Heads in the Game
This is farewell.
Just a song before I go? Nah, but imagine Crosby, Stills & Nash as background music. . . .
Let's close out the Heads in the Game series, and this accompanying blog, with some web portals that may well prove useful for parents, players, coaches, anyone who already has experienced concussions or brain injuries in sports, or, alas, is concerned they may someday deal with them.
> The Center for Disease Control contains a sub-site with a wealth of information available. Experts at UPMC Sports Medicine assisted in formulating much of that information.
The CDC's signs and symptoms card was posted here a few days ago, but here's another form of it.
Like everyone else, they're also on Facebook. . . but it's part of their http://www.facebook.com/cdcheadsup , where some folks have shared their stories and other links. (Though nobody has made them aware of our series.)
"A concussion is a brain injury, and all are serious" -- a CDC quote that should appear in every locker room, preseason physical-examination form and coaching credential.
> UPMC Sports Medicine's sites for head injuries and the concussion program that attracts professional and amateur athletes from all over.
The ImPACT test, founded by program director Dr. Mark Lovell and co-director Dr. Michael "Micky" Collins, already contains millions of tests for young athletes in Western Pennsylvania and throughout America. The majority of Pennsylvania high schools are expected to be subscribers by the end of 2011. Youth teams and associations also can get their players tested, for a nominal fee. As Shawn McCall -- a president, coach and father in the Peters Township Youth Football Association -- put it in the main story of the Heads in the Games first installment, "How much is your kid's brain worth? Come on.
"No pun intended, it's a no-brainer."
> West Penn Allegheny Health System/Allegheny General Hospital sports medicine, while less widely publicized as its counterparts, also performs considerable work with concussions -- as detailed in Part I on this page of PDF presentations and slideshows. The sports medicine director, Dr. Patrick DeMeo, is also the Pirates' medical director. And Dr. Edward Snell, who assists DeMeo with the Pirates, is so well versed in concussions that he has spent the past decade helping the National Federation of High School Associations to rewrite its concussion guidelines.
> The state of Washington's interscholastic sports, the first to come under the Lystedt law being adopted in much the same form in states across the country -- though Pennsylvania's attempt (see below) is stalled in the senate.
> Keep an eye on the U.S. military, for that's the likely genesis of the next breakthroughs in concussion research. You can find some discussion on that front at this site and this one. Anywhere from 40 percent to 75 percent of all military injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq are concussion-related, experts say. Post-concussion symptoms may even be confused for post-traumatic stress disorder in some soldiers.
> Some supplementary reading, all found in these pages in the past:
Mike Webster's tale (circa 2005-06)--
His family's fight against the NFL, which helped to pry open the door that lead to today's awareness of Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy, concussion dangers, later-life difficulties. Interesting to look back that the findings the NFL at long last accepted last year were intially found in 2005 amid concussion and retired-players research at the University of North Carolina, long before Kevin Guskiewicz of Latrobe deservedly became a nationally known expert in the field. And here's a story I'll never forget: fomer NFL player Curt Marsh, whose leg got amputated as a result of injuries, had an annual physical to retain his disability payments, "So every year I go back [to an NFL-selected physician] to see if my leg has grown back, or I have a new hip, or whatever."
2010, what some people call The Year of the Concussion, from the Post-Gazette --
Brain experts call for plans for concussion management. (Me, March 13)
Experts contend hockey is next. (Me, March 14)
Chris Henry's brain shows chronic disease. (Me, June 28)
-- Column on those concussion findings. (Ron Cook, June 29)
Column on Ryan Clark's concussions. (Ron Cook, Aug. 8)
Young-athlete trips to ERs on rise. (Jack Kelly, Aug. 31)
Brain trauma rises in youth basketball. (Jack Kelly, Sept. 15)
State committee approves proposed bill. (Tracie Mauriello, Sept. 20)
Editorial about the bill. (Sept. 26)
Pa. House passes concussion bill. (Me, Sept. 29)
Mixed reaction to the bill. (Me, Sept. 30)
Spinal injury is concussion-like (Jack Kelly, Oct. 4)
UPMC gets NFL grant to study youth concussions. (Me, Dec. 22)
George Visger's story, first published on this blog, then in the newspaper (Dec. 26)
And, of course, this Heads in the Game Series --
The links to Parts I through III are located at the left on his blog page.
Here, from Part IV, is the Preston Plevretes story.
Here is Dr. Julian Bailes' seven points to curtail and prevent concussions.
One final note: My heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in the series -- the doctors, the nurses, the clinics, the parents, the players, the certified athletic trainers, the public-relations folks, the families and athletes who shared through emails and calls their past tales of concussions and brain injuries, . . . . The list is long. Each one had a significant impact, for which I am eternally grateful. Hopefully, we opened some eyes and minds, raised some awareness, with videos, photographs and words.