Run, Sam. Run!

This week over 2 million viewers watched Sam’s impressive speed and versatility on YouTube. Sam Gordon is a girl playing in an all-boys tackle football league in Utah.  Sam finished the 2012 season with a stat line that would make any parent and coach proud. According to the video, she scored 35 touchdowns on 232 carries, totaling 1,911 yards and averaging 8.2 yards per carry. And just for the fun of it, she also had 65 tackles.

It is hard not to watch this video and be wowed, but in this era of concerns about concussions, on all levels of football, this video raises some concerns.  The last minute of the video shows clips highlighting the 9 year old girl “taking a hit”.  Some of them are quite jarring. Gordon is not even 60 pounds, and there’s a kid on her team who weighs more than 150 – his nickname is Tank.

In his new book, Concussions and Our Kids: America’s Leading Expert On How To Keep Sports Safe And Protect Young Athletes, Dr. Robert Cantu – a clinical professor of neurosurgery at the Boston University School of Medicine — proposes that children should not play tackle football until they are 14 years old. The better game for children under 14 is flag football — in which kids grab flags rather than each other to stop the ball carrier.

Our message to Sam is simple: run, Sam. Run. Run so you can avoid the hits!

‘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.

Concussion TV Offers Online Videos and Webcasts

Concussion TVAs concussion awareness rises, so does the variety of educational resources available. Internet TV Channel, part of the Sports Pro Community Network (SPCN TV) is an online network committed to bringing athletes, parents, coaches, athletic trainers, personal trainers, medical and sports business professionals the latest information on concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The website is filled with free videos and webcasts featuring renowned specialists and parents of youth athletes discussing this “silent injury.”

A Message from Kelley – Fake Dr.’s Note

I recently read an article that made my jaw drop. It basically stated there are websites that will produce a fake doctor’s signature so an athlete will be allowed to return back to play. It really got me thinking; is the pressure in today’s society to “suck it” up and play greater than the potential risk of further injury?

I mean, this is your brain we’re talking about! I couldn’t believe students would take advantage of something like this. Then I realized the pressure to return to sports is huge.

When I first got my concussion my team would say, “we can’t wait to have you back”, and “practice isn’t the same without you”. It was killing me; I was missing so much of what I thought was a ‘crucial’ high school experience. I got to the point where I even  told the school’s Physical Trainer that I was “feeling a ton better” and expected resume regular activity within the next few weeks. In reality, I was feeling the same, if not worse.

At that point I didn’t realized the seriousness of what could have happened if I returned to play too soon. Now, being more educated on the subject, I can’t help thinking how stupid it was for wanting to go back. Maybe it was just a normal response from a normal teenager?  Maybe I just wanted to get back to normal and appear ‘super-human’, like an athlete on tv. Someone who could “tough-it-out” like a pro. I hate to think what could have happened if I had played before being cleared.  It makes me wonder what happens to athletes who play after being cleared by a fake doctor.

Concussion awareness and education is the only way for them to fully understand the impact of their choices.

Mild Brain Injuries Just Don’t Exist

We find it interesting people still call concussions “mild brain injuries.”  Furthermore, culture makes every attempt to break down the preconceived notion that concussions are nothing serious.

“Just shake off,” they say, or “Man-up.” We can thank educational resources like the dictionary and encyclopedia for perpetuating this misconception. Even Wikipedia, the popular online Web site, plainly states that “The terms mild brain injury, mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), mild head injury (MHI), minor head trauma, and concussion may be used interchangeably.”

If people believe that a concussion is so mild, we invite them to review the following details: 

1) Did you know that the word concussion comes from the Latin word concutere which means TO SHAKE VIOLENTLY.

2) Concussion side effects can include physical,

cognitive and emotional impairments. Think that’s mild? These side effects can range from blurred vision and headaches to convulsion and amnesia. In severe cases, psychiatric disorders and even long-term memory loss (including a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s) are possible. Hardly mild.

Don’t get us wrong, in nearly all cases, people who sustain a concussion will live a happy, healthy and fully functional life.  We just need to make sure our facts are straight, especially from the resources we use to learn.

Concussions are a brain injury, not a “mild injury,” not a “mild head trauma”…  A brain injury.

Courtesy WebMD

An Open Letter to Justin Bieber

© Bill Davila / Startracks

Dear Justin:

By now, most of us know you sustained a concussion yesterday by walking into a glass door. And then you passed out for 15 seconds.

Those are the facts and now we’d like to relay some facts to you.

See, we were hoping you’d see this as an ideal way to reach all your fans, warning them of the dangers of concussions, even though the incident might have seemed like an insignificant injury to you.

But no, you and your manager both succeeded in sweeping the situation under the proverbial rug.

Here are some tidbits from your tweets, along with our commentary about the facts:

“im fine. just smacked my head”
No, a concussion is more than smacking your head. It’s when your brain gets knocked against the inside of your skull.

“needed some water. all good.”
No, Biebs, a concussion is not the same as dehydration.

“jb is gonna be fine. things happen. he is a trooper. canadian hockey player. tough kid. no issue.”
No, JB’s manager, concussions are serious issues, and they have nothing to do with being tough. Even the toughest of the tough have been sidelined by concussions, and that includes Canadian hockey players.

Oh, and by the way, the fact that you’ve been on Twitter since your concussion has not escaped us. Part of allowing your brain to rest is staying away from computers, cell phones, video games and the like. Yes, that includes dancing around. Not fun but very important.

So, Justin, please know that concussions are no small matter and we appeal to you to tell your fans the facts.

In the meantime, we have some advice for you: When In Doubt, Sit It Out. And watch those doors.

Sincerely,
HeadFirst