May Mailbag

As the sports season winds down at the high school I am finally getting to the various emails I have received. I do truly enjoy the many stories and questions I get here, often times they are very learned for me; which translates to more information for you the reader.

I picked out one such email and gained permission to reprint it here. The sole purpose of this email is to get feedback about the return to learn aspect of concussions. Tom would like you to give it a read and make comments below.


Return To Learn in the High School

I am an athletic trainer in a high school in the north suburbs of Chicago. We have a concussion program in place and see about 80 concussion a year in our athletics. I am fortunate to have some control over the return to learn side of concussions in my school. I have found that this is essential in order to properly manage a concussion. I find when physicians only see an athlete once and set accommodations for a determined amount of time, it does a disservice. The same is true if the time between physician evaluations is too long, especially when kids are kept out of school for long periods of time. I find many concussion students don’t need to be out of school, and those that do usually have their symptoms decrease significantly within 1-3 days.  Many times concussions progress rapidly and Continue reading

Have To Keep Educating & Holding People Accountable

The education of concussions is great, the legislation is in the right place but there is absolutely no accountability for instances where athletes are “failed”.  Before I go on, I am not perfect, I have and will continue to miss some things here and there (I missed an ACL in football which bothers me).  In fact, looking at the pressure I put on myself and hoping the world puts on my chosen profession of athletic training it may be a bumpy road.  However, missing obvious problems of health and welfare of athletes when one is an athletic trainer is inexcusable.  I implore anyone out there that feels I have missed something to call my ass to the carpet as well.

This brings me to something that I found in my inbox recently and it made me sick and should be handled.  This particular incident occurred in a state that has similar mechanisms for concussions as here in Illinois.  To create the back story on the “mechanisms” in play you should understand the state legislation and high school association concussion education;

  • Players, parents and coaches all have been given information regarding concussions
  • Officials have been given authority to remove player for concussion signs or suspicion including mechanism of injury (MOI)
  • Once removed they cannot return unless cleared by approved medical professional (IL is ATC, MD, or DO only)

With that information here is the email from a fellow athletic trainer – emphasis added is mine – (obviously stripped of identifying information);

Still have a long road ahead of education.

I was at a basketball game Friday night as a spectator and watched a player bounce [their] head off the floor.  Opponent had set a screen and athlete ran right into [defender], bounced off and landed on floor bouncing head off the floor.  The player then rolled around on the floor grabbing head and could tell [athlete] was in pain.  Time was called by the officials to attend to the player.   MOI would strongly Continue reading

TCB Mail Bag

I trust everyone has had a wonderful Christmas experience (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or going to have a good Boxing Day), with that I would like to wish everyone continued successes in whatever endeavor they choose.  Over the Holiday I have received many an email regarding concussions; apparently the down time has given people opportunity to share frustrations or good news.

Today I am bringing you a specific case in which we all can learn from.  At the least we can read this and prepare for similar situations that may arise – whether as a parent, doctor, coach or athletic trainer.  

As always you can write in and with your permission I will re-post anything you would like (and it may suit the audience).  It can be attributed to you or anonymously.  Keep it between 500-2000 words and omit any personal identifying factors if it involves patient care or sensitive information.

Here is our post today – by Anonymous:


Obviously today is Christmas Eve and in most regions of the country kids are not in school for at least the next two weeks. Maybe less, maybe more. All in all it is a great time to rest up that brain and recharge your body. As athletic trainers we also know that sports do not stop for the holidays. For the most part at least. If you remember last year I read an op-ed article that you put on your blog titled “Parental Decisions Can Undercut Good Concussion Laws” or something of that nature. Well, it’s happened again (as it has many times between that time and now but this one is a little more ridiculous than the last) and I’m nauseous!

To be as brief as I can on this without boring you this is the case of a female soccer player who sustained a nasal fracture as well as a concussion when fighting for a header in the air with an opposing player almost a month ago. To be clear, she actually suffered a deviated septum. Anyway, after our AT did a beautiful job of getting this athlete “entered” into our concussion protocol (which Mom still couldn’t get over the fact that she indeed had a concussion; whoda’ thunk it, right?) we all sat in our physician’s office (Mom, AT, myself, physician, athlete) and witnessed the concussion as well as the nasal issue being addressed. The athlete was clearly concussed (clinical exam, balance assessment, and symptom reporting were all abnormal but ImPACT scores remained at baseline) and the athlete was sent for an MRI and referred to an ENT for further evaluation of the nasal issue. Pretty simple. These folks were given the “red carpet” treatment as all of our athletes/parents are and everyone left happy. The consensus was to see the ENT and address that issue then to follow back up with our physician for the resumption of the concussion issue. The athlete ended up having surgery about a week later. She was out for about a week after that. The ENT cleared her to resume play and actually said that there was no concussion. Wow! OK!

Fast forward to last week during exams and the athlete did not follow-up with the AT during exams like she was instructed to do. She THEN shows up to a game on Saturday with a face shield and tries to plead her case to enter the game. The AT did her job and did not allow the athlete to play. Mom was irate. Athlete conceded. Coach was with the AT. So athlete did not go through the GRTP process and as of today the mother refuses to follow-up with our physician for final clearance after all of the objective information is noted. She is choosing to Continue reading

Part of Recovery is a Visual Component

More and more information coming in is dealing with the recovery/therapy for the 10-15% of those concussion patients that have symptoms linger longer than 7-10 days.  Just like the initial management of concussions none of it is tried and tested in the scientific world; however results are positive with many things.  For example we have discussed “Wiihabilitation”, vestibular training, and immediate activity (Buffalo Protocol); thanks to the inbox we can examine a tool for vision enhancement and visual therapy.

As with most products that send me email I ask they present in a story, something we can understand and identify.  After they send the email I then read and provide feedback if changes are needed to be on the blog; as well as follow up with their product.  Per my usual stance I am not endorsing this product, merely providing more information for readers that are looking for help/ideas.  You can think of it as screening products.

Without further ado here is the information about Dynavision;

Cincinnati, OH (May 30, 2012)—Jen Umberg never saw it coming. It was May 23, 2011, during a terrible storm in Cincinnati. Winds were gusting and she was trying to get inside. But before she could, she was hit in the head by her neighbor’s hose box that flew from next door.  Momentarily knocked unconscious and 4 1Ž2 feet from where she was, all she could think about was, what just happened?

“I felt the most intense pain of my life,” Umberg remembers, “I thought I had been shot by a bullet.”

Umberg was left with a concussion at the same time she was rehabbing from foot surgery a few weeks prior.  Two months after her accident, Jon Divine MD, her doctor and the Head Team Physician for The University of Cincinnati Bearcats, directed her to begin rehab at UC with their athletes using the Dynavision D2.  As part of her neurological evaluation, Joe Clark PhD used Dynavision to measure and train/retrain visual, cognitive and peripheral deficits.

“He developed a plan for a Novacare athletic trainer to use with me,” Umberg said, “ When my progress plateaued Continue reading

IHSA Responds to Proposals

I have finally received a response from the IHSA, Associate Executive Director Kurt Gibson emailed me today.

He was “appreciative for the input” and states that the IHSA is continuing to work on recommendations for such issues.  He did acknowledge that things don’t always go as fast as we want them to, undoubtedly letting me know that any changes will not be in place this coming season, which I can understand – sort of.

However the proposals can get on the official legislative agenda!  With a catch; I have to find a principal of an IHSA member school willing to put their name on it.

So I ask of you Illinois readers out there to put me in contact with a principal that would like to put their name on these proposals and submit them for the process of possibly being put in place.

Thank You!

Commentary on Proposal for Limiting Contact in HS Football

It has been over a week now since I wrote the high school sanctioning body in Illinois about making a change to limit contact in high school football.  This was not done to promote myself, nor was it to hammer a sport many – including me – love.  It was an attempt to get out in front of the issue and make proactive changes to protect not only the players but the game of football.  It is a genuine good intention on my part.

Since the letter went out via email and on this blog I have had many responses from many different people and places.  There have been questions and comments about what was written and in this post I will address as many as possible.

Let us begin with the deafening silence on the issue.  As in only one email in response (24 sent out) from the IHSA and its board of directors.  That response was as follows; “Thanks, Dustin”.  Yup that is it.  Not that I was expecting an invitation to HQ to break this down but maybe some questions or comments or stonewalling, nope – nothing.


Cost became a hot topic on this proposal.  Yes, I concede that hiring an athletic trainer will cost you some money, but seriously would you send you kid to a swimming pool without a life guard?  It is the same thing as sudden death, Continue reading

Review: Graduate Study Article on CTE

During this tragic time the inbox has been besieged by many stories, questions and information.  One such email came in on Wednesday night;

In light of Junior’s death, which dovetails with the Saints bounty fallout, I thought I’d pass along this paper I wrote in grad school last year about the long-term risks associated with concussions in professional football. Its something of a review article, that covers the development of CTE and physiology of concussions. I played football in high school and “sucking it up,” as you know, is part of the gridiron culture, but we need to education players, parents, and trainers about the difference between having your bell rung and developing a neurological disorder. This paper hasn’t been peer-reviewed by anyone except my professor, who was a medical writer, not a neurologist but I stand by the science. I started this article by asking for advice from Dr. Robert Stern, the chairman of the Center For The Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University. I drew on their research and many of their articles and they do excellent work.

I also wanted to thank you all for following this issue, which is becoming a major concern for athletes, fans, and families.

The author of the email and of the paper is Doug Taylor and I feel it is a very good piece for all to read.  Although, as Doug notes, the paper is not “peer-reviewed” it does not mean there isn’t valuable information for everyone to read and think about.  I would like to thank Doug for sharing this.

Long Term Effects of Concussions – Doug Taylor

Sports-related concussions are one of the most common injuries sustained by professional football players. The acute symptoms that follow a mild traumatic brain injury are well established, with many instances of headaches, confusion, dizziness, and short spells of amnesia. The long-term effects of these injuries are less comprehensively understood. Continue reading

“None of us is as smart as all of us.”

The quote in the title is a Japanese proverb, I have read it most recently in a very good book call “The Red Circle” by Brandon Webb; a biography of a Navy SEAL (you can learn a lot from these heroes).  As with most proverbs you can take the meaning and apply it to whatever you want.  In this case we are talking about concussions: awareness, education, assessment, recovery, treatment, etc.

One thing that I hope comes through is that I do not feel that I am a “be-all-end-all” expert, rather I am a devoted husband and father that is an athletic trainer that chooses to spend time paying it forward – so to speak.  I have been asked many times why this blog is here and there are many answers to said question but the underlying reason is simple: raise awareness and bring together all who care to create more understanding and better protection from this brain injury.

The simple fact is that we have only just begun to really understand the concussion injury, each episode (aptly coined by Xenith) is unique; not only from age-group to age-group but from person to person.  We know that males and females react differently, we know that youth and adolescent brains are much more susceptible to lingering effects than an adult brain, we know OR SHOULD KNOW there is no magic pill or course of action to prevent concussions other than living in a bubble, we know that there are very smart people out there with good ideas, we know that information can be controlled by many sources for many reasons, and we really should understand and know that the actual injury is not the elephant in the room, it is how it is handled from the beginning of the process.

Concussions are a process not an event; as soon as the injury occurs what happens next is what shapes the individual brain for eternity, yes eternity.

Where am I going with this?  Continue reading

Questions from readers…

It is that time to take questions/comments from readers and answer/comment on them to the best of my ability.  Remember that any information given should be conferred with your doctor.  This information does not take place of actually seeing your doctor.  Don’t be dumb see your doc and use this information to ask further questions.  Without further ado…

From: Hockey Guy, Subject: Stop scaring people

just wanted you to know that what you write about concussions is scaring people into not playing, enough information already, we don’t even have all the information.  i played for 17 years and i am fine.

That is awesome Hockey Guy, the fact that some of my information is actually sinking in makes me smile.  Good luck to you in the future.


From: Concussed, Subject: Letter from reader Continue reading

In the category of NOT shocking; Catastrophic Brain Injuries Rising in Football posted a story written by WFMY News 2 about the recent report from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (NCCSIR);

Monday, researchers at UNC Chapel Hill said catastrophic brain injuries associated with full-contact football appear to be rising, especially among high school students.

They call the increase alarming and said it indicates that more coaches and athletic trainers should change how they teach the fundamental skills of the game.

Until recently, the number of football-related brain injuries with permanent disability in high school had remained in the single digits since 1984.

However, in 2008 and 2009 10 injuries were recorded and in 2011 there were 13 injuries recorded. That’s according to the latest catastrophic football injury research annual report from the UNC-based National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research.

To me it is a double-edged resource; on one hand it is good the “good ol’ boys” of the research world (aka those most listened to) have presented this material.  On the other hand we have published information about this research BEFORE its release recently with the tremendous work of/by Matt Chaney.

The full report from the NCCSIR can be found here, it chronicles the catastrophic injuries from 1977 – 2011.

However with the recent and VERY accurate listings from Chaney there seems to be a difference, which Chaney so eloquently put it in an email to me; Continue reading

Outlet for Concussed High School Student

I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time to mention our loyal followers out there, thank you!  We get a lot of email from all sorts of places and most of it is very informative – with the occasional “will you link this” which turns out to be sports betting or worse.  I received this email a while back and while cleaning out the inbox felt compelled to share;

My name is Jacob Lichtenbaum. I am currently a senior at the Potomac School in McLean, Virginia. This semester, I’ve been writing a column about concussions in sports and also in general and your website has been a fantastic resource for me. I love the spins you guys put on all the issues and your candid, educated opinions on all concussion-related events. I especially appreciate your work because I am someone suffering from post-concussion symptoms myself.

This past summer, I suffered a concussion while participating in my varsity football training camp. You’ll be glad to know I was removed from action immediately, but my post-concussion symptoms unfortunately sidelined me for the entire season. I still experience the symptoms to this day, unfortunately with no end in sight.

I decided to write my semester-long column about concussions because I wanted Continue reading

Crosby Follow Up

As expected the Sidney Crosby news made the numbers move, especially in Canada, along with that I have only heard more questions than actual answers.  The inbox was full of speculation and “told you so, it’s not a concussion”, or “told you so Crosby was being a (insert your expletive)”, however there was NOT ONE email that could shed light on an actual diagnosis.

I asked all the emailers if I could re-print their submissions and none took me up on the offer, except one, and his opinion is one of clarity and perspective.  This email also provided the closest thing to what could be the actual issue.  Below you can read it in full (in the email correspondence we never hammered out if he wanted his name published, so it will remain anonymous); Continue reading

Action Sports an Issue Too

With the Winter X Games upon us, it is a good time to highlight that action sports, mostly unsupervised, are a concussion issue.  A faithful reader and father of a very good athlete summed it up this way;

The major scary part is millions of kids are out there, and ignoring the head slams and concussions because that is what is cool to do in action sports. Videos like this simply tell them to get back up…while in football the changes being made will hopefully make it OK to wait to return to play.

This father is exactly right, Continue reading

Mailbag Open

With the NFL season winding down it has become evident with multiple searches on the internet that the concussion issue is also slowing down.  It would be rather non-existent (circa 2009) if it were not for the NHL.  Because of this there will be more posts in the future dealing with not only hockey but other parts of this issue.

One of our favorite thing is to receive mail and answer questions.  Many times you see them in the comment section but if you would like to contribute or ask questions feel free.  We will keep all information anonymous; your question could be important for someone else as well.  We have done it before, with great success, and if I cannot get a thorough answer we have many resources/people we can bounce the question/comment off of.

If you have questions email them to us!

Sport of Lacrosse: A view from Dr. Cantu

Have I mentioned that I really LOVE you readers?  In case you have missed it, I do love all of you; you make this blog better every day.  In the mailbag today was an article forwarded to me from a family about lacrosse.  The article is from Inside Lacrosse the January issue, written by Terry Foy.  The article is a question and answer with Dr. Robert Cantu and has wonderful-insightful questions and answers.

Because I cannot in good conscience rip off the entire article I will provide the questions by Inside Lacrosse and some quotes, but mostly summations of the answers by Cantu.  Make sure you visit the article for all the information.

  • How familiar are you with men’s and women’s lacrosse?
    • Just like our stance on woman’s lacrosse, Dr. Cantu is very adamant about putting head-gear on players in that subset of the sport.
  • Are helmets one of the primary actors in diminishing the amount of concussions in lacrosse?
    • Depending on the actual cause of the injury helmets can help in decreasing the amount.  Dr. Cantu’s information provides him with data that show most woman’s lacrosse concussions come from stick strikes to the head.  He is correct in estimating that putting helmets on woman would decrease concussions in that case.  He does echo what we have been telling you from day one; helmets do not prevent the primary reason for concussions in collision sports (rotational forces).
  • Because the NFL changed their rules to protect from head injuries, do you think lacrosse, aside from adding helmets on the women’s side, needs to adjust any rules to create the same protection? Continue reading

Bonnergate in Nashville

I missed this case of another NCAA athlete that quite possibly was mismanaged.  We discussed the Josh Huff case in the Rose Bowl yesterday, HERE.  Thanks to an astute observer and commenter, presumably an athletic trainer, here is what happened, thanks Bryan (BTW it is you the reader that help us with the stories that matter);

Watching the Miss St. / Wake Forest Bowl game yesterday, the game kicked off for the second half. WF returned the ball and Miss St. DB Wade Bonner (#7) assisted on the tackle on the WF sideline. At the end of the play Bonner lay on the sideline on his stomach pointed towards the field. For a few moments he didn’t move, then got up gingerly and attempted to run forward. He instead went directly sideways for 5 yards, nearly running over the side judge spotting the ball at the end of the return. The side judge obviously noticed he was not ok and held on to him and turned across the field and motioned for help.

At this point the camera switches to the WF QB who is doing the college football routine of “Stare at the sideline blindly waiting for the coach to make up his mind about the play call”. Assumed it was taking so long because they were getting Bonner off the field. Wrong, just as WF walked to the line, the same side judge had to hold the game, run to the defensive safety spot where Bonner was lined up for the next play and make the Miss St. staff come get him. Good for the ref for following his responsibility and making him sit out.

So what happens? You guessed it. Less than a minute later Continue reading

Russ Bitely: NHL All-Concussed Team

From the inbox, an article;

Man oh man do I feel really bad for these guys — and for you and me too. Bad for them because they are the ones going through the trauma of the head injury and all the terrible symptoms that follow with the diagnosis of a concussion. It is one thing to lose the ability to stick handle a puck, take a check at center ice without feeling like your brains got scrambled, or even jump the boards for your next shift. That’s the game. It is totally a whole different story when you forget where your daughter’s school is, what date your wife’s birthday falls on, or even the desire to get out of bed in the morning — that’s life.

What else is awful about the concussion plague spreading around the hockey community? Well the fact that these players have devoted so much time, energy, and life into getting to the top professional league of the hockey world and in a moments flash the dream is or could be gone. How the hell would you feel if since age 4-5 you have been skating and where told no more. How the hell would you feel if you have been traveling all-around North America and beyond since the squirt/atom or pee wee days only to have your life-long dream in the NHL cut short. How the hell would you feel about all the sacrifice and commitment your family made over the years so you could do the thing you love, now perhaps just a distant memory.

That is how Russ Bitely, @russbites, started his article Continue reading

Mouth Gear Comments

If you have not been following the comment section you have missed a debate on mouth gear and concussions (Please feel free to enter into the conversation).  I believe that the information about how there is no current evidence that any oral device can attenuate concussions or help with symptoms related to the injury of concussions.  Here is a statement from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Sports Medicine Handbook – 4th Edition;

“The effectiveness of mouthguards for preventing or reducing the risk of sustaining a concussion remains controversial. Research continues to be done on the different mouthguards and their properties to answer this question, but there is currently no reproducible evidence supporting the use of any mouthguard to protect against concussion in any sport.”

For a health care professional dealing with sports injuries this should be a telling statement.  However there are those out there trying to push a product and make money on the misinformation about concussions.  Below you will see some of the exchange and the prime example of why there continues to be a problem. Continue reading

ER Doc Disconnect

Last week we ran a story about how there seems to be a disconnect between doctors, primarily ER docs, and the concussion issue (via @pirateatc).  It is going to take some extra work by those that know about this injury to educate those that do not have the full story, including doctors.  After that post I received an email from a reader I would like to share that with you (below in italics).


I’ve been reading your blog on almost a daily basis.  You’ve got great stuff that your writing about.  I commend you for your work.

I concur on the concern over the primary care physicians and the Emergency Room docs.  There really does seem to be a disconnect.  As I noted at our concussion summit, when we surveyed our members and asked them their thoughts about the knowledge of the primary care/ER MDs and the majority of them rated them as fair.  When asking what percentage of cases were either a) not recognized as a concussion b) cleared before appropriate guidelines, the response was about 70% of MDs either do not recognize the injury as a concussion or b) clear them before current guidelines.  That’s a big problem.

There was a recent article published in the J Emergency Medicine Continue reading

Mailbag: Response/Comment

I know we have talked about Michelle Trenum before, in fact she has been a very good sounding board for us here at TCB.  When we posted the Mailbag yesterday she had a thoughtful response and very intuitive words for everyone to see.  She even said it was OK to share with everyone.  So here is the email in full;

I really think what you are doing is so important…I only wish more people knew the information before they needed it instead of reading about it afterwards.

In today’s posting there was a mention of seeing yellow.   Austin and my other son would come home from football practice each day and tell me their “war stories” of particularly difficult or funny things that had happened at that day’s practices.  I enjoyed hearing about the practical jokes; about who was got put in their place by the coach that day; and who made everyone laugh.  They would also update me on particularly hard hits or injuries.  One day Austin told me about being hit so hard by our 300 lb lineman that he passed out for a moment then woke up and everything looked yellow.  He described it like he was looking through a jar of pee.  The mom in me freaked out when he said he’d passed out and he said “it is no big deal, I’m fine, I probably just got the breath knocked out of me because REDACTED is so big and he was on top of me, I don’t think I was really passed out….mom, stop freaking out, I’m fine”.  The possibility of a concussion was never on my radar.  I did mention the story after Continue reading

TCB Mailbag: The Weekend Warrior

It is a good thing to get questions in the inbox; more people wanting to find out more information about concussions.  That being said, as I state in the replies, a medical doctor should be the one to go to with problems with head injuries.  Use that as a base to all the “information and advice” that follows.  We will run the mailbag as a main theme presents itself; this edition will be about “The Weekend Warrior” or non-sanctioned athlete.  If you have questions and want them addressed in my professional, and sometimes comedic, opinion send it TO US.

We will begin with “T-Money”:

So I am playing some beer league softball and roving the outfield like Jim Edmonds in the early 00’s.  A ball is hit to the gap and I take off like a bullet and as the ball approaches the ground I dive and make the grab, well I guess I did.  I do not actually recall making the grab only opening my eyes and seeing the ball in the glove and everything was yellow.  Not a sunny yellow but the yellow of a softball.  I thought it was just because I was looking at the ball, but it was a night game and after I threw the ball to a teammate from my bum I tried to stand up.  And couldn’t, not that I was dizzy, but just didn’t have the power and the yellowness of my vision was very perplexing.  I figure I just got dinged a bit, what are your thoughts, and I did catch the ball!  By the way the yellowness went away after about five minutes.

Nice catch man, hope it was worth it!  This “ding” you are describing is a concussion; altered brain function.  You have described vision impairment (was the yellow like those cool Oakley’s?), memory impairment with a lapse in time, and unable to get up immediately, some motor impairment.  It sounds like you got home OK, but you best bet would be to lay low for a couple of days and let the symptoms die down.  If you are already taking fish oil, bump up your dosage for about a week and monitor your symptoms.  Seek a doctor that has experience in concussions with worsening symptoms, and head to the ER if symptoms become very worrisome.


Greg: Continue reading

Generation Alzheimer’s

In The Concussion Mailbag we received this from Diane Wright;

As you may have heard, there have been some amazing breakthroughs this past month in linking certain genes to Alzheimer’s, but there is still a lot of work to be done. This year, the first of the Boomer Generation turns 65. To bring urgently-needed attention to the risk facing the Boomers, Alzheimer’s Association released a groundbreaking study, Generation Alzheimer’s: The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers.    

I thought that you would be interested in sharing this important information with the readers of The Concussion Blog, so I’ve put together a microsite, with all sorts of information to help spread the word:

I think it is very interesting micro-site and anyone who may be suffering from AD should take a look.

Prince William County School District Setting Policy

After working with the Trenum’s since late last year I have taken a special interest in how Michelle and Gil have been doing.  Although they will never be the same, what they have been doing in their area has been nothing short of remarkable.  It feels good to me that parents like the Trenum’s have taken the initiative to help out, and are doing it in a manner that is professional and proactive.  After we ran that story Michelle got back with me with some thoughts and more specific information/wording in the school districts policy.

Thank you so much for all your help on this.  You really helped give Gil the information he needed to get the policy through.  The administration will now be working on the regulations and details.  Gil will stay on top of them to make sure all aspects are covered.  It was interesting in all the information the board received, the athletic trainers were credited the most as being the go to on this subject.  They were given ultimate authority over return to play which is good.  Although none of what passed would have made a difference in Austin’s case, once the final medical pathology study is released, we feel that it will keep the momentum on this issue to make changes.

Michelle and Gil not only sought information from people like me, but much smarter individuals; MD’s, PhD’s and the ilk.  With all that information she was willing to share the specific language the board is set to pass; Continue reading


In my effort to spread the word I frequent message boards and places I can help.  One such place is the Illinois High School Sports website.  After a discussion came up on concussions/head injury in basketball I gave advice and this website for resource, I unexpectedly got this in return;
Thanks for the information you have made available through IHSS. My teenage daughter fell and hit the back of her head last night and exhibits many of the signs of concussion. We took her to the ER and they did a head CT, no bleed on the brain. I would have had her back doing things much quicker had I not read the information on your site and the links in it. After reading the information, I called home and put her on a mental break, as any teenager she was ready to get back to normal, but still has a loss of memory and a strangeness to her.
She went from me probably letting her go back to cheerleading on Monday, to sitting until symptoms clear.

Thanks for spreading your knowledge.

Chris Gordon


Austin Trenum, What His Mother Wants You To Know

I recently ran a story about Brad Evans and his untimely death, knowing this was not the only person or family that has suffered from such horrible things.  What I didn’t know was that there are families that want their stories told.  Let me preface by saying that I am just a guy who has devoted his spare time to raise awareness about concussions and their lasting effects, just ONE guy and I was utterly floored and brought to tears by an email I received today, the sender was Michelle Trenum, mother of Austin Trenum who also ended his life prematurely on September 27, 2010.  Austin had been diagnosed with a concussion sustained in a game the previous Friday.  Here is Mrs. Trenum, a grieving mother’s email to me;

I saw your blog posting on Brad Evans.  Our son, Austin Trenum,  received a “mild to moderate” concussion on September 24, 2010 at his football game.  Less than 48 hours later, our beautiful, smart, funny, happy, athletic, talented son took his life suddenly and spontaneously.  There was no warning, no depression, no mental health issues, no drugs or alcohol issues, no divorce or financial issues, no trouble with friends, no trouble with school, no fights or breakups with girlfriend, etc.  We found out about Brad Evans the day after it happened when the press contacted us noting the similarities of the two boys.  We were not up to speaking to the press but a friend who represents the family did call down there.   The reporter down in Fayetteville who’d personally interviewed Brad’s family and friends and they all said that everyone said the same thing about Brad:  that there was no reason and that he was excited about his future.  That sounded so familiar to us.

We know with every fiber of our being that Austin would never have taken his own life.  He was too well adjusted, happy, and so excited about college.  He was making plans for that Sunday evening with his girlfriend, Continue reading