geldefenderTM Blog

  • Head-to-head collision highlights flaws in FIFA concussion policies

    A cringe-worthy head-to-head collision in the women’s USA-Germany semifinal game Tuesday highlighted FIFA’s still-lacking protocols for dealing with head injuries.

     

    USA’s Morgan Brian and Germany’s Alexandra Popp both jumped to redirect a free kick on Germany’s goal, and, just after Brian managed to head it away, their heads collided with a force that sent them both to the ground for four minutes. Brian was kicking the artificial grass in pain; Popp’s head began bleeding.

     

    But instead of being taken to the sidelines to be evaluated, both of them reported no symptoms and were sent right back on the field (after Popp’s head was bandaged). Taking them out would have used up one of the three substitutions each team is allowed per game, and sending them back in, had they been declared concussion-free, would have used up another.

     

    As with Lebron James’s head-to-camera collision during the NBA Finals, the situation clearly deserved further evaluation to make sure it was safe for them to continue. Not only were they not required to be checked out, but the teams would have more or less been penalized if the players had left the field. Clearly something needs to change.

     

    Regardless, we hope both Brian and Popp are concussion-free and will recover quickly from the incident. And we wish the USA team good luck as it takes on Japan Sunday for the title!

     

    *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.

  • Manitoba expert proposes standard concussion rules for all youth sports

    Sanctioning bodies across sports have been struggling to implement head injury protocols that both protect their players and minimize the disruption to games and competitions. The result has been a hodgepodge of rules and regulations varying from sport to sport, level to level, country to country.

     

    Now, a Canadian concussion expert is lobbying for a standard set of guidelines for all young athletes with potential head injuries throughout his province, Manitoba. Dr. Michael Ellis, medical director of the Pan Am Concussion Program, wants all of Manitoba’s sporting groups, organizations, and school divisions to offer the same quality of care to their athletes after hits to the head. He says the majority of the patients he sees (his clinic only treats ages 19 and under) are the result of hockey, soccer, and football injuries and that having an across-the-board standard of care would better protect the players.

     

    The concept is an interesting one in that it would keep youth organizations and leagues honest and define the roles of coaches, parents, and medical professionals in such incidents. But by the same token, baseball is very different to soccer is very different to football is very difference to basketball. A one-size-fits-all approach to sideline care might not be practical. The success or failure of the idea, should it come to fruition, could be a powerful precedent for other governing bodies.

     

    *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.

  • High stakes override head injury concerns during NBA Finals

    The NBA saw another case of high stakes overriding health concerns last week when LeBron James careened head-first into a sideline camera during Game 4 of the Finals.

     

    After the impact, he immediately began rolling on the ground clutching his head in pain. When he finally made it back to the sidelines, he was bleeding from the head, but he was not taken out of play for evaluation. After getting a quick once-over, during which he told trainers that he was alert and only had a slight headache, he was sent back onto the court.

     

    Now, this was a particularly tricky situation, in that James was due to shoot free-throws immediately after the injury. If he had not returned to shoot those, he would have been unable to return to play for the rest of the game. And taking the best basketball player in the world out of an NBA Finals game without the possibility of return seems foolish unless a head injury is confirmed.

     

    With that in mind, perhaps it wasn’t absolutely essential for him to be evaluated before those foul shots. But after he took the shots, no move was made to send in a sub so that he could be checked out. A blow to the head that had left him practically writhing on the ground in pain mere minutes before had been seemingly forgotten as the game surged forward.

     

    The NBA protocol requires that anybody exhibiting symptoms of a concussion be evaluated before returning to play, but the vagueness of that language and the unreliability of players’ self-reporting creates too much room for error. Perhaps it’s time to rethink those protocols.

     

    *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.

  • Head injury robs NHL player of ability to speak for days

    While we’ve dedicated many a blog to the devastating long-term consequences of head injuries, it’s also important to remember that immediate severe consequences are also a very real, if rarer, possibility. A recent such incident during the NHL playoffs threw that truth into sharp and graphic relief.

     

    This week, New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello spoke publically for the first time about the injury he sustained on April 24 after a slap shot to the side of his head. It robbed him of the ability to speak for four days and of some of the feeling in his arm. Though he reportedly had no concussion, he had a brain contusion, bleeding on the brain, and a hairline fracture of his skull. He is still undergoing speech therapy.

     

    To their credit, his teammates and team doctors responded with far more concern for Zuccarello’s health than for whether he’d be able to finish out the playoffs, though they missed him on the ice as he was unable to return for the rest of the Rangers’ season. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he’ll be able to return to play in time for the beginning of next season.

     

    *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.

  • NBA player's concussion missed during playoff game

    It’s an enduring trend among professional sports organizations and their athletes (though they claim otherwise) that the higher the stakes, the lower the concern for individuals’ safety. The NBA fell into that trap this week when the Warriors’ Klay Thompson took a knee to the head during the fourth quarter of Game 5 against the Rockets.

     

    In the locker room, Thompson was diagnosed with a laceration to his right ear (which required three stitches) and, according to the Warriors, underwent the league’s concussion protocol. He was cleared to play and returned to the game, though he stayed on the bench.

     

    However, after the game, he began exhibiting several concussion symptoms, and his father said he had to be driven home and was throwing up that evening. He’s now undergoing the league’s post-concussion protocols, and we wish him a speedy recovery.

     

    There is little doubt that Thompson did suffer a head injury during the game, so either the doctors evaluating him missed it (or, more disturbingly, let him return against their better judgment) or he never underwent any evaluation.

     

    It’s possible that it was the former; the team followed the rules, and Thompson passed the evaluation without trouble. And if the incident was handled by the book, then the NBA needs to take a look at its policies to discover why the injury wasn’t detected.

     

    But if it was the latter, then a much more overarching problem exists. When an athletic stage becomes so big that it overshadows the importance of athletes’ health, it’s time to reevaluate priorities. The long-term effects of mishandled head injuries are too harmful to risk, even for Game 5 of an NBA playoff series.

     

    *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.

  • Iowa jury awards high school head injury victim nearly $1 million

    An Iowa high school football player was awarded $990,000 in damages and medical fees this week after his school was negligent in how it handled a potential head injury.

     

    During the 2012 season, Bedford High freshman Kacey Strough complained to his coach that his teammates wouldn’t stop throwing balls at his head. Though the coach told him he’d take care of it, nothing was apparently done, and Strough wasn’t removed from play for evaluation. Due to a condition Strough had called cavernous malformation (wherein blood vessels in the brain form abnormally and normal blood flow is disrupted), the incident caused more damage than it might have otherwise.

     

    A few days later, when Strough began showing signs of brain trauma, he was taken to the hospital, where a blood clot near his brainstem was discovered and operated on. Now, more than two years later at the age of 18, he still uses a wheelchair and has permanent brain damage.

     

    The court case accused the school administration of failing to inform coaches of Strough’s condition and consequent increased risk of head injury and of failing to respond to the bullying. It also said the school didn’t comply with the state’s concussion laws, which mandate that coaches and referees must remove athletes from play if a head injury is suspected and cannot allow them to return to the field until being cleared by a medical professional.

     

    The nearly million dollars Strough’s family was given marks the largest payout yet in a high school head injury case and sends a strong message to other high schools that blows to the head absolutely must be taken seriously. Hopefully this ruling will make those responsible for student-athletes pay closer attention to the issue because incidents like this, wherein a possible injury is brushed off or overlooked, cannot continue in our schools. There’s too much at stake.

     

    *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.

  • A tragic week in athletics across the globe

    A tragic week has passed on the international sports stage, with two athletes dying and another in the hospital after head injuries on the field.

     

    Australian rugby player Nicholas Tooth died Sunday at the age of 25 after a head injury Saturday. He collapsed after a botched tackle attempt and was airlifted to the hospital, where he passed away.

     

    Indian cricket player Ankit Keshri died Monday after losing consciousness during the CK Nayudu national championship Friday. The 20-year-old’s coach, Joydeep Mukherjee, called the knee-to-neck collision with a teammate “one of the worst sights [he had] been witness to on a cricket field.”

     

    And now another 20-year-old cricket player, Rahul Ghosh, is in the hospital after getting hit in the head during a match on Tuesday. At the last report, he is doing well and will be discharged early next week.

     

    It has been a week of sobering reminders of the dangers that head injuries present. We wish Ghosh a speedy return to full health as he continues his promising recovery, and our thoughts and condolences are with Tooth’s and Keshri’s families, friends, and teammates.

     

    *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.

  • Veterans and CTE: The long-term effects of brain injury

    It is a heartbreaking reality that many members of our military suffer TBIs, and they come home to new struggles in their everyday lives as they adjust and recover. But though the short-term results of their injuries have been highlighted many times, it’s rarely been noted that they risk the same long-term neurological effects as professional athletes.

     

    Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a condition similar to dementia that can only be diagnosed postmortem and has been a factor in several suicides, is a real danger for our veterans who have suffered concussions and other head injuries while deployed. All the risks that athletes are now so aware of also apply to other repeated head injury victims, among whom our armed forces are foremost.

     

    It’s easy to remember athletes’ brain injury risks because every week, every day even, we sit in front of our televisions or in stadiums and watch those injuries as they happen. We aren’t similarly reminded when it comes to our armed forces, but we should be just as (if not more) aware.

     

    Head injuries in the line of duty are not typically high-profile and don’t affect fantasy rosters, but they deserve our attention and concern, and their victims help deserve our help – through their short-term recovery and through whatever consequences may surface down the road. Let’s not forget them.

     

    *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.

  • Study shows that head injuries age the brain prematurely

    While head injury has been linked for some time with age-related brain diseases, a new study has shown that head injuries can physically age the brain prematurely.

     

    The study, led by Dr. James Cole of Imperial College London and published in the Annals of Neurology, scanned the brains of 99 people who had suffered brain injuries, some merely one month after the injury and others as many as 46 years later. When compared with the brain structure of healthy people the same age, the head injury victims’ brains appeared an average of five years older.

     

    The study developed a computer model that measures the brain’s white and gray matter to arrive at the estimates, and the scientists are hopeful that it could be useful in the future to identify brain injury victims (and healthy people) who are at greater risk for neurodegenerative diseases later in life. Further study would be required to discover if there are links between “older” brains and such conditions, but if so, people who are at a greater risk could be enrolled in trials and maybe even prescribed pre-emptive treatments. It could be a breakthrough for not only understanding head injuries but also treating neurological disorders before they even surface.

     

    *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.

  • 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.

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