Hit Count Symposium

If you have a son or daughter in Little League Baseball you probably have heard of a pitch count.  Basically it is a set number of pitches a pitcher can throw in a certain time period.  The reasoning seems simple and sound, in my opinion; to protect the overuse of the arm/elbow.  Sure, there are many coaches out there in the baseball world that know what they are doing and will only throw players when they are fully rested.  On the other hand there a plenty of coaches out there that either don’t know or knowingly put players at risk when it comes to overuse of the pitching arm.

This has a relation to the concussion world; well, Sports Legacy Institute hopes so.  In an effort to be PROACTIVE about issues surrounding concussions and especially the youth players of collision sports SLI has created an initiative to limit, log and research “hits” absorbed.  I have blogged about it here when the initiative began.

Like many things that are new and different, people often dismiss or fail to grasp what is being attempted or cannot see what may be accomplished by doing them.  In regards to the Hit Count, it to is simple; limit the number of hits one sustains while playing sports – collision sports to begin with.

I may not be the worlds biggest advocate for sensor technology as we currently know it, however this approach is different and unique.  It is something that should be paid attention to, if not for the currently proposed reasons, at the very least the research capability.  How can we know if we don’t know.  In other words; how can we measure if we are making a difference with any of our so-called “advances in concussion issues” if there is not something to measure it against.  For a small niche in the medical community that is all about “baselines” and return to “normal” our peers seem to get all squirmy when people want to find this baseline.

The Hit Count most likely will not be the panacea which our culture so desperately wants but this is at least a step in the right direction.  Below you can see the full press release on the Symposium.  I cannot attend on July 15th, but I have been afforded two (2) transferable registrations.  Please contact me if you will be in the area and are looking to attend.  Without further ado:

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For Immediate Release —Thursday, June 12, 2014

Media Contact: Chelsea McLeod (781) 262-3324 or cmcleod@sportslegacy.org

Sports Legacy Institute Announces 2014 Hit Count® Symposium to be Held on Tuesday, July 15, at the Boston University School of Medicine to Advance Discussion on Use of Head Impact Sensors in Sports to Prevent Concussions

Co-Chaired by Dr. Robert Cantu and Dr. Gerry Gioia, event will gather researchers, athletic trainers, coaches, parents, athletes, medical professionals, and administrators to explore how Hit Count® Certified sensors can be used to improve brain safety  Continue reading

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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

IHSA Proposed Heat Acclimatization Policy

There was big news out of Bloomington, Illinois coming and I was getting fired up because the word on the street was they had been working with the Kory Stinger Institute and Sports Legacy Institute to create a new “football” policy.  With my effort over the past two years to get the Illinois High School Association to look at and make some proactive changes to the way football is practiced, there was hope it had not fallen on deaf ears.

Well, the announcement/proposal is out…  It’s a good first step; one that addresses the heat issues that plague football. Some highlights are;

  • 14 day period that every player must go through to be eligible to play
  • Strict guidelines on actual practice time and rest time during multiple practice days (traditionally 2-a-days)
  • Set rest days
  • Removal of “grey area” of weights/agilities/walk throughs
  • Definition of scrimmages
  • No matter what was done before the start of the season all must do the 14 day period

Moreover this proposal is very specific and makes very good sense in the area of heat acclimatization.  Obviously you can see the hard work of KSI in the proposal, but where is SLI input?  Some of the missing talking points 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

Ann McKee, PhD of SLI and Wisconsin

Courtesy of Scott Stuart via Flickr

Principal researcher Ann McKee of the Sports Legacy Institute has been looking into CTE as we have posted about many times.  Now one of her alma maters, Wisconsin, has produced a narrative piece on her and her work since moving on.  It appeared in On Wisconsin, written by John Allen.

McKee probably has more experience examining CTE-ravaged brains than anyone else in the world, and her studies are starting to change the rules and even the culture of football and sports in America.

At the end of the article, John Allen quickly looked at how Wisconsin football is making changes.

The first stage, according to Johnson, is “brain rest.” The player is asked to cut back on all forms of activity — television, video games, or music, and, in serious cases, even classes — until all symptoms (such as amnesia, confusion, disorientation, headache, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, and light sensitivity) have disappeared. Then athletic trainers slowly increase the player’s activity.

Most striking and the take home message from this last quote is, “brain rest” and athletic trainers.

Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy

It’s not often that I come across a news article or research paper that stops me in my tracks. By that, most information has become known to me though my circle of “concussion friends” or leads that the public sends my way.

There are times when Alan Schwarz writes, I feel as though he is breaking news, which to me is exciting. But getting the back story on someone or something really stops me. To learn what people have done and gone through to dedicate themselves to a particular cause starts to paint a picture.

Yesterday Caleb Daniloff wrote an article for BU Today in the World, about the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. This is an article that all people, not just researchers or professionals, should take time to read. It’s about how the CSTE is going to make the sports we love safer and lives we live longer.

At the time of McKee’s discovery, Grimsley was the fifth former NFL player diagnosed with CTE. The untimely deaths of the others often followed years of strange behavior. “Iron Mike” Webster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, felled by a heart attack at 50, took to living in his truck and at train stations and tazing himself to relieve back pain. Steelers lineman Terry Long, 45, killed himself by drinking anti freeze. Philadelphia Eagles defender Andre Waters put a gun to his head at age 44. And 36-year-old Steelers lineman Justin Strzelczyk died in a high-speed police chase.

For years, the NFL downplayed the link between head blows on the field and brain damage later in life. The league’s medical advisor had this to say about Guskiewicz’s 2003 findings: “When I look at that study, I don’t believe it.”

The article is more than just finding information on CTE, and what its destructive behavior might be.

In early October 2009, as BU’s School of Medicine was gearing up to host a conference on athletes and concussions at Gillette Stadium, in Foxboro, Mass., home of the New England Patriots, the results of a long-touted study commissioned by the NFL had leaked to the media. The research showed the prevalence of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other memory-related diseases among retired players to be as much as 19 times higher than in the general U.S. male population. The league claimed the study was incomplete. Further findings, it said, would be needed. “They had a very bizarre reaction,” Nowinski says. “They paid for the study, yet they tried to distance themselves from it. But you understand their position. The guys who commissioned the study are probably not the same guys who had to react to it.”

National Story on Sports Legacy Institute

Pat Graham penned a story for the AP today about the Sports Legacy Institute and its ongoing contribution to the “concussion crisis” we are facing.

Interviewed in the story were various professional sports athletes, as well as Chris Nowinski the Director of the SLI.  The point of the story was to shed light on the fact the 300+ people are dedicating their “brains” to the research of it all.  Not only will these people donate their brains after a long life, they are undergoing annual testing for data collection.

Ideally, Nowinski said the center would like to sign up 50 athletes from each sport. Most of the volunteers are men, but there are women in the registry including soccer player Cindy Parlow and swimmer Jenny Thompson.

Athletes who are enrolled in the registry take a medical history every year, perform cognitive tests and answer an array of questions, such as if they’ve been dealing with bouts of depression. It’s a way to establish a medical baseline, helping researchers watch for signs of CTE, which can eventually lead to dementia.

“We have no idea how much head trauma is necessary to produce (CTE),” said Dr. Robert Cantu, a clinical professor of neurosurgery and co-founder of the institute. “We just know those who play sports and who have higher amounts of head trauma have a higher incident of it. … This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of studying this problem.”

Follow this JUMP to read the entire article.