STOP The Madness

That was the subject line in an email I received this morning, from a mom, and she is right.  It must be stopped and if anyone continues to do it they should be called out by the press or others.  We are speaking of the headlines around Robert Griffin, III and his traumatic brain injury yesterday.  They all seem to say the same thing.

RGIII has mild concussion

If not in the headline it is in the body and particularly by head coach Mike Shanahan when discussing the issues surrounding the injury;

“He wasn’t sure what quarter it was in the third quarter. So at that time, when he wasn’t really sure what the score was, what the quarter was, we knew he had a mild concussion — at least according to the doctors,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said after his team fell to 2-3. “It feels good right now; a lot better right now. But that was … why he didn’t go back into the game.”

There is nothing that grates on me more than that term being used.  I used to get angry and yell at the TV and send emails but that does not work. At least one writer understands this (and perhaps has read my previous posts on it);

Concussions aren’t chicken wing flavors. Calling something a “mild concussion” is like telling someone that your wife is “kind of pregnant.” A concussion is, medically speaking, known as TBI. That stands for Traumatic Brain Injury. Not mild brain injury, spicy brain injury or Caribbean jerk brain injury. Traumatic brain injury.

The term “mild,” within the context of concussions isn’t even mean to say that a concussion is less damaging. In fact, the only reason that the term mild is thrown around by doctors and health care professionals is because it’s not life-threatening.

I guess I will just repost the blog about “mild” concussions and hope that it doesn’t fall on deaf ears/eyes.

Hogwash!  There is NOTHING mild about a concussion, period.  However media, teams, players and even medical staffs continue to use this nomenclature with this injury.  It is simply counterproductive to label this injury with a “mild” tag, and hampers the effort of everyone trying to increase awareness.

Granted, those that have extensive training in the area of injuries, and particularly head injuries, understand the term “mild” when it is in concert with concussion.  This subset of the population is not the one that needs the education, rather it is the general public, which includes players, coaches and parents.  A common problem amongst people who are educated in a particular field is that they forget about both who they are servicing and the education level of people other than their peers.  It’s a fine balance to educate without talking down to others, but understanding the stigmas of the topics help with that effort.

One serious stigma is the “mild” tag that is placed on concussions.  Those that watch and participate in sports are so used to using that clarification when assessing and addressing injuries as a whole, that perhaps it carries over to the traumatic brain injury just sustained by the athlete.  We as athletic trainers and doctors need to reassess how we describe this particular injury.

During my public speaking I often relate being “mildly” concussed to being “mildly” pregnant…  You are either concussed or not, just like you are pregnant or not.

Some may say that “the symptoms are mild”, or that the “prognosis of the injury is mild”, Continue reading