DYK Helmets Do Not Stop Concussions: An article that must get traction

I can tell you there is more coming on this issue – from here and other platforms – but this Regressing (part of Deadspin) article really needs to be highlighted here for those seeking accurate concussion information.  I would be remiss if I didn’t – virtually – give Kyle Wagner a “good game” for writing a beauty!

‘Hockey’s About To Get The Bullshit “Anti-Concussion Helmet” Treatment’ appeared 7/23/14, here are some great excerpts.

Lets begin with the opening salvo;

Virginia Tech thinks hockey helmets are bullshit, which is more or less true. In turn, it wants to look at the differences between hockey’s helmets and football’s recently evolved versions, and bring the concussion-stopping advances to hockey. This is pretty much bullshit.

Then the all-important – simplistic – overview of the concussion process (emphasis mine);

The brain floats suspended by fluids in the skull, and when it suffers concussion, it both smacks into the inside of your skull and incurs rotational force, irreparably damaging the brain stem.

Why we wear helmets;

Helmets, meanwhile, are there to protect your skull from fracturing in the impact of a collision. They provide this protection, and the best helmets have interior mechanisms that can offer some small aid in decelerating a collision.

A wonderful note in the article, that may be glossed over by most readers, but it very peculiar to many of ‘us’ in the know and actually understand/grasp both the concussion injury and the statistics that are thrown out about them;

If the above numbers seem low to you—a combined 64 concussions for eight college football teams over six seasons, or just about 1.3 per team per season—then you’ve likely read enough to have seen players talking about getting their “bell rung” often enough that those Virginia Tech numbers wouldn’t just represent a decrease in risk by half, but exponentially. If the available data say anything, it’s that they are hugely incomplete.

Further on the above excerpt, 1.3 concussions for AN ENTIRE TEAM for AN ENTIRE SEASON is just asinine, Continue reading

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Comments About Wagner/Deadspin Article

The comments on this blog have been on point but I was able to find some other very informed comments regarding the information provided in the Deadspin article via Football Outsiders;

by MJK :: Thu, 06/21/2012 – 6:46pm

Interesting article, but there’s some things in it that are decidedly wrong, and others that are completely ridiculous. The idea that increasing intracranial pressure through trapped blood accumulation could somehow “cushion” the brain and reduce the impact force of the brain as it “sloshes” in side the skull was obviously dreamed up by someone that has no grounding in biomechanics whatsoever. First, many head “mild” injuries (the ones that don’t involve skull fracture or haematoma) occur because of rotation of the head, not linear impacts, and suppressing brain motion relative to the skull won’t do a thing to help that. Secondly, CSF is essentially water from a physical response standpoint–and if you have an object floating in water, increasing the pressure in the water doesn’t do a single thing cushion the object floating in it.

The other major issue that I can see is, based on the doctors and biologists I’ve talked to, the accumulation of tau protein associated with CTE can take a minimum of many months, and more generally several years, to occur after the head traumas that triggered it. Also, apparently once you hit a critical threshold level of tau buildup, it becomes self propagating, even if you don’t have any additional head trauma. So monitoring the increase in tau protein wouldn’t be a good way to decide when to hang up the cleats…you could quit when you were still at a “healthy” level, it could take a couple of years to accumulate more, hit the threshold, and you could still end up with early onset of dementia or other lasting brain injury.

The article also touches briefly on, but glosses over, an alternative diagnosis technique that does show promise…diffusion tensor imagine MRI. Although poorly understood, there’s some really promising research about using it to track the biomechanical insults that could lead to long term tau protein buildup.

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by akn :: Thu, 06/21/2012 – 7:25pm

This entire article sounds like the author took the researchers’ grant proposal and Continue reading

In Case You Missed It…

Last week I tweeted about a story on Deadspin.  It was a very well written article, one that should make us hopeful and fearful at the same time; at the very least it is thought-provoking.  Even after reading it several times I still feel that Kyle Wagner absolutely did everyone a service by publishing this piece;

The question, after a decade of brain-slicing autopsies, is when any of this will help players before they’re dead. Doctors can’t just crack open living patients’ skulls and lop off slices of their brains to stick under a microscope.

But new research at UCLA is using a cutting-edge biomarker that can attach itself to tau protein tangles so that they show up on PET scans of living subjects. Dr. Gary Small is currently running a pilot study on retired NFL players, imaging their brains in place. If he is successful, his work would reorient the science of head injuries around saving lives instead of merely contextualizing deaths.

“I’ve always sort of thought of tau imaging as the holy grail on the issue of chronic brain damage, especially CTE,” said Dr. Julian Bailes, one of the founders of the Brain Injury Research Institute (BIRI).[…]

PET imaging tech is half a century old, and though FDDNP is relatively new, it’s still been around for years. So it’s strange to think about the marker being on the cutting edge of a fairly recently discovered brain disease. If the marker can find and pinpoint CTE, why hadn’t anyone tried it before now? And for that matter, why isn’t it already in use?[…] Continue reading

White Paper

Sometime today Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), headed by Dr. Robert Cantu and Chris Nowinski are going to release a “white paper” that will “plan to spread successful NFL policy changes to all youth sports,”  this according to Irvin Muchnick via his blog Concussion Inc.

What is a white paper?  Glad you asked it is important for context (via Wikipedia);

A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions, and may be a consultation as to the details of new legislation. The publishing of a white paper signifies a clear intention on the part of a government to pass new law. White Papers are a ” … tool of participatory democracy … not [an] unalterable policy commitment.[1] “White Papers have tried to perform the dual role of presenting firm government policies while at the same time inviting opinions upon them.”

It is mentioned that along with SLI, Boston University’s Center for the Study of Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy (headed by Dr. Ann McKee) will be in the white paper as well.

I will be interested to see what exactly they are Continue reading

Is Hearing Them Cheer for You too Much to Concede to Concussion?

Conceding, rather the inability to concede is one of the traits high level athletes have in common.  The dive to succeed and be the best at all costs is what makes some better than others; it makes teams champions.  This quality is also what has put the concussion issue at the forefront.  Blinded by the ‘need’ to overcome and win/perform injuries are often an after thought; this cannot be the case with concussions.

As I was reading one of my favorite sites I came across an article put together by Sean Conboy.  The article was rerun from The Classical and below are some excerpts as to why hearing your name cheered on keeps the mind clouded;

Despite a stunning last-minute loss to Baltimore, Harrison was elated after the game. Things were different. There was an unfamiliar silence in his head, and his cranium did not ache like a mother****er. He was so comfortable, in fact, that, according to the release, “Mr. Harrison called Rob Vito, UNEQUAL’s CEO, to thank him for putting UNEQUAL CRT™ in his helmet, proclaiming it was the first time he did not experience post-game head pain or ringing in his ears.” In seven years.

James Harrison admitted to having symptoms after almost every game, which is not surprising given his propensity to lower and use his head a weapon.  Tell me again why he feels that he was “wronged” Continue reading

Deadspin Takes on Scholarships and Concussions

Emma Carmichael of Deadspin.com wrote an article about how schools have, and in the future will, handle the scholarships of players who have to “retire” due to concussions.  Emma highlighted the cases of the four players in the past year that have had to call it careers, with the catalyst being Steven Threet of Arizona State.

But concussions can’t be planned around graduations. And at some point soon, thanks in large part to the bad incentives created by the NCAA’s one-year, renewable scholarship, an athletic department somewhere will have to choose between expediency and simple humanity, and an athlete somewhere else will have to choose between his scholarship and his health.

There is no legal obligation for the Universities/Colleges to maintain the financial aid given to the student-athlete.  In reality if the institutions were to pull the scholarship the message would be clear; football is more important Continue reading