2013 Week 11 NFL Concussion Report

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

It is official, every team in the League has now reported a regular season concussion.  This is the earliest in a season this has occurred, which is a good thing, in my opinion.  In the past three years there seemed to be at least one team that had not reported a concussion all the way until Week 15 or later.  There have been cases of a team not reporting a single concussion during the entire season.  Knowing what we know about concussions, with the information from players over the years this would seem almost impossible.  The injury of concussion is going to occur in football, why be scared of it.  Just deal with it properly when one is identified.  That brings me to my next rant of the week, Wes Welker.

As we watched on Sunday night, Welker took a shot as he was going to the ground and the ball came lose.  It was postulated that he lost consciousness (it will never be readily admitted to) and was subsequently evaluated on the field.  The Broncos say at that time he was evaluated for a neck injury, which is very plausible.  If the med staff didn’t see the mechanism or sudden results they can only go off what the player was telling them at that moment.  He returned the next series for one play and was finally removed for concussion.  The question is what transpired in that roughly seven minute time.  Possibly the NFL booth observer could have radioed down to take a look.  If that were the case then this communication needs to happen quicker.  Possibly Welker himself realized something was amiss and alerted sideline personnel.  If that were the case then delayed symptoms could be to blame, or finally he had some wherewithal in that moment, or the sideline personnel had the chance to interview other sideline people and get the whole picture.  There is a lot we don’t know and won’t know during that time frame.  The ultimate good thing was that he was removed and classified as a concussion.  In defense of the athletic trainers and docs, I have seen/been part of many cases where delayed reporting happens.  It sucks that I miss them, but it happens, it is the nature of the beast here.  Concussions are primarily subjective, in the case of Welker, it should have been spotted that he was incapacitated during the hit.  But even trained eyes can be blocked out by other players on the field.

As of yesterday it was reported that Continue reading

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2013 Week 10 NFL Concussion Report

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

There has been a spike in concussions.  I repeat, there was a spike in the number of concussions this past week.  In all honesty people should not be surprised by this occurrence; what should be surprising to all of us is the fact that it took ten weeks for there to be double-digit concussions in a single week.

Although Week 10 produced 11 concussions it is not near a record for a week.  That distinction belongs to Week 12 of last season, where there was 19 concussions reported.  People should not be worried about the 11 concussions, as it was expected at this point in the season.  We have noticed that in the past three years over 60% of all concussions reported occur between Week 10 and Week 16 (we feel it would be greater if Week 17 reporting were mandatory).

Our simple hypothesis is: cumulative effects of traumatic head trauma (although mostly sub-concussive) predisposes the brain to a concussive event with less force required late in the season.  I cannot think of any other factor that would produce a significant increase in concussions in the back 1/3 of the season.  There is three weeks of byes with 4 weeks of full scheduling.  If you just compare W1-W7 (51 this year) to W10-W16 the numbers are even more spread out.

I would say expect more of the double digits than the single digits from here on out.  That being said, expecting one thing and the seeing the results are another.  Quick note; welcome to the real world Buffalo…  Let us move on the Week 10 numbers (indicate previous week);  Continue reading

2013 NFL Week 9 Concussion Report

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

The steady number of concussions continue, there were eight reports this week.  There is not really much to say at this point about the frequency or lack of frequency of concussions; the next important date/time frame is the Week 13 report.  That is when all teams will be off their bye’s and the point at which we have traditionally seen a spike in concussions.

However I do find some interesting notes about this and last week.  We noted we would be interested to see how Keith Tandy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was listed on the Official Injury Report.  Although there was a very credible tweet regarding his concussion, he was officially listed as “ankle”.   This one example highlights the issue we have discussed with the NFL OIR, it can be difficult to ascertain all concussions just by following that data set alone.  Secondly, we noted last week that the Miami Dolphins were the only team in the league without reporting a concussion from the beginning of training camp.  Well, that has changed as Nolan Carroll was found this week.  This means every team has now reported a concussion at some point.  There are, however, three teams yet to report a regular season concussion: Arizona, Buffalo and Chicago.

Let us present the Week 9 Report (indicate previous weeks numbers);  Continue reading

Report Hidden in Foreign Press

This report was brought to my attention by Matt Chaney, it details a study of former NFL’ers;

Unusual activity in the frontal lobe, observed in former National Football League (NFL) players as they carried out a cognitive test, matched records for heavy blows they had received to the head while on the field.

“The NFL alumni showed some of the most pronounced abnormalities in brain activity that I have ever seen,” said lead author Adam Hampshire, a neuroscientist at Imperial College London.

“(The) level of brain abnormality correlates strongly with the measure of head impacts of great enough severity to warrant being taken out of play.

“It is highly likely that damage caused by blows to the head accumulate towards an executive impairment in later life.”

NFL games have come under growing scrutiny for what critics say is a dangerous rate of concussions after hard blows to the head.

Some have drawn links between the on-field physical traumas and later neurological problems such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, which in turn have been blamed for depression and suicide.

The new study does not find evidence of disease, but highlights brain areas that may have been affected by repeated, severe impacts. And it says standard tests do not pick up this subtle damage.

This has been reported on by several “non-sports” media outlets but I cannot find it on a link to a popular sports news source, if you have let us know in the comments…  This link is from ABC, Australia…

Here is a LINK to the full text, titled: Hypoconnectivity and Hyperfrontality in Retired American Football Players.

2013 Week 7 NFL Concussion Report

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

What if?  What if the trend we are seeing continues?  What does that mean?

Interesting and important questions; being mindful that this is one year out of four and we have yet to see a yearly trend of lower concussion numbers.  Simply it means that, perhaps, the NFL is on the right path.  The numbers are starting to become hard to ignore and we have what some like to call a “developing story.”

What I don’t want to see is those reporting on this to pontificate that the NFL has a handle on this issue, it will take a few more years of this type of reporting to proclaim that.  All of that being said it is very interesting to us here and worthy of a deeper look.  As we highlighted last week, it seems that policies are starting to take root.

The numbers are as follows for concussions/head injuries through Week 7 (indicates previous weeks values);

  • 6 concussions/head injuries found from Week 6 (7)
  • 45 regular season concussions noted (45)
  • 105 total concussions in 2013 (99)
  • 7.29 Concussions/week (7.50)
  • 123 Projected Concussions (127)
  • 0.48 Concussions/game (.50)
  • 8.41% InR (8.66)
  • 7.30% EInR (7.52)

Running Totals for Regular Season:

  • 25 Offensive (22) – 26 Defense (23)
  • Positionally Speaking
    • QB – 3 (1), RB – 6 (6), TE – 3 (3), WR – 8 (8), OL – 5 (4), DL – 5 (4), LB – 6 (6), DB – 15 (13)
    • Team Breakdown
      • JAX, NYJ, SD, WAS – 4
      • DET, OAK – 3
      • CAR, GB, HOU, KC, NE, PHI, PIT, SF, TEN – 2
      • ATL, BAL. CIN, CLE, DAL, DEN, IND, MIN, NYG, PHI, PIT, STL, TB – 1
      • ARI, BUF, CHI, MIA, NO, SEA – 0

Our definition of Incidence Rate (InR) is projected concussions/45 players taking the field per team per game, our definition of Epidemiological Incidence Rate (EInR) is projected concussions/53 man roster per team.

  • Comparing to past seasons the following has been found after Week 7: # (2012, 2011, 2010):
    • Regular Season Concussions – 51 (64, 66, 60)

Matt Chaney’s Take on Heads Up Football

The post below is from Matt Chaney’s Blog, re-posted (in part) here with his permission.  We are posting it here not as an endorsement, rather as an opposing view that is worth the read.  Our commentary on this article by Chaney will be below this post.  We encourage everyone to see the entire post on his blog.  You can view it by clicking on the hotlink, it is titled; ‘Heads Up Football’: Truth, Tales and Legal Consequences.

==========

By Matt Chaney

Posted Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Peter King posits bogus hitting technique as Safer Football in Sports Illustrated

—geezuz, the further we go in this latest football crisis, the worse many people become, willingly, on behalf of the sexy blood sport… and so Peter King of SI skips along, telling us bona fide prevention is possible for football’s irreversible head-ramming… a new post by the Hall of Fame football scribe portrays Heads Up ‘proper contact’ as legitimate; King purports this theoretical headless hitting can be instilled by coaches, enforced by referees, adopted by players… I’d like to see King demonstrate on a football field, suited-up himself for forward collisions governed by physics and bullet-head helmets; he’d ram, too, or get his ass kicked… look, folks, players cannot govern or stop ramming on a football field; rather, forces of the crazy game dictate human behavior… forget talk and trust your eyesight, especially naïve parents and kids, to understand Heads Up ‘technique’ is invalid, unreliable, a lienothing new: it’s mere rehash of musty old ‘head up’ form hitting, proven invalid since the 1960s… here’s King, introducing his discussion:

What’s been eye-opening to discover is the trickle-down effect from the NFL to youth football. As the pro league emphasizes safety more and more, so do high schools around America. … Coaches are concerned; 41 of 49 polled [by SI] said they have modified training techniques because of increased education about concussions and head trauma.

—sure, trickle-down effect will reform football danger, once again… solution for brain trauma in the collision game is just around the corner… like trickle-down ‘steroid awareness’ for football’s immense problem with anabolic substances…  King continues:

Several high school coaches emphasized the NFL teaching new tackling techniques, such as “Heads Up Football,” which teaches coaches to train kids to tackle with heads up—instead of using the helmet as a battering ram. Said Middlebury Union (Vt.) coach Dennis Smith: “In any drills we’re doing—whether it be fundamental drills at the beginning of practices, especially defensive practices—we’re always stressing head up. You have to be able to see what you’re tackling.” … Said Brandon (Miss.) coach Brad Peterson: “We always start the year, whether spring or fall, with walking through the proper techniques of tackling.” … The coach of E.O. Smith High in Storrs, Conn., Jody Minotti, said he knows he can’t prevent every concussion, but he trains his players to minimize the risks. “We do less contact throughout the week and we teach proper tackling,” said Minotti. “We preach in practice all of the time, ‘Bite the ball. Bite the ball.’ That means keep your head up and don’t ever lead with your helmet. We film tackling, we talk about tackling whenever we’re watching film.”

—huh, these coaches don’t address the facemask dilemma, the prime fault of football rules behind the charade of Heads Up, ‘proper contact,’ ‘head up technique,’ ‘anti-butting’ or whatever term… this toothless policy and language have been a football mandate since 1976, for high schools and the NCAA… the rules specifically ban Continue reading

2013 Week 6 NFL Concussion Report

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

Did you know it was two years ago this week that the NFL put in the fine system for targeting and helmet contact?

The trend continues.  At the beginning of the season we were reserved on making presumptions of the low number of concussions we were seeing.  Although we still want to wait until the end of the season to solidify our thoughts it can be said that through six weeks the numbers are significantly down.  We are over 1/3 of the way into the NFL season and we have seen the total number of concussions reported/found to be – hopefully – a good sign.

There could be a myriad of reasons for this;

  • Positive
    • Players are grasping the lower target zone
    • Players are respecting the injury, therefore one another (case in point Larry Fitzgerald crack-back blocks last night)
    • Players are receiving better management of concussion
    • Less contact in practice is paying off
    • Better rule enforcement
  • Skeptical Thinking
    • Teams being less forthcoming
    • Players hiding the injury

As you can see the good outweighs the “bad” in this line of thinking which is a good start.  Again we want to reiterate that after Week 12 and before Week 17 there is usually a spike of concussions.  Two reasons for this: 1) all teams will have completed byes and more players on the field and 2) the possibility of cumulative effects leading to more concussions, a threshold if you will.

As it stands now there have been 45 reported/found regular season concussions which is about one weeks numbers lower than the previous three years average of 54.67, through six weeks.  If the numbers stay on this course we would be looking at approximately a 19 concussion drop or about 11%.  This would be a massive decline, considering that the numbers have risen for the past three years.

The above is a good thing, I for one am hoping for all the positives to be true.

Before we get to the numbers some QUICK NOTES: Continue reading

10/17 Quick Hits

HockeyNow question and answer with Charles Tator (one of the best);

HN: What have we learned about concussions that maybe we didn’t know a decade or two or three ago?

CT: There are about 30 things that we didn’t know just 10 years ago. For example, the adolescent brain seems to be most susceptible to concussion and takes the longest to recover. It’s rather unfortunate because that age is when kids are now big enough and fast enough that they are getting concussions—it’s also the risk-taking age.

Also, women appear to concuss more easily than men; and that holds for sports like hockey and basketball. We’re not really sure why that is but that’s what the data is telling us.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about concussions. We still don’t know the exact mechanism—although, rotational acceleration is more important in producing concussions than linear acceleration. And also, we don’t know how to detect a concussion on imaging techniques; for example, there is no telltale sign on a CAT Scan. And the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is still not showing us the effects of concussion. We are hopeful that some newer sequences of MRI will be more informative.

A concussion is still a clinical diagnosis, meaning that it depends on a knowledgeable examiner, like a physician, as well as a compliant patient. And not all patients are compliant; there are still people who want to hide the symptoms and signs of a concussion.

HN: How important is recognition of a concussion?

CT: All you have to do is look at Sidney Crosby—the fact that he got his first concussion on a Monday and it wasn’t recognized; and then on the Wednesday, he got his second concussion and it took a year to recover. It’s important to sit out until you’ve fully recovered and follow the six-step process of gradually incorporating more physical activity, so that your brain is ready to take another hit. If you run around the block and get a headache and get dizzy, that means your brain is not ready for the next hit and then you’re subject to the serious consequences of another concussion because your brain has not recovered fully from the first one.

Ex-ESPN exec says “Stop denying brain damage“;  Continue reading

“League of Denial” (Part 2)

Coming to a bookstore and TV near you today is “League of Denial” a book and documentary about one of the dirty little secrets the NFL has been avoiding for some time.  Fortunately, I have been provided with advance copies of both; the Frontline film was easy to digest, as for reading a book, well we can just say I am trying to read as fast as possible.

I was reminded quickly, yesterday via Twitter, that I may lack valuable perspective when it comes to concussion information (and that I am not normal – this is not breaking news).  Will Carroll of Bleacher Report let me know that this information will be new to a lot of people out there.  He is exactly right, not only that, this documentary will be easily digestible for the fan of football.  For any person just wading into this, when you tune into PBS tonight to view “League of Denial” you will be absolutely hooked from the start.

The sounds of the crowd, visuals of big hits grab your football part of the brain IMMEDIATELY, over those sounds you will quickly discover the problem NFL players have faced with brain injuries playing their sport.  Harry Carson saying “and then they are gone” when talking about former players.  A bold statement that the level of denial was “just profound.”  An NFL lawyer saying “we strongly deny those allegations that we withheld information or misled the players.”  And more video and sound of punishing hits that used to fill the highlight reel bring the opening curtain of this very important documentary.

This problem is real – it’s not just real for the professionals – and from the get go Frontline makes you understand, vividly and personally, why this is.  After listening to old radio calls of the Steel Curtain it all begins with the story of Mike Webster and the forensic pathologist who studied his brain, Bennet Omalu.

The discovery of a possible reason one of the most respected and lauded players in Pittsburgh sports pantheon fell from grace and eventually found and early demise.  If the football portion of your brain does not connect to what is being presented then I would haphazardly guess that you are not ingrained within the fabric of football.

As Harry Carson explains how the game was played and to some extent how it’s still played you can begin to understand the issue at hand.  This is hammered home when Robert Stern, PhD tells the audience blows to the brain are at forces 20 times greater than the force of gravity (20 G’s); or as he so eloquently put it “driving into a brick wall at 35mph”, 1,000 times or more in a season.

In the first 11 minutes of this 2 hour presentation you are at full attention and want to understand the “whats”, “whys” and “whos”.  If you are not engaged and ready for further explanation I can only say that you don’t care or want to bury your head in the sand.

Contributions in the film include Continue reading

“League of Denial” (Part 1)

Coming to a bookstore and TV near you tomorrow is “League of Denial” a book and documentary about one of the dirty little secrets the NFL has been avoiding for some time.  Fortunately, I have been provided with advance copies of both; the Frontline film was easy to digest, as for reading a book, well we can just say I am trying to read as fast as possible.

In all honesty, if you have followed any part of this issue nothing revealed in either medium (thus far in the book) is seen as “BREAKING NEWS” rather an illustration of what has been happening with the research arm and policy makers of the National Football League, with regards to concussions.

“League of Denial” the Book:

In what I have been able to read thus far both Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada have done a good job of telling the hidden secret.  The Fainau’s went as deep as they possibly could without the help of the league itself, even as far as getting one of the original researchers to recount some of the possible misgivings in the past.

By utilizing the real stories of players that met an early demise (Mike Webster most notably) the information has an emotional connection with the reader.  While reading this you understand why this information may have been so valuable to the families and friends of those that could have been effected by repeated head trauma.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to tell you that repetitive brain trauma is bad for you, but the problem here is Continue reading

2013 Week 4 NFL Concussion Report

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

With the relatively low regular season number and usual scouring needed to find concussions being less cumbersome now we have had time to delve back into the preseason concussions.  We note that preseason numbers are not reliable, but having the concussions cataloged can tell us some interesting things.  Notably, we can look at the offense/defense split, the position and the number of players that were cut.  Although in most cases the reason for players being let go is strictly performance based, it is worth the notation.

In preseason there is a larger population of players, therefore we should expect higher numbers – one would think.  However, the majority of playing time goes to the reserves and those not secured on the roster, your “non-superstars” if you will.  Also we have noted in some cases from the past that the “better” players once getting a preseason concussion have no impetus to return to the field when the games don’t mean much.  For these reasons and others the preseason number of concussions is more of an abstract painting, if you will.

While examining the preseason concussions we were able to eliminate one from our previous reports, solidifying the preseason concussion at 54 rather than 55.  With that here are some of the findings: Continue reading

2013 Week 3 NFL Concussion Report

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

And the rise is beginning, in Week 3 we cataloged eight concussions thus far, bringing the total up to 21 for the season.  It is tough to predict for anyone but our extensive history of collecting the information tells us that single digit weeks are nearly coming to an end.  I say that with some reservation, as the numbers thus far have been well below what we have observed in the past.

Two players found two new ways to get on the Report, however they do represent concussions in NFL players.  First, Isaac Redman capitulated to having a concussion in Week 2 and playing though it.  Although, the Steelers are vehemently denying this occurred, we will take the word of the player in this case, after all they are the only ones who truly can tell someone if they had a concussion.

The second player is rookie linebacker Sio Moore of the Oakland Raiders, Continue reading

2013 Week 2 NFL Concussion Report

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).

It is early in the year but there are two things that strike me, already.  Mind you that it IS early I have not seen any “gaming of the system” to produce my observations.  This leads me to my first take from two weeks:

  • While watching the game and looking at Twitter/online there have been more in-game concussion evaluations publicized then the past three years.  Often I have heard/read “X player is being taken to the locker room for a concussion evaluation.”  This is indeed a good thing.  I don’t know if this was a directive from the league to make sure people know they are trying (I have asked in previous years to be as transparent as possible with this) but what this does in my mind is let people know this is the proper protocol for all levels.  Certainly there have been players returned to the game after passing the test, which I am fine with.  However, there has been a case of a player being removed, passed the test and then having symptoms on Monday, which is also understandable.

2013 Week 1 NFL Concussion Report

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).

So it begins, our fourth season of compiling a report on the NFL concussions.  We were the first to bring you this report and ones like it, but over the years it has evolved.  We feel that this listing is the best one can get outside of the league itself.  We are using a variety of data mining techniques such as (but not limited to);

  • NFL Official Injury Report – obviously the official listings, but not all are always on there.  Players only missing practice due to the injury or may not play will be listed.  This was a problem when we began in 2010 as players would be cleared on a Monday or Tuesday and not hit the OIR.  Recently, to the credit of the league, all players that have had a concussion disclosed have been listed.  Another issue with the OIR is that if a player had co-injuries often times both are not listed.  Finally, the OIR has been known not to list concussions otherwise listed in media.  An example of the possible confusion played out between week 1 and 2 of this year; Jeff Cumberland was reported to have been removed from a game due to concussion on twitter (then changed to “chin”) and reported as “chin” in the OIR.
  • CBS Sports NFL Injury List – often not that different from the OIR, but has at times listed injuries that have been “undisclosed” on the OIR.  This outlet also provides ideas of injuries before the official injury is listed on the OIR
  • Twitter – various sources are good at cataloging concussions, most notably is @nflconcussions.  However, the feeds of teams and reporters are used to clue us in on concussions.
  • Other sources – this would be inclusive of simple observation of a trained professional in concussions – Dustin Fink, MS ATC, Fink’s Rule, team sources and in some cases players themselves have been used by this method.  Again is the classic example of Jeff Cumberland in Week 1, video shows the MOI with the reaction/signs of the player on the field.  This leads us to include Jeff Cumberland in our numbers.

This report initially was released on Thursday, Continue reading

NFL Concussion Litigation Settled Out of Court

Twitter and my in box is exploding at this very moment…  The NFL and the players who have filed suit against the league have come to a settlement of $765,000,000, Judge Brody’s statement can be found HERE.  This works out to about $170,000/player or estate if there were only 4,500 plaintiffs (numbers are not clearly known).

This is a good thing for the league, and for some players this is well needed cash flow.  If the promise of establishing a better future with study and plans for players hold true it will be a great day.  But excuse me if I’m a bit reserved on the confetti and marching bands…

The 88 plan was supposed to be the answer, then the new Head Neck & Spine Committee, then the Mackey Council within the league (headed by Sean Morey).  There have been many band aids placed on this gashing wound before, perhaps just throwing money at it will clot it up?

Moreover, the fact that the NFL does not have to go through discovery in the litigation process makes those in Manhattan pop the champagne!

Doesn’t it seem a bit coincidental that this has come on the heels of the release of “The United States of Football” and the upcoming release of the Frontline (formerly co-partnered with ESPN)  “League of Denial“?

Perhaps I am skeptical, fine, but who has really won in this?

The United States of Football

I am staring blankly at this screen, in the dark listening to The Kyle Turley Band play “Final Drive”, trying to make sense of what I just watched.  There have been some great comments from some great people about this film by Sean Pamphilon;

The United States of Football is a passionate, unflinching, and eye-opening look at the concussion crisis in football.  Sean Pamphilon’s heartfelt concern for this issue is palpable, and the film reflects the trust he earned from many football players and families that have been tragically affected by C.T.E.”   (Steve James, director of “Hoop Dreams”)

“Pamphilon’s work is deep, fair, principled and haunting. He gives voice to the unheard, and that voice forces you to think, feel, fear and weep. His film is like the gladiators in it — uncommonly strong.”  (Dan LeBatard–sports personality)

“A compelling and revealing look at the most important issue facing the National Football League.”  (Bob Costas, broadcaster)

Even those do not do justice to what this film is.  Certainly, each person that sees this film – AND YOU SHOULD – will walk away with different takes, but there are some undeniable problems within the business of football.  The sport, at its core, remains beautiful and a test of mans will, Continue reading

That Time of Year Again

The NFL season starts on September 5 and you can be sure that soon all of the talk about brain injuries will focus on football; how do we make the game safer for the athletes, but still keep it the game that fans love (and will pay to watch)? Then there’ll be talk about the culture of the game and how it’s taught and coached at the youth level. Those questions, and other iterations of those themes, will be explored in the U.S. – definitely watch FRONTLINE: “League of Denial” – and maybe a bit in Canada, but the discussion won’t really get going in Canada until the NHL starts again. So from September to April (maybe June), national/international focus on brain injury is sifted through the major sports screen. In those 8-10 months, it’s sports, and virtually sports alone, that drive the discussion on brain injury. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that people are talking about it, but if brain injury seems to only happen to pro athletes with the very best in medical services to help them recover and the most pressing issue is how soon they can get back on the field or ice , then instead of increasing awareness of a serious injury, these discussions lessen the seriousness and the effect of these injuries to most people who are not privy to those medical services and who will likely need more than a few days or weeks to recover.

In my last post, Continue reading

There Is More Than Football

I know we all think of late August and early September as football season, but there are other sports out there that deserve some attention as well.  I do empathize with the football coaches that constantly tell me we are “picking” on that particular sport – we are not.  It is tough to overlook a sport that garners the most eyes and advertising around here.  That being said there are other sports either just starting, gearing up or in the final stretch that deserve note.

Baseball is grinding to the playoff push and under the radar is the fact that catchers are finally being honest about their heads.  Many have hit the DL this year for concussions, most recently Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins.  Certainly there have been others but it is worth noting that late in the season, seeing catchers develop concussions should not, nor will it be a surprise in the future.

Summer heat does not make one immediately think of ice rinks and hockey pucks, but Canada’s most popular sport will soon be getting into camp to prepare for the upcoming season.  When the puck does finally drop in early October (Go Avs!) the NHL looks to improve on their better handle on concussions.  But, the bigger reason for preparing for the hockey season is the upcoming Ice Hockey Summit II, held at the Mayo ClinicContinue reading

Old Coach Point of View

What I believe was at the same conference as the previous video by Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher; former coach Lloyd Carr speaks about concussions;

Coach Carr was the head football coach at the University of Michigan from 1995 – 2007, it is worth listening to this perspective.  Although coaches can be to blame for much of the “complaining” when it comes to the necessary changes in any sport as it relates to concussion, their input is very worthy.

We can sit in our offices and come up with “dream” ideas, but these are the men/women that must implement all the “bright” ideas.  There is something to be said for those that have “been-there-done-that”, so as long as it is both constructive and respectful.  I believe that Coach Carr did a good job of this.

A quick side note; this was in 2011 and he spoke of leading with the head, now the NCAA and NFL will possibly eject players for leading with the crown of the helmet (a very hot debate, and will be once the season begins).

Helmets Aren’t the Answer

So says a group of researchers from Wisconsin.  After gathering data on over 1300 football players the overall theme was that there was no correlation between expensive helmets and reduction of concussion incidence.  On first inspection the design of the study looks sound, especially since high school athletic trainers were involved, and the results appeared to be sound according to Timothy McGuine;

“We found the actual incidence of concussion was not more for players wearing the newest helmets versus wearing helmets 3, 4 or 5 years old,” McGuine said. “We also looked at [concussion] severity by helmet model. No difference there, either.”

This finding is absolutely logical based upon today’s helmet technology.  McGuine is correct the exterior shell has achieved its goal to a tune of 99.9999% – prevention of skull fractures – however, the issue of concussions is really something a helmet was/is not designed to combat.

Think about this; the brain rests within fluid inside your skull, the primary protection for our brain, thus allowing our “noodle” to move “freely” for everyday tasks like walking, running, jumping.  In fact, it is an amazing process Continue reading

Nick Mercer: Why we continue to see players play

Nick submitted this article prior to the Bryce Harper wall escapade but it would certainly fall into this opinion piece.

While I didn’t intend to write a post about brain injury in sport, I was inspired to write it based on some events in the NHL playoffs.  Since it’s not my point to dissect the danger of the two hits, I won’t spend much time on them. In fact, I’ll just share the links to the Gryba hit on Eller and the Abdelkader hit on Lydman. Seriously, whether I think either of those hits was clean or delivered with malicious intent is not, in any way, the basis or inspiration for this post. What is, is the idea that we – the North American contact sports-loving public – have all but abdicated our right to a free conscience. Whether either hitter was deserving of the suspension they have subsequently received, depends not on the hit they delivered, but on which team you cheer for (or against), or whether or not you like seeing big hits in hockey. It has nothing to do with what happened.

Some people don’t like where the NHL or NFL are heading; the frequency with which penalties are called when a player hits anywhere near an opposing player’s head. I don’t think that either of these two leagues, NHL and NFL, understand the concept of risk and reward. Hard hitting contact sports are so popular because they exhibit risk in a raw form. That’s probably why some/many of the athletes who make it to the highest levels get into the types of trouble they do. We watch news about multi-millionaire athletes who crash Porsches or who get arrested, and we may think “why would someone with so much to lose risk so much?” However, the athletes actually made logical (that doesn’t necessarily mean good) decisions. They do what all of us do before making most decisions. They, however briefly, look at their risk/reward histories plus their confidence Continue reading

A Chuckle and Video

I really don’t have much for this quote found in this article;

“I have a theory on concussions,” he said. “I think the reason there’s so much more of them — obviously the impact and the size of the equipment and the size of the player — but there’s another factor: everyone wears helmets, and under your skull when you have a helmet on, there’s a heat issue.

“Everyone sweats a lot more, the brain swells. The brain is closer to the skull. Think about it. Does it make sense? Common sense?” said Carlyle, who said he’d never talked to a doctor about his premise, which he was introduced to by Jim Pappin, the former Leaf who also played his career helmet free.

“I don’t know if it’s true, but that would be my theory. Heat expands and cold contracts. The brain is like a muscle, it’s pumping, it swells, it’s a lot closer to the outside of the skull.”

Stick to coaching hockey, eh!

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The ESPN article and video (click link or below) regarding the NFL Concussion Litigation; Continue reading

ESPN OTL Article Sparking Quite A Debate

On the surface this article may be innocuous to many, but the the minutia of concussion research and information is coming to a head very quickly, especially pertaining to the NFL.  Tomorrow is the first hearings in front of the judge – and the possibility of total dismissal – for the concussion law suits filed by thousands of former NFL players.

ESPN and its Outside the Lines department (in conjunction with Frontline) filed this article taking a look at two of the most prominent people in the concussion research/awareness arena, Dr. Robert Cantu and Chris Nowinski;

Two prominent concussion researchers — including a senior adviser to the NFL — served as paid consultants to law firms suing the league for allegedly concealing the link between football and brain damage, according to interviews and documents obtained by “Outside the Lines” and “Frontline.”

The article written by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada sheds light on the very issues the research community faces with this problem.  Some of this information can be classified as “not new” to people who participate in the constantly shifting arena of litigation and research, while some information can be deemed as scathing.  There is a very tight and ubiquitous line in this matter;

Researchers often are asked to appear as expert witnesses in legal proceedings related to their fields. The NFL suit, with the potential for billions of dollars in damages, has created a large demand for researchers with expertise in the science of concussions.

But some researchers said they have turned down such requests despite the potentially lucrative payoff out of concern the perceived conflict could compromise their research.

Conflict of interest (COI) is something we all need to pay attention to, although it applies to this current article, the COI in this field is rampant and often unchecked.  This is nothing new, players have talked about COI, other journalists have noted it, and one of our prominent commentators (Dr. Don Brady) on the site has even devoted some of his dissertation to COI.

It would seem this is nothing “new” in the world Continue reading

Anyone Want Money?

Basic RGBWell according to our comment section there are many of you out there looking for solutions; along with the efforts of established companies, like the helmet makers.  Now you can draw up and submit any ideas to the efforts of General Electric and the National Football League;

GE and the National Football League’s Head Health Challenge I aims to develop new solutions to help diagnose mild traumatic brain injury and invites proposals for scanning technologies and biomarkers that can accelerate growth. This four-year, $60 million partnership aims to improve the safety of athletes, members of the military and society overall.

The above is only step one, you have 111 days left to complete step 2;

We are seeking viable technologies for detecting early stage mild traumatic brain injuries at all stages of development for Challenge I. Ideas are welcome from all industries, organizations, and technical fields.

Visit the above linked website for further details and required forms.  I implore those that feel they have a technological solution to make the effort.  I will say this as candidly as possible; you cannot do it alone, you WILL and MUST have the resources and “blessings” of the NFL to get things done in the concussion effort.

Let’s Clear Something Up Here

On Twitter yesterday I commented on the words Jim Nantz spoke on “Face the Nation” regarding concussions (emphasis mine);

“[r]esearch shows that at the college level, a women’s soccer player is two and half times more likely to suffer a concussion than a college football player. I don’t hear anyone saying right now, ‘should we put our daughter in these soccer programs?'”

Huge props to Jason Lisk of bigleadsports, for doing the work of digging to find the information that Nantz used in the interview.  The long and short of Lisk’s adventure was that he could not find a specific connotation of such claims.  The 2007 article he cited in his wirte-up can be found here, Concussions Among United States High School and Collegiate Athletesvia nih.gov.  You can look and see what Lisk and myself see, football concussions occur more than female soccer concussions – except for an anomaly (very small one less 4%) – in college football and female college soccer.  Lisk also notes this was a 2007 study, although ancient in the realm of concussions, it is very solid and worth citing.

A repeat of the above study could not be found and probably should be done, however there are plenty of “concussion incidence” research in the high school sports.  Those can be found by simply going to ‘Google Scholar’ and defining your terms.  Here is a very good one regarding concussions alone, Marar et Al_ Epidemiology of Concussions, where the football vs. girls soccer numbers are; 6.4/3.4 (that is per 10,000 athlete exposures).  This is a 47% increase as compared between the two sports, almost two-time as likely.  More important is that this information was published a year ago, some of the freshest information out there.

Specifically Nantz was using collegiate soccer as his “trump card” in the case for football.  Not only is collegiate soccer a rare occurrence for those playing soccer, it is not nearly as populated as high school and youth soccer, where the concussion problem is WAY lower than football.

Not only was Nantz – and Limbaugh – spewing information that is both hard to find (no source) and outrageous to this author, it is completely irresponsible to even suggest that female soccer is more “dangerous” than football, in terms of concussions.

Here is my diatribe from twitter last night; Continue reading