geldefenderTM Blog

  • Michigan football player leaves program over concussion concerns

    Following the example that 49ers linebacker Chris Borland set recently, Michigan center Jack Miller has announced that he is leaving football due to concerns over head injuries. He will not be returning to the team for his senior year.

     

    After previously announcing that he was leaving the program, he came forward last week to explain his reasons: that the consequences of concussions scare him and that his health and happiness are more important to him than a game.

     

    Though Miller has already had a few concussions as a player, he feels lucky to have not had adverse symptoms so far. "It's nice walking away before things could've gotten worse,” he explained.

     

    His actions are the most recent in a new trend of athletes leaving their sports as a preventative measure against brain injury. It’s a sure sign that the realities are hitting home for the people they are affecting most closely, and if others continue to follow, it could throw the future of those sports into uncertainty.

     

    *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.

  • Chris Borland leaves 49ers over concussion concerns

    San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland walked away from a promising career last week in order to keep his head healthy as long as possible.

     

    In a surprising move, the 24-year-old rookie announced his decision because, he said, “I don't think it's worth the risk." Through research and conversations with those close to him, he came to the undoubtedly difficult conclusion that he valued his head’s safety more than his football career. Though he has not personally felt any less mentally sharp following concussions he’s sustained, he said he wants to be proactive.

     

    “I'm concerned that if you wait till you have symptoms, it's too late," he explained.

     

    Borland is not the first to take such a dramatic step in order to protect himself from the harmful effects of concussions, but he is one of the most high-profile. The decision displayed both courage and a great deal of foresight. Perhaps, going forward, his actions (and those of others like him) will prompt others to think more deeply of what they risk when they put their brains in harm’s way.

     

    *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.

  • Sideline concussion test proven effective for children

    Parents and coaches may soon have a new tool for evaluating their child athletes for concussions. Researchers from the NYU Langone Concussion Center have determined that the King-Devick test is an effective way to gauge head injuries in children as young as five years old if no physician is available.

     

    The test, developed in 1976, has been applied to college-aged athletes before, but this is the first it has been used to assess children. The study, published in the new Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology, showed that the test gave reasonably accurate readings on head injury in the 243 children it followed over a single season.

     

    Here’s how the test works: At the beginning of each season, players are shown a series of three cards with numbers written on them and are asked to read the numbers from left to right as fast as they can. Each card reading is timed, and the three times added together make up the player’s baseline score. After a suspected head injury, the process is repeated and the results compared.

     

    Of course, such tests are never 100% accurate and cannot replace a trained medical professional in diagnosing concussions, but this low-tech tool may be able to give coaches and parents some direction after a hit to the head.

     

    *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.

  • Brain Injury Awareness Month 2015 is here

    After a brief and involuntary technology-mandated break from our posts, we’re back just in time to welcome Brain Injury Awareness Month.

     

    When the terrible dangers of concussions were first brought to the attention of the public, they took the athletic world by storm with all the intensity of a flash fire. It would have been reasonable to assume that, like so many fads with similar starts, the flame would fizzle out relatively quickly, leaving the sports it had touched essentially unscathed.

     

    But here we are in 2015, and the hot-button topic continues to be at the front of our minds, mostly in a low simmer, but flaring up now and then when the flames are fanned.

     

    March is one such time, and with it comes an opportunity both to enrich your own knowledge of head injuries and educate others and them. Events to raise awareness are being held all over the country, so avail yourself of the opportunities to learn and to help others learn. Let’s make this Brain Injury Awareness Month count.

     

    *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.

  • 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.

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