Now what?

So I turn 32 today. It’s kind of a non-age. In my mind, 33 is a bit of a milestone, 30 is an obvious milestone, but 32, that’s nothing. Of course, I couldn’t care less either way. Age means very little to me now, but I guess this is as good a day as any for me to reminisce/write about the past 9 years (8 years and 9 months, actually) and where I am now.

I’m fairly surprised about how happy I am now and how good I feel. On this day 9 years ago, I was with a friends in London, ON, on a inter-term break from my Master’s program (in Public Administration – MPA) from the University of Victoria. The next day, I would get picked up in Toronto and would get a ride  to the Ottawa River, near Cobden, to go whitewater rafting for the weekend (along with about 15 more friends). Good times!

I then went back to Victoria for term 2 of my MPA program and I continued training for triathlon, a sport I tried for the first time in January of that same year. Three months later, I crashed into a tree and my life changed.

When we were rafting/bouncing our way Continue reading

The Concussion Tipping Point

In The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, he notes that there are 3 rules of epidemics (in this case, the galvanizing of support for concussion awareness/understanding): 1) the Law of the Few, 2) the Stickiness Factor, 3) the Power of Context. Concussions and all brain injury are issues that need to become epidemics to gain any real level of support. Support that is now seriously lacking. I will try to apply each of these 3 rules to concussion/brain injury understanding and awareness.

1) The Law of the Few. Gladwell talks about a Paul Revere’s midnight ride and further breaks down this rule into 3 parts (Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen). It seems to me that telling people they need to know learn something or they should support something, inevitably spawns a level of resentment, however subconscious this is and however well-meaning someone is to a cause. Guilt is not a sales technique that will keep people interested and it doesn’t encourage people to spread the message. With the huge sports media and others constantly bringing up the issue, concussions have been a prevailing issue in hockey and football, Continue reading

Crosby has patience, what about the sports media?

It was really exciting seeing Crosby score his first (and second) goal and play so well the entire night!

One thing that many in the sports media overlook, however, is the importance of fatigue with brain injury. I don’t know how much fatigue has effected Crosby, but I would caution them that even though he can play well, with lots of energy for a game or a few games, there could very well be days when his body kind of shuts down or doesn’t react as quickly as he’d like. Before the hockey commentators anoint him scoring champion, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him miss a game or two based on fatigue or other concussion symptoms.
This is by no means a medical assessment, Continue reading

Lucic hit on Miller: Penalize or Punish?

I was at the game in Boston on Saturday, November 12, 2011, so I saw the play in which Milan Lucic crushed goalie Ryan Miller. Immediately there was a quick groan in the crowd around me. My friends know the seriousness of major strikes to the head better than most people, so they could see how bad the hit was and how much it could affect Miller.

After the immediate shock of the hit, the crowd went crazy. There was long and sustained loud cheering for Lucic and jeering of the Buffalo players for their reaction. There was also intense booing of the 2 minute penalty assigned to Lucic for the hit. This was followed by equally intense cheering as Milan Lucic was celebrated in a video shown on the scoreboard screen, profiling his big hits and physical style of play. It seemed the fans couldn’t be prouder. Of course, there is a whole separate debate among hockey players and media about goalies being able to play a puck outside of their respective, claustrophobic creases.

The referees didn’t assign a larger penalty because Continue reading

Observations: Nick Mercer

I watch Jersey Shore. I am neither proud nor ashamed of that. I just watch it. I doubt I’d watch it the same way if I hadn’t done a biology degree. Everything from examining ecosystems and watching vigilance behaviour to detailing the lives of fruit flies was based on objective observation. It is with that eye of an unimpassioned observer that I tend to watch any reality show, especially those shows that are trying to depict life in an ‘open’ environment. It’s fairly obvious that, although not scripted, Jersey Shore takes place in a well controlled, or at least well influenced environment. The Situation (Mike) – a nickname he seemingly gave himself – recently slammed his head into a wall. Purposefully I might add!

He went to hospital,was diagnosed with whiplash, given a foam neck brace and told to lay low for a week (not go out to clubs – a near nightly occurrence on the show). The Situation was never a favourite member of the house; he always drew attention and animosity to himself. He is also depicted as being aggressive, arrogant and naive. About to get into a fight, he got himself riled up and threw his head into the wall. After the shock and concern about his immediate well-being had subsided Continue reading

Post-concussion symptoms, see concussion symptoms

I was brain injured in 2003 while cycling in Victoria, BC. Concussions are also known as mild traumatic brain injuries and while what I sustained was a coma-inducing severe traumatic brain injury, from what I hear, and what makes sense to me, there seem to be many overlapping symptoms. I read about how Marc Savard has “post-concussion” symptoms and I’m really wondering why they call them post-concussion symptoms and why I always say ‘I was brain injured’. I guess the major traumatic blow to my head  is a thing of the past, so, on a technicality, I can get away with saying “was brain injured”, but plain logic is enough to tell you that you don’t have symptoms from an injury that doesn’t exist. I still have major symptoms and even though you can’t see my injury just by looking at me today, doesn’t mean that my brain has completely healed. Some parts of my brain seem unaffected, but Continue reading

Progressively still

Frontline recently re-broadcast a documentary about concussions that it had done in April. The story revolved around a football team from a private high school in Arkansas. The Shiloh Christian program was used primarily as a backdrop for the central theme: the intensity, pressure and the resulting disregard of health issues – notably concussions – in high school football in the US.

It was interesting – and kind of disturbing – to see how easy it is for coaches, parents, players, to convince themselves that the ubiquitousness of the basic football mantra of ‘hit hard, hit often’ somehow destined them to a football player assembly line to produce the same product as everyone else. Like there was nothing they could do but keep hitting as forcefully and as frequently as they could.

Football players in the US, the really good ones anyway, Continue reading

TCB Contributor Speaks

Nick Mercer a contributor of The Concussion Blog and author of ConcussionTalk was recently in Newfoundland giving a talk about recovery from concussions.  He was part of Newfoundland and Labrador Brain Injury Association meeting.  We value what Nick has to say and feel that if you have time you should view the following videos (3 parts).  And visit his blog for the videos of Dr. Falah Maroun, neurosurgeon.

PART I

Continue reading

Concussion Talk Post

Nick Mercer of concussiontalk.com posted this today and asked that I share it.  You should head over there for further discussion.

This clip in which he gives an update on his condition is very good education not only for younger hockey players, but for anyone interested about the effect a concussion has on athletes (especially those as competitive and talented as Sidney Crosby) – it’s 9 minutes long, but he describes the way he feels, the seriousness of the injury and the general confusion surrounding concussions. To anyone who has had a concussion or another type of brain injury, his description makes sense, to most others, it doesn’t.

The NHL and Sidney Crosby have an excellent education opportunity right now. Younger athletes and contemporaries alike can see the importance with which the NHL is treating concussions.