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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Patrick Hruby Article That Has Everyone Talking

OK, maybe not everyone but it has struck a chord with many people I know.  Hruby writes a long form piece on making a choice about letting your son/daughter play tackle football at a young age.  Sure he has been critical on football for a few years now, but this article is very informative and somewhat balanced on both sides.

I am writing this post not to steal his work, rather have it here for posterity sake and include one very interesting quote.  This is what I believe to be the most applicable (for the audience) when it comes to concussion management and assessment (emphasis added by me);

“If I said that one in 10 middle schools has an athletic trainer, I’d probably be overestimating,” Guskiewicz says. “Having a trainer isn’t going to prevent every injury or solve every problem. But it’s important. Some people say this is extreme, but I think that at the high school level, if you can’t afford to hire a certified athletic trainer, then you shouldn’t field contact sports at your school.

The root cause of concussions is not sports or football, it is simply life.  They happen everywhere; from cabinet doors, to staircases, perhaps headboards, bicycles, trampolines, etc.  To avoid inherent conflicts of interest there needs to be a sole person or persons that have it as their job to keep kids/athletes safe.  We could always do what has been done before and rely upon the coach, but that seems to not be working out too well (conflict of interest).  As a buddy of mine, dad once said; “if you always do what you always did, you will always be what you have always been.”  There needs to be change.  I cannot think of a better point that having athletic trainers to do the work they are educated and trained to do: keep athletes safe.  Yes, there are way more good coaches than bad, but why not give the man/woman some help with medical advice and injury care?  Don’t they have a job to do of coaching a team/individual?

 

 

Two Excellent Researchers Discussion Concussions

If you get the chance you should take the time to read the research that has been done by David Hovda, PhD and Kevin Guskiewicz, PhD, ATC; not only is it good information but it has been some of the leading information.  These two gentleman do a great job of explaining the issues and making them more tangible for everyone.

On September 6th, both Hovda and Guskiewicz had a real-time chat about concussions on ScienceLive;

ScienceLive, Science magazine’s weekly web discussions with experts in various fields, will examine the issue of sports- and combat-related head injuries during a web chat at 3 p.m. Eastern today. Guests include Kevin Guskiewicz of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and David Allen Hovda, the Director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center.

You can click the link above to go and read the replay of the chat, a must for those looking for information and would be a good idea if you have kids playing sports now.  Below are selected comments from the chat; Continue reading

Pop Warner Changes

It is about time someone took a proactive step in football.  The sport is not the sacred cow everyone thinks it is; football is touchable by the courts and deep pockets, it is “when” not “if” when it comes to disruption of the sport.  However Pop Warner football actually took a very bright and forward step in limiting contact for its players;

Pop Warner is limiting contact in practice as part of an effort to reduce players’ risk of concussion. Pop Warner’s medical advisory board made the announcement this week.

Under the new regulations, coaches must limit contact to no more than one-third of their practice time. It also is banning full-speed, head-on blocking or tackling drills in which players line up more than three yards apart. Coaches can have full-speed drills in which players approach each other at an angle but “not straight ahead into each other.” There also should be no head-to-head contact.

HOWEVER!!!  (Always seems to be that or a ‘but’ with me)…  There still can be contact Continue reading

Political Football: Irv Muchnick

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.

On Friday, on Beyond Chron, Irv Muchnick wrote about the appearance of a conflict of interest between the Centers for Disease Control and the National Football League, in regards to the upcoming panel and recommendations.  In the article Irv was right to point out that the federally funded CDC is taking outside monies for the first time;

A CDC spokeswoman admitted to me that the NFL’s $150,000 grant for “Heads Up” marked “the first time the CDC Foundation has received external funding to help support” this initiative, which has a decade-long history encompassing various outreach to health care professionals and patients, school professionals, sports coaches, parents, and kids and teens. (CDC’s own funding for this program has averaged around $200,000 a year.)

Which brings into question who will be in control of the recommendations?  Will the people shaping the foundation of concussion management, aimed at athletic trainers and doctors, actually have representatives in place?  I am not talking about the usual suspects that may hold a MD or ATC tag – the ones who do Yoeman’s work in the research field – rather some of the “boots on the ground” if you will.  Yes there are some Continue reading

Athletic Trainers Needed not Need to be Cut

With the ever-growing current of law suits regarding about everything in life (see hot coffee) when a school district has the chance to diminish some of the risk why not take it.  Sure it is going to cost something up front, but why not be protected and give the coaches and administration some stress relief?  What is the cost for peace of mind?

The website PennLive.com recently ran a story, from the Patriot-Ledger and Stefanie Loh, about how the need for athletic trainers far outweighs the cost associated with the profession (thank you Chainsaw);

“We’ve been working on that for a while now, trying to really emphasize it,” said Janik, the head athletic trainer at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre. “But it’s tough, especially with all the budget cuts.”

With school districts across the state forced to cut corners to accommodate shrinking budgets, there are already indications that some might resort to eliminating athletic training positions to make ends meet.

The state in the story is Pennsylvania, where a recent study found that 81 percent of the high schools had access to an athletic trainer.  However eliminating that position may save some much-needed money, but what about those that are getting hurt, Continue reading

St. Michael’s Information

The Vancouver Sun has this information regarding the previous press release.  A lot of the information is not “ground breaking” per se, rather just a confirmation of what most have been saying for a very long time;

Although symptoms of a concussion may not be immediate, researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto have been able to show in rats that the affected portions of the brain continue to worsen as time passes during a “vulnerability phase.”

“We can see the actual neurons deteriorating for days and days afterwards,” Dr. Andrew Baker, the study’s head researcher said Wednesday. “It’s an ongoing problem and opens up the possibility that doctors can jump in there to stop it. This first step is to show we can show that it takes several days for the effects of a concussion to be visible.”

The “vulnerability phase” may just be the period during which the concussion has not recovered; if you remember back to our example of a concussion via a snow globe, the brain would be vulnerable during the time the flakes were excited.  As the brain has the “cascade” of events including the decrease in blood flow to the brain then the neurons would deteriorate due to lack of nutrients.  The physical effects of a concussion through imaging is very important, however if it takes “several days” to do this then what can we do in the meantime?

In a finding that may be more important to the military than sports was this; Continue reading

Edit: Matthew Gfeller Center Hosting Symposium

The National Sports Concussion Cooperative (NSCC) that was launched in March is meeting up as the Matthew Gfeller Cetner is hosting a symposium this upcoming weekend.  The NSCC is championed by;

These four entities have come together for the goal of reducing the incidence of sports-related concussions with the formation of a cooperative to bring interdisciplinary collaboration to concussion research and testing.

The National Sports Concussion Cooperative will hold its founding organizational meeting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on May 2, 2011, to develop an agenda by which it will identify the most pressing concussion objectives in sports and set a course for assessing their significance through research and peer review. After the meeting, additional partners will be engaged to consider joining the collaborative effort and finalize the objectives for each stakeholder group.

The event this weekend, April 29 and 30, titled “Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Neurotrauma Symposium”, will bring together “experts” within the field of research, clinical and equipment manufacturing to share their thoughts on the concussion issue.  The chair for the symposium is Jason Mihalik, Ph.D., any media requests for him should be directed to Patric Lane, (919) 962-8596, patric_lane@unc.edu.

The full press release is as follows; 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….

Brain Expert Omalu Wants Longer Rest for Concussed Football Players

Scott Fujita

A occassional contributor to The Concussion Blog, Matt Chaney, a journalist, editor, teacher and publisher, also has a blog.  However, Chaney has published a book titled Spiral of Denial; Muscle Doping in American Football, so he is not new to finding and presenting good information.

Sideline concussed juveniles for three months, says breakthrough neuropath NP testing, lacks validation and might be harmful, critics charge NFL players rebuke ‘safer’ football through their ‘behavior modification’

By Matt Chaney
Posted Friday, January 28, 2011

So-called concussion awareness is said to be sweeping American football, and Scott Fujita, veteran NFL linebacker, agrees to a point.

Yes, Fujita confirms, even hard dudes like him have sobered in their perspective. Head injuries are no longer considered trivial in football but as serious business, and NFL players get it, especially
Fujita, nearing 32 years old at arguably the game’s most violent position for Cleveland.

In his mind the most menacing guys don’t appear so tough anymore, just more human, fragile—even as he targets one to smash on the field.

“I gotta be honest, I think about that every time I go in now to tackle somebody,” Fujita, 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, said this week in a phone interview. “I’m concerned for my own safety as well as
theirs. I’m a married guy, I’ve got two young kids, and I see a lot more the big picture than I ever did before.”

But has anything changed about danger in tackle football, the game that kills and maims? Is so-called safer play really taking over?

Fujita, member of the players union executive committee, doesn’t equivocate in answering, typical of his trademark frankness. “Do I feel safer with the emphasis on the rules and all that kind of stuff?
No, that doesn’t make me feel safer,” Fujita said. “Do I think the emphasis makes the game safer? No. Overall, I don’t, know.”

READ MORE HERE

The entire article is VERY comprehensive and has some intriguing interviews, below are more excerpts; Continue reading

Guskiewicz At It Again…

Kevin Guskiewicz, head of the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes at the University of North Carolina, sent a press release out yesterday stating that BOTH the NFL and NFLPA awarded $100,000 grants to his facility for further concussion research.

The center has already studied 41 retired NFL players, Guskiewicz said. The new grants will enable the center to study another 45 former college players – who didn’t play in the NFL – and compare the data.

“That will help us answer the magic question: What is the effect of the additional exposure?” Guskiewicz said.

This good news from the NFL, NFLPA, and UNC as furthering information on this issue is very important.

News Observer

Leading By Example

Kevin Guskiewicz, department chair of the University of North Carolina’s Exercise and Sports Science program, is leading the nation in concussion research.  We have highlighted some of his work and quotes here on the blog, but the Daily Tarheel did a piece on him and his beginnings today.

“We’re a sport-crazy society, and I think that’s a good thing,” he said. “Just as exercise and sport scientists, we bear the responsibility to help improve the safety of sport.”

Guskiewicz has pioneered research with accelerometers in helmets as well as simple balance assessments to use as tools for diagnosing concussions.  What makes Guskiewicz a huge impact is his athletic training roots; his approach to keeping the balance between safety and the beauty of sports.  His experience with a former NFL player sparked his interest and keeps him going.

“After having a concussion in a game, he was driving and couldn’t find his way home, couldn’t have a conversation with his kids or his wife,” Guskiewicz said. “There was living proof in Merril Hoge that this was a problem.”

As the concussion problem gains attention you will certainly hear his name more and more, and his previous and ongoing research in the area warrants the publicity.

Thanks to Stephanie Willen Brown for the “heads up” on the story.