associate with concussions…  shoulder pads.

The video does a good job covering the issue but to summarize; after 7 years of “research” the NHL is beginning to pad the hard shell cups used in the shoulder pads in an effort to hopefully reduce the ability to use them as weapon.  I used air quotes around research because I haven’t seen the scientifically based data supporting this change, but on the surface and based on common sense “research” it seems like a good idea. 

I am going to dig around in the literature and if I find something that will substantiate this it will come in another/later post.  An interesting side note, the NFL realized some veteran players were never going to change their pads so the league “worked” with the athletic trainers to bring their pads into compliance.

Now if the NHL would only do something about the “helmets” used in hockey…..

Pop Warner Concussion Rules

Looks like Pop Warner, with the help of the NFL, has created a medical oversight committee, and their first task was the creation of some head injury rules/guidelines.  I am still looking for a full press release with more details – all info I have is based on this espn.com article.  Youth athletes MUST have a note from a doctor before allowing return to play.  While this is a GIANT step in the right direction, this issue is certain to be filled with  problems purely on lack of universal access to medical professionals experienced with sports-related head injuries. More to come when I find the full press release…

Update 1:

Wow, I am impressed… there were a few things that came to mind when I read the espn.com article that I was immediately concerned about, and it appears Pop Warner did a great job with these rules.  While I still have some concerns, it is certainly a SIGNIFICANT step forward in youth athletics.

My number one concern was parents – now I know there are many great parents out there, many that would do anything for their children – but with that comes another problem.  Sometimes doing anything and everything is going too far, specifically I’m talking about two things.  1.) Parents being objective and seeing the bigger picture when their child is injured in athletics (sometimes it becomes hard to remember that this is just a game for fun).  And 2.) parents who are also medical providers can have their judgment clouded when it’s their child that’s injured.

Fortunately, Pop Warner has addressed these issues.

S3: Injured player: Once removed by reason of injury, a player shall not re-enter the game without the approval of an official licensed athletic trainer or medical professional who is not a parent/guardian of the player.

More to come.

Full Press Release

Good News from College Hockey

Well not completely concussion related it’s always good to share a positive injury story.  Denver University senior Jesse Martin had successful spinal surgery on Monday and was able to walk for the first time since a hit on  October 30th fractured his C2 vertebra.  The hit did result in a 5 minute major penalty (No word on if the NFL will try to fine the NCAA hockey player).

Read The Full Story HERE

MLB Considering Shorter DL for Concussion

Major League Baseball has a unique problem when dealing with concussions… the disabled list. The DL can be so complex it warrants its own Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disabled_list). The MLB season is a long grind – days and days of back-to-back games for months on end…yet the shortest stay clubs can place an athlete on the DL is 15 days, which can create roster management problems. For this reason, many clubs are forced to do what they can to avoid sending someone to the DL who really doesn’t need to be there for a full 15 days. Making a DL decision with a concussion can be more complicated than with a “run-of-the-mill” orthopedic injury.  Clubs have been hesitant to diagnose a concussion when one occurs due to the unpredictable recovery rate. But according to reports surfacing today, it appears MLB is preparing to create a shorter DL stay for players with head injuries. Initial reactions appear to be positive, and from what I can tell, seems to be a step in the right direction. This fundamental change would allow clubs the flexibility to wait out every symptom and not rush an athlete back before they should because of  roster management reasons.

AP Report via ABCNews

Need to Keep the Positive Momentum

Yup Crowder... Go ahead and play without your helmet... (Photo courtesy of Boston Globe)

Since the  multitude of concussion episodes in the NFL last  weekend, the media coverage has been relatively positive. A quick google news search returns 2,680 results for the search term “NFL Concussion”  dated between Sunday and Wednesday.  (http://bit.ly/9ExWRx)  But something happened yesterday afternoon.  NFL players (specifically defensive players), bloggers, radio hosts and guests began making considerably more negative comments about the NFL decision to impose suspensions as opposed to fines.

Across the web you will find various references to how football is a “warrior’s” sport and how it has and always will be dangerous. Many news outlets reported on James Harrison’s comments about having to sit out NFL games until he can learn to tackle or possibly just retire from the NFL because he doesn’t think he can play the game under the NFL’s rules (maybe in some strange way he is correct… maybe he should step away from the sport if he only knows how to play is to injure others).  Other players felt that the NFL response is a material rules change that should be addressed in the offseason and subject to the collective bargaining agreement. But one comment by Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder really stands out…..

“If I get a chance to knock somebody out, I’m going to knock them out and take what they give me.  They give me a helmet, I’m going to use it.”

While I could spend an entire post about how a helmet was never intended to be used as a weapon (as he is implying) or if this is the only way you can play defense, maybe you don’t have enough talent or speed to play that position…but the real problem with the quote is the amount of “air time” Continue reading