geldefenderTM Blog

  • Rugby's George North continues play after losing consciousness

    The rugby world had a rude awakening this week when Wales’s George North played through a head injury unnoticed until after the match.

     

    He and a teammate bumped heads, and he fell briefly unconscious (less of a red flag, more of a giant neon sign that reads “PROBABLE CONCUSION HERE!”). But he immediately awoke and did not leave the field. It was his second worrying blow, having been taken off the field earlier in the match after being kicked in the head. But he returned after eight minutes, seemingly having been cleared for play.

     

    World Rugby said in a statement that North should have left the field after the incident and that their rules were violated. But also they absolved the Welsh Rugby Union of any wrongdoing since the team’s medical staff and the independent doctor at the match didn’t see the hit. It appears that while the incident was clear on television footage, those on the sidelines did not have a good line of sight and did not see it.

     

    The response to the unsettling event has been startling in its intensity and has turned the head injury spotlight firmly on rugby. Hopefully, it will prompt more vigilance and better protocols so that rugby will be a safer sport for heads in the future.

     

    *Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.

  • NFL protocols must be observed, even when stakes are high

    The term “Concussiongate” has been thrown around every now and then over the last few years as various head injury-related news stories have come and gone. It saw another revival Sunday when New England’s Julian Edelman stayed on the field during the Super Bowl after a helmet-to-helmet hit.

     

    To be fair, “Concussiongate” might be a bit of a misnomer, as whether or not there was any actual concussion is in question. Reportedly, Edelman did undergo the NFL’s protocols and was cleared for play. And if he didn’t actually have a concussion, then great. We’re happy he wasn’t injured.

     

    But it was some time later before he could have had the chance to know that for sure because he didn’t leave the field immediately. The collective cringe of millions of viewers as they watched the hit and the brief wonderings whether he would be taken out of the game were ended with sighs of relief from Patriot fans when the camera cut to the huddle and Edelman was with his teammates.

     

    And that’s the real issue: he wasn’t pulled, even when he was slow to return to his feet after subsequent plays (one of the symptoms specifically mentioned in the NFL protocols for getting a player checked out).

     

    Pointing this out may seem repetitive. We’ve said all this before: same song, different verse. But while it was not the first such occurrence this season, it was the last and by far the most high-profile. The players, the NFL, and the fans can’t keep looking the other way when it’s convenient. Hopefully, next season will see more concern for players’ heads, and we’ll be able to retire the song for good.

     

    *Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.

  • Three deaths highlight head injuries' sobering realities

     

    In the past two weeks, several deaths have once again highlighted the sobering realities of head injury in sports and recreational activities.

     

    In Missouri, 55-year-old Suzanne Pennington died from a closed TBI after snowboarding for two days. Though she was wearing a helmet, she fell a few times on the slopes on January 15 and sought medical help for head and neck pain the next day. She passed away on the 19th.

     

    In Arizona, a 15-year-old boy died after suffering head trauma during a zip line accident Saturday. He was participating in a Boy Scouts activity.

     

    And in California, 31-year-old Oliver Lynch was found unconscious Sunday after suffering a head injury while swimming. He was resuscitated, taken to the hospital, and put in the medically-induced coma. He died Tuesday.

     

    We mourn these three people, and our hearts and prayers go out to their families and communities as they grieve their losses. RIP.

     

    *Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.

  • WWE sued by former performers over head trauma

     

    Concussion litigation has hit pro wrestling, as two former WWE wrestlers have sued the organization for “subject[ing] its wrestlers to extreme physical brutality that it knew, or should have known, caused latent conditions and long-term irreversible bodily damage, including brain damage.”

     

    Both 50-year-old Vito LoGrasso (aka Skull Von Krush or Big Vito) and 22-year-old Evan Singleton (aka Adam Mercer) have called the league out, saying it is "selling violence" at the price of head safety and that they both are suffering the consequences. LoGrasso, who spent nearly ten years with the organization, says he now struggles with migraines, memory loss, depression, and deafness. Singleton, who performed from 2012 (when he was 19) until 2013, is disabled because of brain injury he suffered early in his career.

     

    The suit describes specific tricks used in WWE that target the head specifically, calling them “a recipe for disaster — and widespread, long-term brain damage.” It also says the organization downplayed head injuries’ severity and discouraged Singleton from seeing a neurologist. The men say that two former WWE performers were found to have suffered from CTE after their deaths, and 13 active and retired performers had committed suicide in the last 10 years.

     

    This is just the latest in a long string of athletic associations who are paying the price for past actions or inactions with regards to head injury. Let’s hope that this newest lawsuit will effect changes in WWE so that future wrestlers and their heads will be safer.

     

    *Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.

  • Neurosurgeon calls for action against head injury in youth rugby

     

    A British pediatric neurosurgeon has renewed the concussion conversation in England by publishing an editorial in the British Medical Journal about the dangers inherent in rugby, particularly among youth.

     

    This is hardly the first time that the head injury dialogue has spread to international sports, but the pointed and thoughtful analysis of Dr. Michael Carter of the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children as a doctor and parent have revitalized the debate. Here’s an excerpt:

     

    In UK schools where rugby is played, it mostly begins as a near compulsory activity from the age of 8 years. By 10 years, most players engage in some form of contact competition, increasing the potential for injury. Many players are relatively unskilled; avoidance of injury requires considerable skills that not all children acquire. Squads may contain children of similar age but vastly different physical stature.

     

    Schools, coaches, and parents all contribute to a tribal, gladiatorial culture that encourages excessive aggression, suppresses injury reporting, and encourages players to carry on when injured. It is fascinating how rugby sidesteps many safeguards intended to ensure pupil wellbeing. Schools now require comprehensive risk assessments for seemingly innocuous activities, yet every Saturday teams of children square up against each other in contests that may result in severe injuries to some.

     

    He said that by far rugby yielded the most injuries requiring neurosurgical consultation of any youth sport, and he gave some concrete, practical ways to improve safety. For instance, he called for changes in strength and conditioning training and even match scheduling to prepare children’s bodies better and for more safeguards during the phases of the game where head injuries are most likely, among several other suggestions.

     

    He’s not the first to bring the dangers of head injuries in youth to the attention of the public, but we’d like to commend him for his honest and frank evaluation along with concrete suggestions on how to better the sport. Perhaps, thanks to him, young rugby players will be able to play it safer in the future.

     

    *Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.

  • Steelers players return to play too soon after hits to head?

     

    The 2015 NFL Playoffs have begun, and with them a renewed level of intensity has entered the game. And while the high stakes and increase pressure can make the game more exciting for fans and teams alike, they can also cloud the judgment of game-day decision-makers.

     

    This was brought sharply into focus over the weekend, when two Steelers players reentered the game a few short minutes after ugly-looking hits to the head. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and tight end Heath Miller left the field to be evaluated one right after the other with less than five minutes on the clock and the Steelers lagging behind the Ravens.

     

    Less than five minutes of real time after his initial hit, Roethlisberger returned to the field and threw an interception. A short time later, Miller joined him on the field for a last attempt at scoring, only for the tight end to lose a fumble for only the sixth time in his 10 years in the NFL.

     

    Now, did either of these two have concussions? We can’t know. Were they playing at 100% even after the hits and simply made mistakes? That is certainly possible. And coach Mike Tomlin insists that each of them were properly evaluated before returning to play.

     

    However, it seems unlikely that the doctors would have been able to, in that short amount of time, implement the protocols the NFL requires after such hits to the head. Reportedly, it takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete all the necessary checks, and neither Miller nor Roethlisberger were on the sidelines for even close to that amount of time.

     

    Even if the players and doctors were able to hurriedly complete all the protocols, it would appear that the priority was not with carefully assessing for a possible head injury but rather with clearing Miller and Roethlisberger as quickly as possible to return them to play. The short time they were off the field was not sufficient for any amount of real scrutiny.

     

    Football engenders a passionate, thrilling, and charged atmosphere. The NFL Playoffs magnify that spirit for everyone involved, and that’s not a bad thing. But when those high emotions cause teams to put the game above player safety, it’s time to take a hard look at where that team’s priorities lie.

     

    *Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.

  • Fan gets concussion from stray basketball

     

    As a recent mishap proves, athletes are not the only people at a sporting event who risk head injuries. Spectators should be wary as well.

     

    In an early November game against the Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers’ rookie K.J. McDaniels accidentally gave a fan a concussion by powerfully blocking a shot from Greivis Vasquez. The ball was propelled into the stands and hit a woman in the head. When McDaniels heard about her concussion, he reportedly sent her flowers.

     

    Of course, as humorous as these circumstances are, head injuries are never funny. This incident should be a reminder that brain injuries are not just the afflictions of athletes but can happen to anyone. Protect your brains, and if a basketball ever comes flying at your head, duck!

     

    *Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.

  • Former high school quarterback sues Illinois High School Association

     

    The concussion litigation that has plagued practically every college and professional sports organization has now reached the high school level. The Illinois High School Association has been sued by a former high school quarterback for allegedly not doing enough to protect former and current players from head injury.

     

    To this point, there has been little legal action taken against governing bodies at the high school level, but Daniel Bukal, former player for Notre Dame College Prep in Chicago, is seeking to use his lawsuit change the way the IHSA handles concussions. He himself sustained a number of concussions while he played (from 1999-2003) and now suffers from migraines and significant memory trouble. He didn’t play at any higher levels.

     

    The suit claims that when Bukal played, no protocols for hits to the head were in place. It also asserts that, while the association has made some improvements in the past several years, the protocols are still deficient. It calls on the IHSA, which oversees 800 high schools, to strengthen its rules about how to deal with head injury and to better monitor concussions, including using mandatory baseline testing.

     

    This could very well spark a trend among other high school athletics bodies. If so, high school sports would be heading for a more head safety guidelines and better equipment soon, as their accountability to parents and players increases.

     

    *Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.

  • North Carolina high school football player dies from head injury complications

     

    Head injury has tragically robbed the world of many promising student athletes; in one week in September alone, three high school football players in the US lost their lives due to head trauma. One of them was injured in GelDefender’s own backyard, less than half an hour’s drive from our Raleigh headquarters.

     

    Isaiah Langston, a 17-year-old lineman at Rolesville High School, died five days after being hit in the back of the head during practice on Sept. 24. After the initial injury, he was held out of practice due to headaches for two days before returning to play for a Sept. 26 game. He collapsed during the pre-game warmups, was rushed to the hospital, and died on Sept. 29 of a stroke.

     

    The recently-released state medical examiner’s report listed the cause of death as “head trauma while playing football” and ruled the death an accident. According to the report, his stroke was caused by a clot in a major artery leading to the brain, which, through a medical chain of events, was most likely caused by the blow in practice.

     

    It’s unclear whether he saw and was cleared by a doctor or athletic trainer to return to play (as is required by North Carolina state law for a student-athlete with concussion symptoms). But it’s reasonably clear that there was a mishandling of the head injury and that Langston’s death was the result. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, and we hope this tragedy will inspire others to take head injuries seriously and play it safer in the future.

     

    *Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.

  • Pro football player donates brain to research

     

    A former player in the Canadian Football League has donated his brain to research, renewing dialogue about the long-term effects of head injury in professional contact sports.

     

    John Forzani, former Calgary Stampeders offensive lineman, died last week at the age of 67 following a heart attack. His brain will go to the Canadian Sports Concussion Project to help with studies concerning head trauma in CFL players. Forzani had suffered several concussions throughout his six-season career, once even playing with a broken helmet after a hard hit to the head. The results of the study of his brain will made public in a few weeks.

     

    Dr. Charles Tator, the neurosurgeon who heads the fifteen scientists and clinicians associated with the project, has asked more players to donate, saying that they need a total of about 50 brains of CFL players in order to come to definitive conclusions. As of now, they’ve only been able to study six, three of which had suffered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

     

    According to friends, Forzani saw the need for more research about brain injury and CTE and therefore donated his brain in order to help players going forward. If more follow his example, perhaps future generations will be able to play it safer.

     

    *Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.

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