Monthly Archives: October 2013

Comment by McKee in ‘League of Denial’ Takes a Hit

The shocking comment was featured in the trailer for “League of Denial” and at the beginning of the 2-hour special, which aired on Frontline Tuesday night.

“I’m really wondering if at some level every single football player has this,” said Boston University neuropathologist Ann McKee, in speaking about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

The opinion of McKee isn’t to be taken lightly, given that she has studied the brains of 46 ex-NFL players, and found CTE in 45 of them. At the same time, the comment seems to brush past the notion that people are affected differently by concussions and subconcussive hits.

Brian Hainline, a neurologist who became the NCAA’s Chief Medical Officer in January, told the Birmingham News in a story that ran Wednesday that there is no data to prove that athletes who suffer concussions are more susceptible to long-term brain injuries.

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“The overwhelming majority of athletes who have a concussion, they recover from a concussion,” he told the paper. “I think there’s a subgroup of athletes who either have a genetic susceptibility or they have repeated concussions or subconcussions and the brain has not gone into recovery mode and they become susceptible to long-term brain issues.”

Hainline noted that many people, who suffer from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s diseases, have never experienced head trauma. The paper paraphrased Hainline as saying CTE has features of those diseases, but the science is evolving. “Theories such as genetics, drug use, stimulants and psychiatric disease are ‘very possible reasons’ some players absorb subconcussive impacts worse than others,” the article continued.

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Canadian Football Player Sues University over Concussion

(Editor’s Note: Jon Heshka, Associate Dean of Law at Thompson Rivers University, recently provided his expert analysis on a recent lawsuit brought by a student athlete in Canada against Bishop’s University)

A victim of bad timing following the NFL’s $765 million settlement with ex-football players in which the league admitted no wrongdoing in relation to brain injuries sustained on the playing field, a Canadian football player has sued his former university for brain injuries sustained during a 2011 game.John_Heshka24982

Former defensive end Kevin Kwasny has sued Bishop’s University – based in Sherbrooke, Quebec – in a Manitoba court for $7.5 million alleging he was forced to play despite having symptoms of a concussion during a September 10, 2011 game.

Kwasny alleges he took a blow to his head during the game and told multiple members of the coaching staff that he felt dizzy, had blurred vision and felt like he had “his bell rung.” He further alleges that he was ordered to play despite having these concussion symptoms.

Shortly after returning to the field, Kwasny was hit again and suffered a subdural hematoma (bleeding on the brain). Emergency surgery was performed and he was put in a medically-induced coma. Kwasny now has permanent brain damage and has lost use of the right side of his body. The statement of claim says he will never be able to work again.

Kwasny alleges that coaches and trainers failed to assess him for signs and/or symptoms of a concussion or head injury as required or at all.

Bishop’s University Principal and Vice-Chancellor denies the university did anything wrong saying, “Our football program, our coaches, our medical staff would not allow an athlete to go back on the field if there was any indication of head trauma.” At the time, coaches reviewed game film and were unable to pinpoint any hit or play that caused an injury.

Though they had yet to receive a copy of the statement of claim and were unable to comment specifically, Bishop’s University released a statement saying that a thorough review had been undertaken which showed that from the moment the sports medicine team and coaching staff became aware of a potential injury they took all necessary precautions to ensure Kwasny received immediate medical care.

Bishop’s University has yet to file a statement of defense. None of these allegations have been proven in court.

(Heshka went on to write about case law that is relevant to the instant lawsuit as well as strategies that may be employed. To read the full story, visit https://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/concussion-litigation-reporter/)

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A Q&A With Dr. Julie Gilchrist of CDC Injury Center

Dr. Julie Gilchrist works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Injury Center. Below she answers a few questions on the CDC’s Heads Up campaign and how the CDC is working to help keep young athletes safe from concussion and other serious brain injuries.

How are the CDC and NFL working together on addressing concussion among young athletes?

Over the last 6 years, CDC and the NFL have worked together to help get concussion educational materials into the hands of coaches, parents, kids and teens, and school and health care professionals nationwide. Two examples of this work include:

  • CDC worked with the NFL, NFLPA and 16 sports governing bodies to develop the “Concussion:  A Must Read for Young Athletes” fact sheet and poster for young athletes. To date, more than 1 million copies of these materials have been distributed.
  • Through a grant from the NFL to the CDC Foundation, CDC launched the “Heads Up to Clinicians” online training for health care professionals, created to help improve concussion diagnosis and management for young athletes.

What is the CDC’s Heads Up campaign?

Heads Up is a group of educational initiatives, developed by the CDC, which share a common goal: to help protect children and teens from concussions and other serious brain injuries both on and off the sports field. This year marks the 10th anniversary of CDC’s Heads Up.

What materials are available from CDC’s Heads Up campaign?

We tailor our materials based on our audience. We offer information for:

  • Coaches: Online training for high school and youth sports coaches on concussion, as well as fact sheets and posters coaches can download for their team. The online training is used by states, schools, and sports organizations, including USA Football and the National PTA, to help spread concussion information out throughout the country.
  • Parents: CDC Foundation’s “Heads Up to Parents” website and app that includes concussion and helmet safety information: www.cdcfoundation.org/HeadsUp.
  • School Professionals: Fact sheets, posters, and other tools school professionals can use, including information on helping students return to school after a concussion.
  • Health Care Professionals: Latest information on concussion diagnosis and management to help kids and teens recover quickly and fully.

All of CDC’s Heads Up materials are free and can be found online at www.cdc.gov/Concussion.

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