Posted on October 25th, 2010
“The NFL has spoken,” a FOX Sports South article declared earlier this week. “It fined Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson $50,000 on Tuesday for his hit on Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson in which Robinson himself suffered a concussion.”
Though some consider such penalties overly cautious or unfair, the League insists that it is not imposed new rules, but rather simply choosing to enforce old rules more strictly. “We will take all the criticism and all the backlash against those that say we are acting too aggressively… We are not going to be apologetic. We are not going to be defensive about it. We are going to protect our players and hopefully players at the lower levels as well by example,” executive VP of football operations Ray Anderson said. “We understand this is not just about the NFL. This is about safety at our level, at the college level, at the high school level, at the pee-wee level, because we are the standard bearer and we are committed to safety at the highest level.”
At the same time Robinson was fined last week, so were New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison — $50,000 and $75,000, respectively.
There’s no denying the inherent danger of professional football (or even pee-wee, for that matter). From a health standpoint, the NFL’s decision to enforce its rules barring excessively violent hits is therefore an incredibly important step in preserving both the lives and health of the sport’s players. Traumatic brain injuries such as concussions are all-too-often preventable, and their life-altering consequences unrecognized until it’s too late. The game of football will go on, the backlash will subside, and in the end, a number of players will have the League to thank for the protection of their safety.
Posted on September 13th, 2010
In 2007, medical examiners delighted in evidence that showed the number of basketball-related injuries in American kids and teens to have decreased by 21 percent during the preceding decade. Disappointingly, however, the number of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) sustained by the same body of players during that time rose by an astounding 70 percent. And that may be a conservative estimate—the researchers noted that as many as 30 percent of the athletes failed to recognize the signs and symptoms of a TBI and continued to play after a questionable blow to the head.
“To address the problem of traumatic brain injuries and manage them effectively, education of coaches, athletes, and parents is vital,” lead researcher Lara McKenzie, PhD of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio says, but suggests “[not] to take your child out of a sport—particularly one that they like a lot—because there’s a lot of good benefits that really outweigh some of these negative injury risks.”
Other findings of the study (published in the upcoming October issue of Pediatrics) included:
- Girls were more likely than boys to sustain brain and knee injuries
- Children aged 5-10 were more likely than those aged 11-19 to injure their upper extremities and sustain TBIs, fractures, or dislocations
- The most common injury was a strain or sprain in the lower extremities (30 percent), mostly affecting the ankle (24 percent)
For information on preventing traumatic brain injury in sports like basketball, take a look at the CDC’s Guide for Coaches here.
Posted on April 22nd, 2010
The NFL announced Tuesday that it plans to donate $1 million to a university-based, nonprofit partnership studying brain injuries. “The money will support the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy’s (CSTE) research into the long-term effects of repetitive brain trauma in athletes,” an AP article on the matter states. The center is an alliance between the Boston University School of Medicine and the Sports Legacy Institution, and the NFL is the first sports league to financially support this research at the school.
“We obviously are very interested in the center’s research on the long-term effects of head trauma in athletes,” the article cites NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as saying. “It is our hope this research will lead to a better understanding of these effects and also to developing ways to help detect, prevent and treat these injuries.”
The center’s research has focused primarily on examining brains donated by deceased athletes (see last month’s post titled “An Unusual Collection for an Important Cause” for more information), but will use the money to launch a clinical research program to develop methods for better protection of the brain and early detection of injuries.
To check out the CTSE’s official website, click here.
Posted on March 29th, 2010
Michigan Tech's Biomorphic Helmet, courtesy of www.mtu.edu
“A team of inventive engineering and business students from Michigan Technological University has designed a new and promising protective layer for sports and motorcycle helmets,” the Great Lakes Innovation and Technology Report disclosed yesterday. The team was one of sixteen chosen from over two hundred colleges and universities to present their helmet at a national inventors conference in California last week.
“They used the human head itself as a model for a building a helmet lining that mimics the body’s own tricks for deflecting blows to the head. For example, the scalp, designed for redirecting oblique impacts, the skull, for absorbing normal impacts and the cerebral spinal fluid, for dampening the final impact on the brain,” the article reports. The helmet design’s major advantage is that it protects the head and brain from both direct and indirect (also called rotational) impacts.
The team will demonstrate a prototype of their “biomorphic helmet” at March Madness for the Mind in San Francisco in the coming weeks, and hopes to license their invention to a commercial sports equipment manufacturer for widespread use.
Posted on March 1st, 2010
“For the first time, all 329 invited players at this week’s NFL scouting combine will be given a baseline brain activity exam — called the ImPACT test — and will likely face more grilling than previous classes did about their concussionhistories. Those implementing the changes call it smart football,” an NFL online news report read Thursday.
For each person who takes it, the ImPACT test involves a questionnaire, an assessment of current symptoms and conditions, a comprehensive neurocognitive test, a description of past injuries, and a graphic display of the recorded data. The ImPACT’s neurocognitive portion involves six modules that evaluate verbal recognition and memory, visual processing speed, impulse control, and visual-motor response speed, among other things.
By standardizing the testing procedure for players, the NFL’s doctors can ”compare pre-injury and post-injury answers to determine whether a player can safely return from a head injury.” The goal: a reduction in the number of players who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other brain-related injuries after they retire. “This is a tough game, a violent game, a collision game,” John Madden said. “How do we make it safer? We have to educate players and coaches and trainers.” And the implementation of the ImPACT test is step one.