McKee: Unpopular Changes Needed In Football

Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University was at a one day symposium about brain injuries discussing the effects of repetitive injuries to the head.  Dr. McKee has been on the forefront of the chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) research has information that has changed her perception of the sport of football in particular (via Chicago Sun Times and Tim Cronin).

“It’s scary because we know so many people it’s affecting,” said McKee, a doctor of pathology at Boston University and the keynote speaker at Advocate Christ Medical Center’s one-day symposium on brain injuries. “You see so many individuals in the prime of life, both in the military and former athletes, people who are our heroes, struggling with life.”

Over a ten-year career she surmises that a linebacker may sustain 15,000 sub-concussive hits; those hits that do affect the brain but do not produce instant symptoms consistent with a concussion.  That is fifteen THOUSAND hits, hits that are similar to a low-speed vehicle accident.  The forces being produced are doing some damage in the brain, and the collective damage is causing problems that linger later into life; such as CTE and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  To completely discount a “professor/doctor” because they don’t know sports would be wrong in Dr. McKee’s case; Continue reading

Telander Is Right

Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun Times has written some good articles on the issue of concussions and head trauma, as it relates to sports.  In a recent article, post Super Bowl, he wrote about the undercurrent of head injuries in the NFL;

But if you can hack through the noise and pseudo-symbolism of our favorite billion-dollar, entertainment-driven sport, what you will hear, still softly drumming, is the danger of head trauma.

Yes, there has been a lot of talk of late about brain injury caused by sport. But the danger hasn’t vanished just because it has been labeled.

Pros are pros. And it could be argued that grown men have the right to risk their own health. As Steelers receiver Hines Ward, who had seven receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s big game, said, ‘‘It’s my body. I feel like if I want to go back out there, I should have the right.’’

He was talking about what a player should be allowed to do after suffering a concussion.

Hines’ logic is debatable, but it’s not the point here.

He went on further to discuss our leading cause here, the adolescent brain Continue reading

ALS and Concussions

A research study delved into the association of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease and head injury, more specific brain trauma.  Boston University and the VA published such information in Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology.

The New York Times (and you guessed it Alan Schwarz) posted about this research on August 17, 2010 and wrote the following;

Doctors at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, Mass., and the Boston University School of Medicine, the primary researchers of brain damage among deceased National Football League players, said that markings in the spinal cords of two players and one boxer who also received a diagnosis of A.L.S. indicated that those men did not have A.L.S. They had a different fatal disease, doctors said, caused by concussion like  trauma, that erodes the central nervous system in similar ways.

The Chicago Sun Times and their Soccer Blog wrote about the same thing on September 22, 2010, but how it has affected soccer players;

The findings could shed light on the increased incidence of ALS in contact sports. An Italian study of 7000 professional soccer players from 1970 to 2002 showed 18 of them diagnosed with ALS The study showed Serie players were seven times more susceptible than the non-playing population.

This is a serious issue and important finding, as the life long effects of concussions have yet to be fully discovered, in fact a lot has yet to be discovered on the frontier of the brain.

Concussion Editorial

From Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun Times.

Clearly, nobody is in favor of brain trauma. The problem is the safeguards and preventative measures needed to protect all who might be head-injured playing football could bankrupt most child and adolescent programs.

It might surprise you to know this, but according to a study by University of Illinois kinesiology professor Steven P. Broglio, high school football head impacts exceed those at the college level. Why is not known, though the disparity in size and development of the players seem to be factors. But it shows you for sure that even pencil-necked kids will lay the lumber.