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Sidney Crosby's Concussion Trouble has Changed Hockey

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   January 6, 2012 12:00

Amid the memorabilia of a glittering career – a hockey stick, NHL jerseys, a ticket from the 2010 Olympic final and photos of his Stanley Cup ring and Olympic gold medal – is a small sculpture of the word “believe.”

But one year after the concussion that took the sport’s biggest star out of the game, it’s hard not to note the desperation lurking in the inspirational message at the sprawling sports complex in suburban Halifax where a young Sidney Crosby worked on his shot, hustled in practice and began to chase his dream, in earnest, to play for the NHL.

The youthful players at Cole Harbour Place idolize Mr. Crosby. But many of the parents who had a front-row seat to Mr. Crosby's meteoric rise are terrified now when they see their own children playing.

“After every game parents are saying ‘I’m just so glad my son got out of there without a concussion,’ ” said Glen Smith, seated high in the stands of one of the rinks, whose son plays for the Dartmouth Whalers Bantam AA. “You go to your daughter’s game and you don’t have a worry in the world. And you go to your son’s and you’re like ‘glad he made it through that.’ ”

At a mid-day practice for several local high school teams, the notion of concussions, nuanced rule changes and debate of the very nature of the game seem worlds away. But chat to some of those lining the boards, or coming off the ice, or sitting in the sparse stands, waiting for their kid, and worries that Sid the Kid will never again play the game at a professional level begin to surface. Mr. Smith said the superstar’s injury has made everyone aware of the risks faced by boys playing an ever-faster and harder-hitting sport. Some of the skaters say they have become more careful on the ice.

Officials and experts across hockey-playing nations have weighed in with suggestions, including baseline testing for concussion and calls for a ban on checking.

Paul Mason, who coached the young Crosby for four years, finishing when he was 14, said that minor hockey in Nova Scotia now uses tougher rules in cases of suspected concussions. He said the next steps could include looking at some of the equipment players wear and driving a change in culture from behind the bench.

“I think the onus is on the coaches as well,” he said in a phone interview. “They have to say, ‘as a player on my team, it is unacceptable to hit someone in the head.’ ”

Players at the Cole Harbour Place rinks Wednesday were quick to play down their own fears, though some admitted concerns and many said their parents were worried about them.

Luke Stienburg, 12, took a break from practising with his Maritime Hockey Academy team-mates to discuss the impact of Mr. Crosby’s injury. He said referees are stricter about calling penalties now and that, as a player, he’s more conscious of keeping his head up and avoiding damaging contact.

But he finds it disheartening to see the local star out of the game.

“It’s sort of hard because he was a role model to look up to,” said the right-winger, as the smell of sweat hangs over the rink and the sound of pucks hitting the boards echoes the arena. “All the players liked to say ‘you play where Sidney Crosby did.’ I think we care more here because it’s his hometown.”

Cole Harbour, a suburb of Halifax, is Crosby-country and affection runs deep. Only minutes away from the rinks is the home where he played ball-hockey and shovelled snow for neighbours. People on his street who remember him from those days are still fiercely protective, telling a reporter early in the concussion saga that they will gently steer away autograph seekers and celebrity hounds.

“He’s the local boy,” said David Bedford, who played goalie for 18 years in Nova Scotia, rising to Midget AAA, as he waited with his four-year-old son for a skating class at Cole Harbour Place. “He’s something of an icon here. Once the face of the NHL gets hit and put out, everyone pays attention.”

Mr. Bedford is keen for his young children to play hockey. But he notes that his son was in a helmet as soon as he was old enough to slide down a snowy hill.

That concern about head injuries is visceral throughout this building. Strangers will spark up conversations with “do you think he’ll be back” and even people with children far too young to play hockey are concerned.

Nick Blair and Jen Appleby are the parents of Carter Blair, only 16 months but already excited at the sight of the Sidney Crosby memorabilia cases. The boy sleeps with a small plastic hockey stick and his parents would love him to play the game. They’re hopeful the attention generated by Mr. Crosby’s injury will ultimately help clean up the sport.

“For every parent ... instead of it being at the back of your mind, it’s putting up front the risks that you take,” Mr. Blair said. “By the time [Carter] is playing it’ll be a different game than it is now.”

Article from the Globe and Mail

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Hormonal Dysfunction and Brain Injury

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   January 6, 2012 09:38

Over 7 years ago, Dr. Mark L. Gordon began his crusade promoting the relationship between head trauma and the progressive loss of life-promoting hormones. Dr. Gordon began lecturing to physicians at national and international medical conferences, presenting thousands of compelling studies about the causes and effects of traumatic brain injury on quality-of-life issues.       

Dr. Gordon, working with professional boxers, mixed martial artists, retired football players, motocross racers, and now veterans suffering with "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," has found the majority are suffering with one or more hormonal insufficiency or deficiencies noting that each had experienced at least a minimal traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

In 2006, after giving a lecture on mTBI, Dr. Gordon was approached by ESPN: Outside the Lines to provide the framework for a program looking at Sports and TBI. On January 21, 2007, Dr. Dan Kelly, a neurosurgeon and expert on TBI, and Dr. Mark Gordon provided the science and clinical aspects of hormonal dysfunction arising out of TBI.

A number of well-known sports celebrities, each with documented TBI and under Dr. Gordon's care, shared their experiences before and after hormone replenishment. 

Whether the trauma was mild, moderate, or severe it still altered the brain's ability to regulate the patient's hormones leading to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, emotional instability, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety, mood swings, memory loss, fatigue, confusion, amnesia, poor cognition, learning disabilities, decreased communication skills, poor healing, frequent infections, poor fracture healing, poor skin quality, increased body fat, decreased muscle strength and size, infertility, and loss of sex drive.

Also in 2007, Dr. Gordon's book The Clinical Application of Interventional Endocrinology was published, offering medical documentation to support the causes, clinical findings, laboratory testing, specific hormone replacement strategies, and the outcomes for Traumatic Brain Injury associated with hormonal dysfunction.

Recently, Dr. Gordon was featured on the cover of Life Extension Magazine (Jan. 2012) with an interview article on "Using Hormones to Heal Traumatic Brain Injury." In this piece, Dr. Gordon shares his views on how the medical community is presently addressing patients with TBI and presents one of many cases where a young man was being treated with three anti-depressants that did not control his depression. When he was found to be significantly deficient in one of the major hormones, replacement allowed him to be weaned off his traditional medication by his psychiatrist (within 6 months). Two years after the fact, he is living a quality of life that was previously unobtainable.   

This paradigm shift from treating hormonally deficient individuals experiencing both cognitive and behavioral problems with medications that mask the symptoms to a treatment protocol that focuses on replenishing the missing hormone(s) is starting to catch on. The relationship between behavior and hormones is indelibly connected, answering why many of the traditional medications fail.

As indicated in the Life Extension article, Dr. Mark L. Gordon has a grant from Access Medical Laboratories of Jupiter, Florida to provide free hormonal testing to veterans of the Gulf War and Law Enforcement. Again, the consultation and laboratory fees are at no cost to you or anyone for that matter.

Article found at

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Eric Lindros' Comeback from Post-Concussion Syndrome

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   January 2, 2012 15:00

When Eric Lindros sat out the 2000-01 season for the Flyers, demanding to be traded after recovering from a disease (post-concussion syndrome) that had not been officially recognized or even known to the NHL, the fans turned on him.
When he was traded to the Rangers that summer, it seemed 60-40 with fans against him in his years-long battle with the Flyers and general manager Bob Clarke.
At the time, I never envisioned that he would be welcomed back with the kind of love and devotion I saw Saturday at the Alumni Game.
That he drew a louder, longer standing ovation than Bernie Parent, perhaps the most beloved Philadelphia athlete of the 1970s, was stunning to me and others who have been around the game all these years.
The reason for that ovation, I believe, is not rooted in a simplistic explanation that fans simply forgive or forget.
It’s more complicated.

For starters, most of today’s generation of Flyers fans weren’t adult season ticket-holders for much, if not all of the Lindros Era. There’s a whole, new generation that were kids watching him. A generation that wasn't even born when he began playing. Those who were there then and remain here were bitterly divided between supporting the club and supporting Lindros in his numerous battles with Clarke.
A generation has come and gone. Everyone involved from back then has moved on. Even Clarke himself has said repeatedly that Lindros belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and no one would have thought he’d say such a thing in 2001.
But the biggest reason I feel Philadelphia again embraced Lindros is that anyone watching today’s game now understands that concussions and post-concussion syndrome is the No. 1 enemy facing hockey.
It has ruined lives – Pat LaFontaine, Paul Kariya, Keith Primeau -- and endangered careers – Sidney Crosby.
We didn’t understand then what we do now about this disease and we still don’t fully comprehend it’s dramatic after-effects.
That, to me, has changed the public perception of Lindros in Philadelphia and everywhere else. People now see him as being at the forefront of this terrible disease when, back then, they questioned his sincerity to play hurt which is the axiom of hockey.
Their view of how he played through and suffered through concussions has been altered.
“That’s a good point,” Rick Tocchet told me. “I think maybe that has a lot of people thinking differently [about him] now. A good point.
“Concussions are an individual thing. You can’t judge people on concussions. Sidney Crosby is the best player in the league and who knows if he is ever gonna get back.”
Regardless of why things have changed, it was great to see the Big E once again embraced by a city to which he gave so many quality years.
And it was even better seeing him laughing and joking with Clarke.
Time doesn’t always heal all wounds, but in this case, time and knowledge about concussions seems to have allowed it to happen.

Article found at

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The Effects After a Brain Injury

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   January 2, 2012 12:00

The events that occur with major brain injuries and head trauma may be very similar to a rare but devastating ocean-related disaster. The initial trauma is the first insult to the brain, but what happens in the hours and days afterward may be even worse.

Neurological events called "brain tsunamis" occur several days after severe head trauma and may be responsible for inducing brain damage, according to a new study. Preventing these tsunamis or "killer waves" could help patients with severe head trauma avoid further brain damage and possibly retain most of their brain function.

The "brain tsunamis" are actually large population of brain cells that undergo massive depolarizations. Much like the weather-related tsunamis, these large waves of depolarizations spread slowly but persistently throughout the brain, causing widespread brain dysfunction.

These wave-like depolarizations have been studied in brain trauma patients for decades. But the new research showed for the first time that brain tsunamis are responsible for causing further brain damage in afflicted patients. The brain tsunamis drew the attention of the U.S. military as head injuries became a very common injury among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The study is a collaboration between Kings College Hospital in London and the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine in Ohio. The researchers followed 103 people across seven different centers worldwide who underwent neurosurgery following major head trauma. Fifty-eight of those patients experienced the "brain tsunami" event, leading to a spread of cell depolarizations within the cortex.

The researchers measured the extent of the depolarizations by placing a linear strip of electrodes on the surface of the brain as the patient underwent neurosurgery. The patients were then followed for the duration of their post-operative care, to see whether the outcome of the neurosurgery was favorable.

The investigators hope that their results may alter the long-term treatment of brain trauma patients in a way that could possibly lead to better outcomes. Previous studies have identified other ways to improve outcomes in humans with brain injury.

In this case, the researchers hope that the spreading cortical depolarizations could somehow be stopped before they start in trauma patients undergoing surgery. So far, however, the investigators have not speculated how that could be achieved.

"Our ability to monitor and understand what happens in the brain after a severe injury hasn't advanced significantly in decades. The brain is like a black box, but the process of spreading depolarizations now gives us a window into that box," said principal investigator, Jed Hartings, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

The study was published in the journal Lancet Neurology.

This article found at

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Head Protection in Winter Sports

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   January 2, 2012 09:43

As my family prepares to hit the slopes this ski season, one of the foremost safety issues on my mind is proper head protection.

My kids were chuckling recently as I rooted through garage boxes fishing out ski helmets and helping them try them on for a fit check. I’ll admit, I’m something of a safety geek, but when it comes to prevention of head injuries, there are some things we should all practice.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injury accounts for a significant percentage of sports-and-recreation- related injury.

The majority of such injuries happen to children younger than 18. Moreover in the last decade, traumatic brain injury-related emergency room visits have increased 57 percent.

While many factors may account for this apparent increase in head injuries, it is clear that children are at substantial risk from a common and preventable health condition.

Winter sports often involve speed and ice – two factors associated with trauma. Head injuries may result from skiing, sledding, tubing, skating, snowboarding or hockey.

The most important safety measure to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury is use of a protective helmet. Helmets worn should be approved for the activity and properly fitted.

The helmet should be well-maintained, consistently worn during the sport or recreational activity and properly worn. It is wise to ensure a good fit each season to account for a child’s growth. Chin straps should always remain fastened during the activity and should promote a snug fit.

Even helmet use does not provide absolute protection from head injury. Further preventive measures need to be taken including enforcement of a no-head-hit policy in competitive activities and the practice of safe recreational and sports-related techniques and behaviors to minimize the risk of injury.

During activities such as skiing or snowboarding, it is important to stay in control and keep an eye out for others to avoid collision. Keeping a safe distance from others on the slopes, as well as from obstacles such as trees, especially in narrow conditions, will enhance safety.

Traumatic brain injury is more commonly known as concussion. Because many recreational winter activities involve the risk of concussion, the CDC recommends that parents and coaches become familiar with a simple four-step action plan to follow if a head injury occurs.

After a bump or blow to the head, the child should stop the sport or activity. Next, after the head injury, the child should undergo evaluation by a trained health-care professional.

The third step for coaches is to inform the parent or child care-giver that a head injury has occurred so that the child may be properly monitored. Lastly, the child should not resume the sport or activity until he is symptom-free and cleared by the health professional.

Taking simple preventive measures for head trauma and appropriate precautions when it occurs will minimize the risk of adverse consequences from this common form of injury.

Article from The Durango Herald

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Helping Soldiers with Brain Injuries

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   December 30, 2011 19:00

Three NATO troops were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan Wednesday. That kind of attack has caused nearly 40 percent of fatalities in Afghanistan and Iraq. It often causes the what's considered the "signature wound" of these wars: brain injuries. CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward in Afghanistan says the military is taking a new approach.

Getting treated by Capt. Amy Gray can entail playing with dogs, watching movies, even getting massages.

An occupational therapist, Gray heads the concussion care center at Forward Operating Base Fenty where a simple technique is making the world of difference in treating soldiers with mild traumatic brain injury, known as brain sprain.

"I tell them, 'Your mission when you are with me is to sleep, relax and get better,'" she said.

Specialist Nick McKee was inside his base when an insurgent rocket exploded less than 20 feet away from him. He escaped without a scratch but quickly knew something was not right.

"I felt nauseous all that day and pretty much had headaches ever since," he said. "Trouble sleeping mainly. Trying to go on like it didn't happen -- that was probably the hardest part."

Despite incredible developments with blast-resistant vehicles, traumatic brain injury is still the most common injury on the battlefield. In the last 10 years, more than 320,000 servicemen and women have been diagnosed.

Up until recently, mild concussions often went untreated. If soldiers weren't visibly wounded, they kept on fighting, sometimes resulting in serious long-term health issues.

Now the military is rethinking its approach.

"What we found is that if we get them in the first 24 hours, get them down, get them a good night's sleep, their symptoms go away," said Gray.

More than 200 soldiers have passed through here since Gray arrived in May. Almost all have returned to duty within a week.

"I'm sleeping and eating and pretty much just anxious to get out to my guys," said McKee.

Gray: "I go from becoming Capt.Gray to mom and they will literally call me 'mom.'"

Part officer, part mother: Capt. Gray is wholly committed to treating her soldiers.

Article and related video found at

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Link Between Brain Injury and Violence

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   December 30, 2011 13:30

Individuals who've had a severe traumatic brain injury are at subsequent risk for violent behavior, but the same association was not seen for patients with epilepsy, Swedish researchers found.

Compared with the general population, adults with traumatic brain injury had an adjusted odds ratio for a later conviction for a violent offense of 3.3 (95% CI 3.1 to 3.5), which was a 5.8% absolute increase in risk, according to Seena Fazel, MD, of Oxford University in Oxford, England, and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues.

Patients with epilepsy, in contrast, had an odds ratio for violence of 1.5 (95% CI 1.4 to 1.7) after adjusting for age, sex, and sociodemographic factors, but this increase was no longer present after adjusting for familial confounding (OR 1.1, 95% CI 0.9 to 1.2), the researchers reported online in PLoS Medicine.

While evidence has linked serious mental illness with violent behavior, it has been less clear whether neurologic disorders do so, despite the common, long-held belief that epilepsy increases risk for violence.

To explore these potential associations, the researchers analyzed longitudinal data from several Swedish population-based registries, identifying 22,947 patients with epilepsy and 22,914 individuals who had experienced a severe traumatic brain injury over a 35-year period.

Each case was matched with ten matched population controls.

Among those with traumatic brain injury, 71.1% were male and mean age at the time of the injury was 24.8 years. For those with epilepsy, 52.1% were male and mean age at diagnosis was 19.8 years.

A total of 8.8% of patients who had had a serious traumatic brain injury later were convicted of a violent crime, as were 4.2% of those with epilepsy.

The odds ratios for violence were attenuated in both groups with adjustment for substance abuse, to 1.2 (95% CI 1.1 to 1.3) in those with epilepsy and to 2.3 (95% CI 2.2 to 2.5) in those with traumatic brain injury.

Further analyses determined that patients whose onset of epilepsy occurred before age 16 were significantly less likely to exhibit later violent behavior (χ2 = 52.1, P<0.001), as were those whose seizures resulted in unconsciousness (χ2 = 12.9, P=0.005).

"The finding that certain subtypes of epilepsy (including simple partial seizures and temporal lobe epilepsy) are associated with higher rates of violent crime may assist in clarifying mechanisms and potential treatments, and suggests that these patients could be assessed for violence risk if these findings on subtypes are validated," the researchers wrote.

For the traumatic brain injury group, diagnosis before age 16 again was associated with a lower risk of violence (χ2 = 35.7, P<0.001), as was having a concussion only rather than more severe brain injury (χ2 = 21.9, P<0.001).

However, individuals whose brain injuries were focal had higher risk compared with those having hemorrhagic injuries or cerebral edema (χ2 = 6.4, P=0.04).

The researchers controlled for potential familial confounding by comparing the risk for cases and unaffected siblings. For the traumatic brain injury group, the odds ratio remained doubled after this adjustment (OR 2, 95% CI 1.8 to 2.3).

"As these siblings shared half the genes and most of the early environment, this allowed us to partly account for personality traits that are associated with both violence and head injury or epilepsy," Fazel and colleagues explained. These traits could include risk taking and impulsivity, they noted.

Further research will be needed to more fully explain the protective effects of younger age and the influence of repetitive, less severe brain injuries on later violent crime.

There also may need to be a revision to current recommendations regarding patient assessment after head injury to include evaluation for violence risk, according to the researchers.

Limitations of the study included its use of patient registries, which may have resulted in either underestimation or overestimation of risk.

Risks in patients with epilepsy also may have been influenced by treatment with anticonvulsants, which can have mood-stabilizing properties.

Article found at

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"Hide it" Mindset Still Exists in NFL

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   December 30, 2011 10:00

Ask Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jacksonville Jaguars running back, whether he would try to play through a concussion or take himself out of a game, and he provides a straightforward answer.

"Hide it," the NFL's rushing leader said. "The bottom line is, you have to be able to put food on the table. No one's going to sign or want a guy who can't stay healthy.

"I know there will be a day when I'm going to have trouble walking. I realise that. But this is what I signed up for. Injuries are part of the game. If you don't want to get hit, then you shouldn't be playing."

Other players say they would do the same.

In a series of interviews about head injuries, 23 of 44 NFL players told the Associated Press they would try to conceal a possible concussion rather than pull themselves out of a game. Some acknowledged they already have.

Players also said they should be better protected from their own instincts: More than two-thirds of the players interviewed said they would like to see independent neurologists on sidelines during games.

The interviews were with a cross-section of players - at least one from each of the 32 NFL teams - to gauge whether concussion safety and attitudes about head injuries have changed in the past two years. The group included 33 starters and 11 reserves; 25 players on offence and 19 on defence; all have played at least three seasons in the NFL.

The players tended to indicate they are more aware of the possible long-term effects of jarring hits to their heads than they once were. In a sign of the sort of progress the league wants, five players said that while they would have tried to conceal a concussion during a game in 2009, now they would seek help.

"You look at some of the cases where you see some of the retired players and the issues that they're having now, even with some of the guys who've passed and had their brains examined - you see what their brains look like now," said London Fletcher, the Washington Redskins linebacker, the NFL's leading tackler. "That does play a part in how I think now about it."

But his teammate, back-up fullback Mike Sellers, said he has hidden concussions in the past and would "highly doubt" that any player would willingly take himself out of a game.

"You want to continue to play. You're a competitor. You're not going to tell on yourself. There have been times I've been dinged, and they've taken my helmet from me, and I'd snatch my helmet back and get back on the field," Sellers said.

"A lot of guys wouldn't say anything because a lot of guys wouldn't think anything during the game, until afterward, when they have a headache or they can't remember certain things."

Justin Smith, the San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman, captured a popular sentiment: Players know of the potential problems, yet would risk further damage.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out if [you have] a concussion, you're probably damaging your brain a little bit. Just like if you sprain your wrist a bunch, you're going to have some wrist problems down the road.

"Yeah, I'd still play through it. It's part of the game. I think if you're noticeably messed up, yeah, they'll take you out. But if you've just got some blurry vision, I'd say that's the player's call. And most guys - 99 per cent of guys in the NFL - are going to play through it."

Smith said he sustained one concussion in high school ("You don't know who you are," is how he described it) and another in college ("Walking around the whole time, but I don't remember anything until six hours later").

The NFL likes to say that views about concussions have shifted from simply accepting they are part of the sport to doing what is possible to lessen impacts. Commissioner Roger Goodell talks about "changing the culture", so players do not try to "walk it off" after taking hits to the head.

Yet the Associated Press interview with players showed there is room for more adjustments, which did not surprise Dr Richard Ellenbogen, the co-chairman of the NFL's head, neck and spine committee.

"The culture change takes awhile," Ellenbogen said. "Why would these guys want to go out? They love playing the game. They don't want to leave their team. They want to win.

"I understand all that. And that's why we have to be on our toes with coming up with exams that are hard to beat, so to speak."

Zach Strief, the New Orleans Saints offensive lineman, put it this way: "We all grew up with, 'Hey, get back in there. You [only] got your bell rung'. And while it's changing now, I think it's going to take time for the mindset to change."

A few players said they would be particularly inclined to hide a concussion if it happened in a play-off game or the Super Bowl. Some said their decision would depend on the severity of a head injury - but they would hide it if they could.

Clearly, there is a stigma associated with leaving the field, no matter the reason. One player who said he would exit a game if he thought he might have a concussion did not want to be quoted on the subject.

Other findings from the survey:

Ÿ Asked whether the NFL should have independent neurologists at games to examine players and determine if they should be held out because of concussions, 31 players said "yes", and 10 said "no". Three did not answer.

"They've got guys looking at your uniform to make sure you're wearing the right kind of socks," said Quintin Mikell, the St Louis Rams safety. "Why not have somebody there to protect your head? I think we definitely should have that."

He said he has tried to clear his head and stay on the field "many times".

"I'll probably pay for it later in my life," Mikell said, "but at the same time, I'll probably pay for the alcohol that I drank or driving fast cars. It's one of those things that it just comes with the territory."

Ÿ Regarding concussions, 28 of the 44 players think playing in the NFL is safer now than in 2009, while 13 think it is the same and two think it is more dangerous.

One was not sure.

Those who think safety has improved gave credit to the rise in awareness; more fines for illegal hits; this season's changes to kick-off rules that have cut down on the number of returns; and the new labour contract's reduction in the amount of contact allowed in practice.

"When I first came into the league, it was like, 'Whatever goes'. It was more of that old-school, just 'beat-him-up' football. Not wanting to hurt anybody, but show how tough you were.

"Back in the day, it was like if you come out [of a game] with [a] slight concussion, then you weren't giving it all for your team," said Andra Davis, the Buffalo Bills linebacker. "But now, they're taking that option away from you."

Davis, a 10th-year veteran, said he has had a couple of concussions. He is one of those whose view on seeking help for such injuries has changed.

"The younger me would definitely hide it," Davis said.

"But the older me now - with wife and kids and looking more at life after football - I would say something about it."

Ÿ Asked whether more can be done to protect players from head injuries, 18 players said "yes" and 24 said "no". Two did not respond.

Players on opposite sides of the ball generally drifted toward opposing views: Those on offence seemed more likely than those on defence to say more can - and should - be done to improve safety.

Linemen, meanwhile, often complained that there is no way to improve their plight, with the helmet-to-helmet banging that takes place at the snap on play after play.

One player described those collisions as "micro-episodes that build up over time".

Nearly three-quarters of the players who said they think safety can improve - 13 of 18 - suggested equipment can be improved, too. Helmet technology, mouth guards and chin straps all were mentioned.

Two players suggested more education about concussions is needed.

Little-discussed until reporting by The New York Times led to an October 2009 congressional hearing on concussions in the NFL, head injuries are now part of the daily conversation about professional football. Last Saturday alone, two starting quarterbacks, Cleveland's Colt McCoy and Arizona's Kevin Kolb, sat out because of head injuries, while a third, Minnesota's Christian Ponder, left his team's game with what his coach called "concussion-like symptoms".

At least eight lawsuits have been filed against the NFL in recent months - including three within the last week - by dozens of former players who say they have medical problems related to brain injuries from their time in professional football. The NFL's stance, in part, is that players knew there were risks of injury, and there was no misconduct or liability on the league's part.

"It's a physical sport. Guys are going to get hit in the head," Brent Celek, the Philadelphia Eagles tight end, said.

"It's not like, 'Oh, I'm going to play this because my head's going to be fine when I'm done playing'. It's a risk you take playing this game, but I think the league is doing everything in their power to make it as safe as possible."

And while the players tend to feel better about the way concussions are handled now than in 2009, they will not deny that dangers lurk.

"You're never going to be totally safe from concussions in this game," said Stanford Routt, the Oakland Raiders cornerback. "This is the only place where you can actually legally assault people."

Article found at

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Warning if you are Hitting the Slopes this Winter

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   December 30, 2011 09:00

Jason Byrd, a brain injury attorney based out of Houston, TX, wants to caution those taking ski and snowboarding vacations in the coming months. He wishes to draw attention to the very real risk of brain injury on the slopes.

“I think people have this misconception that since they’re dealing with snow, they don’t have to worry because their fall will be padded. But that simply is not true,” Jason Byrd informs. “When you hit your head on that packed down snow, you may as well be falling off your skateboard or bicycle on a paved road.”

Pointing to the CPSC study performed by a government agency way back in 1999, the brain injury attorney draws attention to the fact that an estimated seven thousand head injuries occur on the slopes each year.

He goes on to clarify that “I’m not saying stay away from the slopes. I’m saying be smart about it. Wear a helmet!”

It is a timely message meant to keep holiday skiers from ruining their vacations and needing a brain injury attorney.

Article found at

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Year of Concussion

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   December 29, 2011 14:00

Here's how Canadiens legend Elmer Lach remembers it, and it's a wonder he can remember it at all:

It was Feb. 6, 1947, and Lach, still in uniform, had been wheeled into Western Hospital, across the street from the Montreal Forum. A half-hour earlier, Lach had been blindsided by Don Metz of the Toronto Maple Leafs, knocked unconscious when his unhelmeted head smacked the ice, striking and bouncing off the rink surface.

So there was the future Hall of Famer on his gurney, blinking through his cobwebs at the emergencyward ceiling, when a doctor arrived at his side.

"He put his hands around my neck, gave me a few hard shakes, and said: 'Do you feel anything?' " Lach recalled, laughing at the memory. "I told him I didn't, so he yanked my head some more. Still nothing. I was told: 'Well, then, there's nothing wrong with you.' "

The hospital decided to keep the Canadiens' hardrock centreman overnight for observation before sending him on his way. But just to be sure, they rolled him into X-ray the following morning.

"That's when they discovered," Lach said, still laughing, "that I had a fractured skull."

And surely one of the innumerable concussions he suffered with his bulldozing, headfirst play through 740 National Hockey League games from 1940-54.

Much has changed, obviously, in the 6½ decades since Lach, 94 next month, cracked his head on the ice of the Forum and had it slapped around in hospital triage like it was a basketball.

There is no telling how many concussions went unreported, undetected and untreated in the early days of the NHL. Or, for that matter, last season.

The game wasn't as fast in Lach's day, the players weren't built like today's tanks, the equipment was hardly the battle armour that it is now.

But watch the old, grainy film from games in the 1940s and '50s and you'll see hockey that probably was more vicious than the modern game.

The stickwork was brutal, players often using their heavy ash lumber as weapons; most of the angry post-whistle scrums show players with their sticks overhead, wielded like clubs.

The NHL limps to the end of 2011 trying to deal with the enormous headache of and even career-threatening fallout from concussions, a catch-all description for brain-damaging injuries that have reached epidemic proportions as medical science works furiously to catch up.

The terrible year began New Year's Day at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field during the annual outdoor Winter Classic, a game better remembered for the hurt it inflicted on hockey's best player than for the final result - a 3-1, rain-delayed victory for the Washington Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby was flattened when blindsided late in the second period by Washington's David Steckel, who caught Crosby in the head with what was, at best, a questionable hit.

Crosby's skull was caught by Steckel's shoulder in a collision deep in Washington ice, behind the play. Crosby couldn't reassemble the play that night, or now.

"I couldn't even tell you what happened," Crosby said after the game. "I think the puck was going the other way. And I turned and next thing I know, I am down. -

"It's pretty far behind the play. Maybe the refs didn't even see it. A lot of people didn't. But I don't even know. (Steckel) got my head, that's for sure."

Crosby finished the game and reported for duty four nights later in Pittsburgh against Tampa Bay, and during that match he absorbed a hard check into the glass from Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman.

The next thing hockey knew, Crosby's season was done. He was sidelined more than 10 months with concussion symptoms that included fatigue and an inability to tolerate loud noise and bright lights.

In Crosby's 320-day absence, the NHL wrote Rule 48 - Illegal Check to the Head, sadly needing a black-andwhite regulation for that. Concussion protocols were introduced and fine-tuned, designed to protect players from returning to action no matter that they believed they'd simply had their bell rung.

Crosby's first game back on Nov. 21 was brilliant - two goals, two assists - and he had a dozen points in eight games before the concussion symptoms returned the middle of this month. He's sat out the past seven games and there's no sign he'll be back any time soon.

Crosby, of course, is only the brightest name on the concussion marquee. But there are many more.

In Montreal, fans were horrified by the March 8 Bell Centre hit by Boston's Zdeno Chara on the Canadiens' Max Pacioretty, leaving the latter severely concussed and with a fractured vertebra.

The wounded list reads like a who's-who of NHL excellence. It has included, among a great many others, Philadelphia's Claude Giroux, the league's most prolific pointscorer; Milan Michalek of Ottawa, the top scorer; defencemen Chris Pronger of Philadelphia, Marc Staal of the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh's Kris Letang.

A handful of goaltenders have even been felled by pucks and by heavy, needless contact in or around their crease.

Veteran journalist Tim Wharnsby of has kept a running, entirely depressing total of this season's concussions and suspensions. Through Thursday, 457 man-games had been lost to head injuries; players had been suspended 80 games, forfeiting nearly $1.3 million in wages.

Meanwhile, NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan has become an online video star in his own right, visually explaining the punishment he metes out as he tries with mixed success to heighten awareness of and discourage headshots.

Three NHL heavyweights who made their living with their fists died over a terrible summer. The losses of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak cannot be attributed directly to concussions, but manic behaviour and wild mood swings can be related to brain trauma that has come from a career of fighting and absorbing blows to the head.

The Canadiens' Pacioretty has found a silver lining to the check that could have crippled him for life. He's created a foundation to buy the Montreal General Hospital a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine for analysis of brain-trauma injuries among athletes and all others, from children falling down stairs to seniors slipping on a sidewalk.

Hockey, meanwhile, tries to solve a problem for which there is no quick fix. Consistent, relentless discipline and thought-provoking, walletdenting suspensions might help deliver the message. So, too, might modification to equipment - not to Dickie Moore's flimsy gear of the 1950s, but to something between that and the jousting armour worn today.

It doesn't help that there's a general lack of respect players hold for each other, some leaving their feet to deliver high, crushing blows, others cavalierly throwing bulletproof-padded shoulders and forearms into the skulls of unsuspecting targets.

It was a year that saw the Boston Bruins perhaps improbably win the Stanley Cup. It has seen turmoil in the Canadiens unlike anything in recent memory, and it has seen an entire Russian hockey club tragically wiped out in a plane crash.

With everything that's transpired, 2011 lurches to a close the same way it began - with the game's greatest player on the sidelines dealing with brain trauma that could well effect not just his career, but his life beyond it.

It's a sad statement about the game, one sadder still about those who continue, by choice, to play it recklessly and irresponsibly.

Not all will be as lucky as Canadiens icon Elmer Lach, who 65 years after the fact still chuckles about his fractured skull. Elmer the Elegant spent the summer of 1947 recovering. And then he went out the following season and won the NHL's scoring championship.

Article from the Montreal Gazette

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