Hit Count® Has Come To Fruition

Prevention of concussion is a bit of an oxymoron; nothing we know about concussions can stop them from occurring while in action.  HOWEVER, there is one way to prevent concussions – limiting exposure to the collisions that create a concussion.  Moreover, research suggests – as well as observations – that being exposed to subconcussive hits can have detrimental effects on brain function.  The subconcussive hits may even predispose someone to getting a concussion later on; this is obvious if you look at the data we have collected on NFL concussion over the past four years, (305 concussions in weeks 1-9 vs. 377 concussions in weeks 10-17) greater than a 20% increase as the season wears on.

Sports Legacy Institute has announced a certification program to further the Hit Count® initiative during a press release during Super Bowl week in New York City, today (along with the SLI Hit Count White Paper – see link below press release);

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Sports Legacy Institute Launches Hit Count® Certification Program in Collaboration with Leading Concussion Experts and Head Sensor Device Companies to Make Contact Sports Safer

Using Hit Count® Certified Products to Monitor and Minimize Brain Trauma Could Eliminate 500 Million Head Impacts in Football a Year, with the Goal of Reducing Risk of Concussion and Long-Term Brain Damage

New York City – January 27, 2014 – The non-profit Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) announced a major advance in the effort to prevent concussions and brain damage in contact sports today with the launch of the Hit Count® certification program after two years of development, which was unveiled at a press conference at the 2014 Super Bowl Media Center in New York City.

Hit Count® builds on the progress that head sensor device companies have made in developing devices that can measure acceleration of the head. Current products used on the field are focused on  alerting coaches, medical professionals, and parents when a potential concussive impact occurs.

Inspired by Pitch Counts baseball, which set limits to the number of times a player throws from the  mound to prevent arm injury, Hit Count® Certified Devices will have a second function that measures and “Counts” impacts that exceed the Hit Count® Threshold, set by a committee of  leading scientists, with the goal of minimizing brain injury.

“Research using sensor devices has revealed that each year in the United States, there are over 1.5 billion impacts to the heads of youth and high school football players,” said Chris Nowinski, Founding Executive Director of SLI who launched the Hit Count® initiative in 2012 with SLI Medical Director Dr. Robert Cantu. “Most hits are unnecessary and occur in practice. By utilizing  Hit Count® certified products as a teaching tool for coaches and a behavior modification tool for athletes, we can eliminate over 500 million head impacts next season.”

Committee member Gerry Gioia, PhD, of Children’s National Medical Center and Continue reading

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Series from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on CTE

Mark Roth of the Pittsburgh Post-Gaette put together an informational series on chronic traumatic encephalopathy; “a brain disease that afflicts athletes”.

In the first part that came out this past Sunday, Roth took a look at the global perception of CTE through the examples of Chris Henry and the possible case of still living Fred McNeill;

Chris Henry was a fleet wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals. During his five seasons with the team, he developed a reputation as a talented athlete on the field but a bad boy off it, even though those who knew him well say he was typically quiet and respectful. […]

Fred McNeill played 12 seasons for the Minnesota Vikings in the ’70s and ’80s. After retiring, he finished law school and became a successful attorney in Minneapolis, helping to win major class-action lawsuits.

Henry would end up dead after an accident that was predicated with some unusual actions by him, McNeill now has full-time care takers as dementia has stripped him of everything he worked hard for.

Roth begins the second piece with those that can be easily called the experts in this area, Bennet Omalu and Ann McKee; Continue reading

Former NFL Players Glad For Concussion Attention

If somebody from the other team had the football — or better yet, was about to catch it — McCoy’s own cerebellum told him to drive his helmet right through the poor fellow.Now, McCoy can’t drive home, can’t trust himself behind the steering wheel. Just staying between the white lines got too difficult. The blur was in his head.

Mike McCoy played for the Green Bay Packers and is currently 55 years old.  McCoy learned of his dementia issues three years ago at age 52 and has caught the attention of a fellow NFL alum, Willie Buchanon;

“Once you get away from the game, you realize, those little nicks and hiccups become a little more dramatic.”

Far more dramatic in some than others. A product of Oceanside High and San Diego State who closed out his career with the Chargers, Buchanon has kept close tabs on McCoy since they played in the same Green Bay secondary, and he’s seen the steady decline in his friend’s mental state.

Buchanon has also been deeply involved in the concussion issue as a by-product of being on the California State Athletic Commission.  The sport of boxing is commissioned by most State Athletic Associations and in order to box/base in each state there are rules regarding safety and injury.  One such rule deals with being knocked out in boxing;

“A football player getting a concussion is the same thing as a boxer getting knocked out,” Buchanon said. “In boxing, you couldn’t get back into the ring to even spar for 30 days. In the NFL, in our day, we turned around and played the next week.”

Chris Jenkins of The San Diego Union-Tribute uses this article Continue reading

National Geographic Article & Photo

Luna Shyr or National Geographic ran a story in the February edition titled “The Big Idea: Brain Trauma”, included in the article is information from the usual headliners; Guskiewicz and McKee.

Football draws as much attention lately for the knocks that players take as it does for their drives down the field. The emergence of research linking head collisions with behavioral and cognitive changes similar to those seen in Alzheimer’s patients puts the pummeling in a new context. Whether ramming opponents head-on or butting helmets, athletes may face the risk of long-term brain injury from hits accumulated over time.

Using the ever popular sport of football as the back drop, we get more information about the problems we have seen.  But included in the article and what you can see online, if you are not a subscriber is an image of a football player and the hits he sustained over an entire season (yellow indicates force less than 80 G’s, red above 80 G’s and black is a concussion).

A very good article with more visual evidence.  If you have not subscribed go and pick up a copy and read for your self.  If you are a subscriber you can read on beyond what is at the link.  Guskiewicz has this quote to end the “preview”

Guskiewicz envisions databases that track all the hits athletes take throughout their playing years to help explain neurologic changes later in life. But, he says, “it’ll probably be my grandchildren who are analyzing that data.”

Thank you to @ganglion11 (Jonathan Lifshitz, PhD) for directing us to NG….

Ann McKee, PhD of SLI and Wisconsin

Courtesy of Scott Stuart via Flickr

Principal researcher Ann McKee of the Sports Legacy Institute has been looking into CTE as we have posted about many times.  Now one of her alma maters, Wisconsin, has produced a narrative piece on her and her work since moving on.  It appeared in On Wisconsin, written by John Allen.

McKee probably has more experience examining CTE-ravaged brains than anyone else in the world, and her studies are starting to change the rules and even the culture of football and sports in America.

At the end of the article, John Allen quickly looked at how Wisconsin football is making changes.

The first stage, according to Johnson, is “brain rest.” The player is asked to cut back on all forms of activity — television, video games, or music, and, in serious cases, even classes — until all symptoms (such as amnesia, confusion, disorientation, headache, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, and light sensitivity) have disappeared. Then athletic trainers slowly increase the player’s activity.

Most striking and the take home message from this last quote is, “brain rest” and athletic trainers.

CTE Found as Contributing Factor

Another post on Owen Thomas and what researchers have found. 

As we discussed previously chronic traumatic encephalopathy was found by Ann McKee at Boston University.  This case is EXTREMELY unique on many levels.  First, Thomas was the first college aged individual to show CTE, secondly he was never diagnosed with a concussion.  However, being a lineman in football he was exposed to thousands of head hits throughout his career.

Here is a video with his mother and the full story found at bu.edu;

This particular topic of concussions will be more on the “front burner” as time goes on.