Certainly we are nearing a “too much” point in terms of concussion for most of the country. For others this is just the continuation of what we have been doing for years. From a personal perspective I do like the attention that the discovery process is getting. I am all for people getting all the info possible to make informed decisions.
I want to take this particular space in this post to assert that I am not – nor have I ever – been against any sport including football. I am, transparently, supporting flag and non-tackle football until high school. Yes, no scientific evidence proves this helps/hurts, but in all my work and research I am of the opinion that less dosage of repetitive brain trauma is better for humans.
That is where we stand, the issue really is one of repetitive brain trauma (RBT), not of sports or accidents or leisure activities. As Dr. Omalu clearly stated in his interview with Matt Chaney in 2011 and again today with Mike & Mike (hour 4); the brain does not heal itself. Damaging it, even on the microscopic level can and will leave a lasting impact. This is not just assumption, it is noted in many different studies regarding brain health after activities (see Purdue).
I am confident that with proper healing time and avoidance of re-injury the brain will find a way to function at or even better (proper learning and congnitive functioning) as people get older. The management of not only the “gross” injury of concussion and TBI is one that is getting better and as we get more research the management of the subconcussive hits and exposure, that too will be satisfactory.
What we all must do is take off the “emotional pants” and wade through the muck to find out what is important for us to make decisions for those that are not capable or even legal. Part of this is discourse and discussion (civil would be best). Everyone will be challenged intellectually and morally with this – it’s OK.
Irv Muchnick has been using his investigative nature to find out about the new movie “Head Games” based on the Chris Nowinski book and history. Although the use of alternate media is a wonderful thing and that this movie will at least bring more people to the discussion there are some peculiar things about at least the production and the producers that make one wonder.
Muchnick, who has turned over a new leaf and started to lean away from the ‘nuclear option’ of banning the sport of football period to a more incremental – albeit very conservative incremental (however he does deserve credit for adjusting his train of thought) – approach to limiting tackle football for youth. However the bulldog that he is, Muchnick has uncovered some interesting tidbits on the new movie, currently he is in Part 5;
The principal funder of the new documentary film Head Games is Steve Devick, a billionaire music and technology entrepreneur, who co-invented and is marketing a sports sideline concussion tool called the King-Devick Test.
On the virtual eve of the first preview screening of the movie in Chicago – originally billed as a “red carpet premiere,” now called a “private sneak peek” – Continue reading →
This is not a “nuclear” question or statement, it is an observation – brought to the forefront by Irv Muchnick of BeyondChron. Irv has the ability to write and raise questions that many do not want to address nor face, but he does make you think if you take the time to read. As I heard a wise man once tell me; “read and listen to all sides even if you don’t agree”. There are many reasons for this I have gathered over time, but the most important is that others seem to provoke more thoughts and further information.
Today Irv posted an editorial about how he thinks our children are now the subject of trial and error in the realm of concussions;
The toothpaste of “concussion awareness” is out of the tube, oozing like spinal fluid. When all the solutions have been implemented and (mostly not) paid for, more or less the same critical mass of bad outcomes will happen anyway. These include, silently, insidiously, the killing of brain tissue over time. And if I happen to be exaggerating a tad, who among us really want to volunteer their sons for the next generation of guinea pigs in the “control groups” of NFL-underwritten “peer-reviewed literature”?
Yes, football promotes some good values, such as teamwork and community. So does Continue reading →
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and its concussion program have released what they think is a new model to predict how long each individual may take to recover. Lead researcher on this topic is Dr. Micky Collins who stated in a press release that this information is a “game changer”.
The study involves the ImPACT neurocognitive testing platform (developed by UPMC) and its results two days after injury. Although the actual score has not been released publicly; it will appear in the next issue of Neurosurgery. The benefits of such a specific diagnostic indicator would be tremendous for a lot of interested parties.
At the end of the press release/story Dr. Collins indicated something that is similar to what we posted yesterday; “Eighty percent of concussed people recover inside of three weeks.”
This information is all well and good but I would like to speak to some initial “wait a second” thoughts I have regarding this study; Continue reading →
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. “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.
Irv Muchnick writes for BeyondChron and for his website ConcussionInc.net about the concussion issue facing sports today. What began in WWE wrestling for Irv has migrated to the mainstream sports. Below is an excerpt from the introductory article about his new e-book titled “UPMC Concussion Scandal Ground Zero”.
Another major North American sport, hockey, now faces its perfect storm with the second and, for all we know permanent, sidelining of its greatest and most athletically artistic star – Sidney Crosby, his generation’s answer to Wayne Gretzky. Had Gretzky, in the 1980s, been disabled long-term or for good by concussions, then the National Hockey League either would be vastly smaller-time today or would not exist at all. It is impossible to calculate the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket sales, rights fees, and merchandise revenue that the loss of Crosby might mean for the contemporary NHL.
During the continentally televised Winter Classic game on January 1, 2011, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Crosby was concussed by a shoulder Continue reading →
Irvin Muchnick is a writer and investigative journalist who previously mainly focused on the WWE. Muchnick has changed gears a bit and started Concussion Inc, a website focusing on the brain injury issue.
In a finding that exposes just how aggressively, misleadingly, and perniciously ImPACT concussion management software is being marketed, Concussion Inc. has uncovered ImPACT and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center documents advising potential purchasers that not even baseline neurocognitive tests are needed in order to safely use their expensive, for-profit product.
I will freely admit that early on I truly believed that the need for a baseline was secondary due to the wealth (or lack there of) of information regarding normative data. Normative data can be useful for a myriad of issues but I have since corrected my thinking and fully understand that a baseline test is needed for proper clinical evaluation of a concussion. It could be a baseline for balance or the SAC or the combination of the two; the SCAT2. If you don’t have information about the injured brain prior to injury how would one truly know where he/she stands? In the case of not getting baseline information on an athlete (which can be as subjective as knowing the individual) there is nothing to refer to for return to activity other than the patients subjective responses. Continue reading →
There is one person in the media that can be classified as the pioneer of “concussion coverage”, his name is Alan Schwarz. Since roughly the mid-2000’s Schwarz has been on the beat of national stories involving concussions. He was recently nominated for a Pulitzer for his work in the area and now he has moved on. According to Irv Muchnick, Schwarz’s title has changed to “national education reporter.”
I echo the sentiments of Muchnick; Schwarz opened up the national dialogue on concussions, he is one of the main reasons people have begun to pay attention. Just think without him and the New York Times we may have never heard about Chris Nowinski, Bennet Omalu, the Boston University Brain Bank, etc. No matter where anyone stands on the current protocols/research/assessment for concussions, A LOT of this discussion should be attributed to Alan Schwarz.
To be honest it was a huge “bucket list” goal that I was quoted in a Schwarz article Continue reading →
Irvin Muchnick is a writer and investigative journalist who previously mainly focused on the WWE. Muchnick has changed gears a bit and started Concussion Inc, a website focusing on the head injury issue.
Like sex crimes, concussions are no longer a dirty secret. The lion’s share of the credit for this goes to Chris Nowinski of the Sports Legacy Institute and Alan Schwarz of the New York Times. This year will feature the stories of players who resist rushing back to action after head injuries. How that shakes out in public perception and for their careers is worth a closer look than how close Asomugha creeps to the line of scrimmage on “bump-and-run” coverage.
Irvin Muchnick is a writer and investigative journalist writing focusing mainly on the WWE. Muchnick has been heavily involved in the concussion issue in the WWE and its crossover as well.
Irv has written two articles in succession that take a look at the concussion issue and the NFL. In the first Muchnick examined the recent (March 2010) change in title of the NFL “head and neck committee”;
In March 2010 the NFL’s concussion policy panel, called the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, got a new name and new co-chairs. Now known as the Head, Neck and Spine Medical Committee, it is jointly chaired by Dr. H. Hunt Batjer, of Northwestern Memorial Hospital outside Chicago, and Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Batjer and Ellenbogen replaced the disgraced Dr. Ira Casson and Dr. David Viano, who in turn had replaced the disgraced Dr. Elliot Pellman.
Though Batjer and Ellenbogen promised to sweep out the Augean stable of league head injury custodians, they have done nothing of the sort. For example, Dr. Joseph Maroon, whose corrupt involvement in this sordid history has been extensively documented by me, remains on the committee.
And in July the two new co-chairs reversed a commitment not to release an ambiguously worded NFL helmet safety study with limited or no value for the broader universe of amateur helmet consumers. In the good coverage of this narrow issue by The New York Times’ Alan Schwarz, Ellenbogen explained that he decided the study was OK “as long as statements were phrased very carefully.” Congressman Weiner blasted this “disturbing step backwards.”
More emphasis has been put on head trauma in the NFL, but I believe that Irv is merely exposing the slow process of “reform change” when it comes to brass tacks. Although changing a stigma will not happen overnight, it can happen much quicker Continue reading →
Irvin Muchnick is a writer and investigative journalist writing focusing mainly on the WWE. Muchnick has been heavily involved in the concussion issue in the WWE and its crossover as well.
Irv has been and will continue to be looking at how the media and other entities cover the concussion issue. Recently he has taken a close look at the New York Times and Alan Schwarz as it relates to concussions (LINK);
An examination of the Newspaper of Record’s coverage over the last six months suggests that the answer is it is leading us to a world made safe for the National Football League and its $9-plus billion in annual revenues.
Pay plenty of lip service to the alleged mental health toll for the thousands upon thousands of professional and amateur athletes employed by the NFL or in its orbit – but also make sure all the opinion-making honor and Continue reading →
In sports, as in everything, we love our scandals served on a tabloid plate: the jock DUI’s, the strippers taunted with $100 bills, the sexting, the dog-fighting rings, and most recently, the “amateur” football players for whom the National Collegiate Athletic Association prohibition against “extra benefits” turns out to cover not just cars but also tattoos.
What we don’t enjoy so much is contemplating life and death. That is why the sports-industrial complex can succeed in feeding the public appetite for the concussion pandemic by substituting pablum for information. Most of us just want this thing to go away, and the National Football League and its circle of friendly media have devised an easy way out: state legislation making youth football “safer” – with the assistance of a “solution” that, it just so happens, was packaged and sold by NFL doctors.
The underlying theme is that the NFL doctors are distancing themselves from independent researchers that have put holes into the neurocognitive testing and management of concussions. The most prominent name is Dr. Benett Omalu; Continue reading →
UPDATE: Thanks to commenter @SpMedConcepts I should write that one test is just a piece to the puzzle. And a comprehensive testing procedure that includes all of the available “baselines” and assessments should be used. It becomes more difficult to cloud the picture with deception when using this approach.
Knowing about concussions is one thing, but knowing that players may take advantage of the system is another factor. Like anything else in this world people will look to exploit weaknesses in systems to gain an advantage. After all isn’t that the crux of competition and sports? We have seen Irv Muchnick open up the dialogue on Ritalin as a possible way to “cheat the system” and now Alex Marvez of Fox Sports tells us the other, more obvious way to “cheat the system”;
Dr. Daniel Amen, who has treated current and former players for post-concussion symptoms, said some of his clients have confessed to fudging the initial baseline tests administered by NFL teams. By doing so, Amen said those players are seeking quicker clearance to return from any future head injuries they might suffer.
If the baseline tests are to be used to compare then why try hard and excel at them, only to have that first test hinder their return? This is the common question that the professional and adolescent athletes are dealing with. Even though baseline tests, be it neurocognitive computer based or hand written like the SCAT2 or the new NFL test, are objective Continue reading →
Irv Muchnick has been through a lot in digging up information about head trauma, steroids, and other issues related to what he terms “the cocktail of death” in pro wrestling. However, the seemingly endless roadblocks has not stopped him from great fact-finding in an effort to make the issue of head injuries, in particular CTE transparent.
In his latest letter to me last year threatening to sue me for my reporting, World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt pointed out that Dr. Bennet Omalu’s study of dead wrestler Chris Benoit’s brain was not published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal until 2010, and then only in “an obscure nursing journal.” See “New Threats From WWE Lawyer Jerry McDevitt,” December 17, 2010, http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/new-threats-from-wwe-lawyer-jerry-mcdevitt/.
After wading through all difficulties he has found and praised Neurosurgery for their restructuring including changing editor-in-chief;
However, I understand that Oyesiku was named to replace Dr. Michael Apuzzo as editor of Neurosurgery with a mandate that included reversing the journal’s perception as a de facto NFL house organ for academic articles answering loaded questions, which in turn served the commercial interests of the league and its contract doctors and business partners. Apuzzo, a consultant for the New York Giants, had overseen the publication of a decade’s worth of controversial studies on aspects of brain trauma in sports – including the 2006 article on the Riddell helmet manufacturer’s new design, which was co-authored by the company’s chief engineer and by Pittsburgh Steelers team neurologist and imPACT software entrepreneur Dr. Joseph Maroon, and is now the focus of a Federal Trade Commission probe of Riddell’s allegedly misleading promotional claims.
Apparently Dr. Bennet Omalu’s third study of a professional football player (Mike Webster and Terry Long being the first two) about Andre Waters Continue reading →
Irvin Muchnick is a writer and investigative journalist writing focusing mainly on the WWE, writing a book titled “Chris and Nancy: The true story of the Benoit murder-suicide and pro wrestling’s cocktail of death.” Muchnick has been heavily involved in the concussion issue as it relates to WWE and its crossover as well. Some have claimed that Muchnick may be pressing an issue that is not there, but he has had the ability to delve into certain areas of the concussion issue. He has provided some good contacts as well as information in his own unique way. Today on his blog he ran a couple of quick posts relating to concussions.
The first is about a LA writer and his Riddell helmet story;
In what is basically a promo for Riddell helmets, Farmer doesn’t get around to mentioning that Riddell is currently under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly exaggerating the safety claims in NFL-funded research at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, as published by the journal Neurosurgery in an article co-authored by Dr. Joseph Maroon, a doctor for both the Pittsburgh Steelers and World Wrestling Entertainment.
Asked for comment, Farmer emailed back, “Thanks for your information. Be well.”
The second takes an open look/question about how the Journal of Neurosurgery as it relates to the concussion issue; Continue reading →