‘Head Games’ Documentary Takes Detailed Look at Sports Concussions

A new documentary is being released nationwide today that could launch the concussion issue into the stratosphere. Head Games, from producer Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) and producer Bruce Sheridan, takes an in-depth look at the devastating and long-term effects of concussions in all sports.

As a feature-length film, Head Games has time to venture farther into the topic of concussion than most websites, articles or public service announcements. The trailer features compelling scenes about what professional and young athletes are willing to risk to play the game, and the consequences of their decisions.

The movie is heavily centered on the story of Harvard-educated former professional wrestler Christopher Nowinski, who, when diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, began a quest to better understand the condition. After a visit with renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Cantu, Nowinski began to learn the medical reasoning behind his traumatic brain injury.

Nowinski co-founded the Sports Legacy Institute with Dr. Cantu and, in addition to serving as SLI’s executive director, is co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (BU CSTE) at Boston University School of Medicine.

Head Games calls concussions “the public health issue of our time” — a statement that’s truly more fact than opinion. Like the crises of seatbelts and smoking in years past, and their subsequent legislation, traumatic brain injuries have been called an “epidemic” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and dozens of states have related laws to protect children. Consequently, while this film is one of the first documentaries to seriously examine the issue of concussions, it will hardly be the last.

Visit the official Head Games website for more information, including a list of theaters and On Demand providers.

White Sox’s Konerko Felt Helpless & Depressed After Concussion

Last month, Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko suffered a concussion after being struck in the right temple by Kansas City Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson. After a gradual return to play, which included working out a little more than a week after the concussion, Konerko is now back on the team in full force.

What’s refreshing about Konerko, aside from the fact he took his concussion seriously enough to stay out of the game until he healed, is his honesty about the alarming effects of concussion.

In a video interview with Comcast Sportsnet, Konerko described feeling helpless, depressed, unmotivated and lethargic immediately after his brain injury.

“You just feel like a different human being. You just feel like out of the world. It’s just a weird feeling,” said Konerko, who took the ImPACT test after his injury to help diagnose the concussion. He described his emotional state not feeling like himself. “You almost feel, you don’t care about anything.” Konerko also said it hurt for several days just to shift his eyes.

In the video below (will open in a different page), Konerko provides an incredible glimpse into the physiological and psychological symptoms of brain injury.

The one part we take exception to is Konerko’s account [beginning at 1:16] of being blindsided by the actual impact which allowed for a “better chance of getting rattled and the brain moving.” The fact is we know that nothing, not even anticipating a blow, can prevent the brain from moving inside the skull.