Limiting Head Trauma is Logical

The research is starting to come in; the problem is that results and conclusions bring more questions that should be answered.  Naturally some will look at early evidence and make a 180 degree change on their attitudes about certain things.  We are talking about concussions and the research associated with it.  Unfortunately there is plenty of anecdotal and observational cases that sear into our memory, this perhaps shape our thought process.  Along with that there is gathering evidence that supports some sort of process change in how we handle this particular injury.

The need to make change is upon us, that cannot be debated; what can be debated is how or what the changes should be.  I recently read an article where Micky Collins of UPMC said something to the effect of current concussion concern is like a pendulum that has swung all the way to the other side.  Although the changes in sports and activities has certainly not taken that full swing the other way, the pendulum is on the way.  His feelings, like mine is that there is no evidence to suggest that a full swing to the other side is warranted, rather there needs to be competent and complete understanding of what we are facing.  Rather than making full sweeping changes that would be akin to digging up your backyard to rid your self of a mole; when placing traps and poisons and maybe only having to dig up a small section would fix the problem.

There are definitely things we can do as parents, players, coaches, researchers, doctors and concerned people in general to make a dent in the issue.  If we find that the changes are not working then taking another aggressive step may be necessary.  I guess the reason for the above rant is to reinforce the need for changes, but the right changes.  (As I wrote the last sentence I realized how do we know if the changes are the “right” ones; I guess we don’t but certainly what is happening now needs attention).

One of the small changes that can be made is very obvious to me; Continue reading

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Open Letter and Proposals to IHSA about Concussions

I have been working on this letter for a little while but was really spurred to action by the parent in Maryland, Tom Hearn who discussed his concerns with the local school board.  I have tried and tried to use the “chain-of-command” with these thoughts and ideas, however at every step I got the feeling I would have to go alone on this, so I have.  This letter may or may not reflect the opinions of my employer, high school, athletic training sanctioning bodies, or others I am involved with.  This letter is from a concerned individual who feels I can spread the message effectively by these means.  I have emailed the letter, proposals and the Sports Legacy Institute Hit Count White Paper to all Executive Directors and Board of Directors of the Illinois High School Association.

OPEN LETTER

May 15, 2012

Illinois High School Association
c/o: Marty Hickman, Executive Director
2175 McGraw Drive
Bloomington, IL 61704-6011
(309) 663-7479 – fax

Dear IHSA – Executive Directors, Board of Directors and Sports Med Advisory Board:

I am writing this letter to address the growing concern of concussions in sports, mainly in football.  It should be noted that football is not the only sport with a concussion issue; however this sport combines the highest participation, highest risk, and highest visibility.  This letter should not be construed as an attack on the sport of football, but rather a way to keep the sport continuing to grow.

As a licensed and practicing Athletic Trainer, researcher, commenter, father, and survivor of too many concussions, I feel that in order to keep the sports we love, proactive steps must be taken.  Often being proactive is a painful process and easily dismissed because of the trouble it will cause.  I urge all involved to think about what the future of all sports will be if nothing is done.

The Illinois State Legislature with the IHSA took the initiative by creating a mechanism of concussion education and awareness in response to the mounting scientific evidence of potential long-term impairments resulting from mishandling of this injury.  However, this only represents a first step in the process; passing out a flyer or having parents and athletes initial that they have read the information is one small element of the issue.  Another crucial element of the issue is coaching. We must ensure that those we entrust with the care and leadership of our children understand Continue reading