Princeton, New Jersey Makes Peculiar Move

In a very unusual move by a school board the Princeton Regional School District – servicing one high school, one middle school and four elementary schools – has made it mandatory to wear head-gear in sports not known for head-gear.  In a proactive move the board has voted to make this a must in their school district;

The requirement, one that is not used teamwide for those sports anywhere else in New Jersey, will be mandatory initially for the sixth grade only, officials said. For children in grades seven to 12, the headgear is optional, although parents or guardians will have to sign a form saying they have declined to have their children wear it.

Still, officials were clear this week that with each year, the headgear would become mandatory one subsequent grade level at a time, so that all athletes in those sports eventually will have to wear it if they want to play.

This move strikes me as both good and forward thinking and as a waste of money as well.  Let us examine, first with the not-so-good ideas/thoughts.

First, the premise for this move was in part due to concussions (although they did also state it is for facial and oral injury protection as well) and the thinking on this is wrong in my humble opinion.  Many researchers, doctors, athletic trainers agree that helmets do not prevent concussions.  Sure there is disagreement on whether they protect – for focal-direct-linear forces they do have validity in this premise (as you will see below) – but the general consensus on concussion attenuation is exposure limitation.

Secondly, the addition of head-gear in soccer Continue reading

Outreach: Ashlee Quintero

This is the continuation of a new program here at TCB.  Called “Outreach”; the purpose is to publicize the good (we hope the vast majority) and sometimes the not so good of concussion management and experiences across this vast planet.  One thing I realized real quick in Zürich is that the stories of the bad are relatively the same, usually highlighted in the media.  Meanwhile the stories of good are different and helpful and not heard at all.  I am asking our readers to send in stories of your cases (please be mindful identifying specifics) so we can share.  There are vast stories in the comment section but I would like to bring forward as many as possible. 

Ashlee Quintero was a soccer player at the University of Miami in 2009 when she sustained a concussion.  Through this process she decided to become more involved in awareness and education of this injury.  Below is her contribution to The Concussion Blog.

Dog, Cat, and Fish.

The more I am exposed to the public’s reaction to sports concussion (and that’s a lot, I am a youth soccer coach and the Concussion Program Coordinator at UHealth Sports Medicine), the more I realize how far we still have to go with concussion education. Despite the warnings, educational seminars, and the accessibility of concussion information on this little thing called the internet, coaches, youth coaches especially, are more often than not severely misinformed on how to screen who’s taken a hit. My most recent educational presentation really illustrated this need.

I am a youth soccer coach and volunteered to present concussion information to my fellow soccer coaches at our league’s pre-season coaches meeting. While I was speaking on Florida’s new concussion legislation and discussing the ever-difficult sideline evaluation and decision to sit a kid out, I got the inevitable questions, “Well, how do you know if it is a concussion? What’s the tell-tale sign I am looking for?” Before I could vocalize my response to those questions, Continue reading

In Her Own Words: Rachel Abrams

To anyone else September 22 is any other day, for me it is forever etched in my mind; I call it the devil’s day. Many people are slowly beginning to understand concussions, I want to make sure that the world knows how serious they are, how simple it is to get one and what you can go through if you get one. I will do this by explaining my story.

I was a rough tough athletic kid in high school; who had a few injuries during that time, fractured my back twice, tore my quad and fractured my orbital bone. Nothing kept me out for that long; I did rehabilitation, rested for a short time and did physical therapy. I never thought anything of concussions, I was uneducated of this injury. I was one of those kids that thought, “Oh it’s just a bump on the head, I’ll be fine.” I graduated high school and went to a community college upstate, I was going to play soccer and softball there. I was one of the goalkeeper’s on the women’s soccer team and was having the time of my life. What is better for a kid whose life was sports, I loved every part of it, that was what I was known for and who I was. Then came September 22, 2010, when my life changed.

It was during one of our games, I was in goal and my team was up by a few goals if I remember correctly. Sometimes it is hard to keep complete focus when you do not get much action in goal. It was a corner kick from the opposing team, it came into my area and I went out to catch it in the air. It was not a very hard kick, I misjudged it a bit and caught it against the side of my face and then brought it into my hands. It hurt a little bit but I was fine and kept playing, finishing out the rest of the game. Then came the headaches, I didn’t think anything of it because I thought, “oh that barely hit me and hardly hurt, it’s just a little knock to the head.” I practiced the next day and the next 3 days after the hit, the headaches were getting worse. A friend suggested that I go see the athletic trainer and that I may have a concussion. I refused to go see him, I believed that I just had some small headaches and he would take me out when I didn’t need to be sat out. I was forced to go see him and got checked out, I was taken out, just as a precautionary. Then it got worse, my symptoms got worse, now experiencing nausea and increased headaches. I went to the emergency room at a local hospital where they did either a MRI or CAT scan, I don’t remember exactly. Everything came out fine, the hospital gave me medication for my headaches and nausea and I went back to my dorm. This was on Friday September 24, 2010; my mom came up to see my game that Saturday September 25, 2010, when I told her that I was not playing because of a suspected concussion. I ended up having to go home that Monday Continue reading

Concussions: Not Just Male; Not Just Football

Here at The Concussion Blog, we talk all things concussions. Concussions are brain injuries and they are definitely something we must continue to learn more about and continue to educate the youth and the parents. Dustin and I are both Certified Athletic Trainers at the high school level and I really believe that puts us on the “front lines” when it comes to concussions and concussion education. But I think something that gets lost in the whole concussion issue that a concussion is NOT a football problem; it is a SPORTS concern. This article will once again present another sport that brings its own risks of concussion and it needs to be brought forward once again. Cheerleading, girls basketball, and girls soccer are all prime examples of concussion sports that slide underneath many people’s radar. Continue reading

Futbol Concussions

Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated posted an article about concussions in soccer.  Did you know that soccer only trails football and hockey in number of concussions reported?

Football may be attracting the most attention for head injuries in sports these days, but fútbol has also suffered a rash of concussions that have derailed the careers of prominent U.S. players. According to Dr. Robert Cantu, a concussions expert at the Boston University School of Medicine, soccer provides the third-highest number of his patients among professional athletes, behind only football and ice hockey. But unlike those sports, soccer has two big differences: Its players don’t wear helmets, and the pro and international games allow only three substitutions per match with no chance to return, putting pressure on teams to make hasty decisions to keep injured players on the field.
The MLS has formed a Concussion Program Committee and it has 12 members and a chairman.  One of the members on the committee is Taylor Twellman (remember him) and his experiences with post-concussion syndrome.  The committee has yet to have written policies, but is working hard to create some direction for soccer.  FIFA does not have a policy and either does the Champion Leagues of Europe.  This would be a great opportunity to set a policy for the world to follow.

ALS and Concussions

A research study delved into the association of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease and head injury, more specific brain trauma.  Boston University and the VA published such information in Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology.

The New York Times (and you guessed it Alan Schwarz) posted about this research on August 17, 2010 and wrote the following;

Doctors at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, Mass., and the Boston University School of Medicine, the primary researchers of brain damage among deceased National Football League players, said that markings in the spinal cords of two players and one boxer who also received a diagnosis of A.L.S. indicated that those men did not have A.L.S. They had a different fatal disease, doctors said, caused by concussion like  trauma, that erodes the central nervous system in similar ways.

The Chicago Sun Times and their Soccer Blog wrote about the same thing on September 22, 2010, but how it has affected soccer players;

The findings could shed light on the increased incidence of ALS in contact sports. An Italian study of 7000 professional soccer players from 1970 to 2002 showed 18 of them diagnosed with ALS The study showed Serie players were seven times more susceptible than the non-playing population.

This is a serious issue and important finding, as the life long effects of concussions have yet to be fully discovered, in fact a lot has yet to be discovered on the frontier of the brain.