Monthly Archives: January 2014
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed the Mississippi Youth Concussion Act into law yesterday, meaning that every state in the nation now has a youth sports concussion law.
The legislation, according to the NFL, “contains three core principles:
- Concussion education for young athletes and parents
- Immediate removal of an athlete suspected of sustaining a concussion or brain injury
- Mandatory clearance of the athlete by an appropriate health care provider – including a licensed physician, a licensed nurse practitioner or licensed physician assistant, who is trained in the evaluation and management of concussions – before returning to practice or competition.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said passage of the Act, which applies to school-sponsored/interscholastic sports in Grades 7 through 12, is “an important moment for all young athletes and their parents. During a week when all eyes are on the football field, we congratulate Mississippi leaders on helping to protect young players, no matter what sport they play. We will continue to focus on making our game better and safer and setting the right example for all athletes when it comes to health and safety.”
The non-profit Sports Legacy Institute (www.sportslegacy.org) announced earlier this week “a major advance in the effort to prevent concussions and brain damage in contact sports” with the launch of the Hit Count® certification program after two years of development.
Hit Count® builds on the progress that head sensor device companies have made in developing devices that can measure acceleration of the head. Current products used on the field are focused on alerting coaches, medical professionals, and parents when a potential concussive impact occurs.
Inspired by Pitch Counts baseball, which set limits to the number of times a player throws from the mound to prevent arm injury, Hit Count® Certified Devices will have a second function that measures and “Counts” impacts that exceed the Hit Count® Threshold, set by a committee of leading scientists, with the goal of minimizing brain injury.
“Research using sensor devices has revealed that each year in the United States, there are over 1.5 billion impacts to the heads of youth and high school football players,” said Chris Nowinski, Founding Executive Director of SLI who launched the Hit Count® initiative in 2012 with SLI Medical Director Dr. Robert Cantu. “Most hits are unnecessary and occur in practice. By utilizing Hit Count® certified products as a teaching tool for coaches and a behavior modification tool for athletes, we can eliminate over 500 million head impacts next season.”
Committee member Gerry Gioia, PhD, of Children’s National Medical Center and George Washington University School of Medicine, unveiled that the Hit Count® Threshold will be set at the subconcussive level of 20 g’s of linear acceleration. “This is the beginning of a major research and public health effort to limit brain trauma in sports. While current science does not provide a “safe” or “unsafe” Hit Count®, our goal is to eventually provide clear guidance for coaches and parents. We will need the youth sports, sensor manufacturer, and medical science communities to work together to provide reliable answers.”
Hit Count® Certified products will go through “a rigorous test protocol” developed by the University of Ottawa Neurotrauma Impact Laboratory in conjunction with engineers from the six Hit Count® Initiative sponsors, including Battle Sports Science, G-Force Tracker, i1Biometrics, Impakt Protective, MC10, and Triax.
“Head sensor devices involve complex technology, and many sensors on the market today are not accurate,” said Dr. Blaine Hoshizaki, Director of the Neurotrauma Lab that developed the test, which is open to any company in the space. “Hit Count® Certification, the first and only sensor certification in the marketplace, will give consumer and research scientists the confidence that the sensors are accurately measuring impacts, providing simple and actionable data.”
G-Force Tracker, which is implanted inside football, ice hockey, and lacrosse helmets, is the first company to be Hit Count® Certified, with more products expected to be tested and certified later this year.
The “blue ribbon” consensus committee that set the threshold included Drs. Robert Cantu and Ann McKee of Boston University, Kevin Guskiewicz of the University of North Carolina, David Hovda of UCLA, Gerry Gioia of Children’s National Medical Center, Blain Hoshizaki of the University of Ottawa, William Meehan of Harvard Medical School, and Kelly Sarmiento of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Physical and cognitive rest are traditionally what doctors prescribe for patients who suffer sport-related concussions. But a new approach to treating post-concussion syndrome may actually help athletes get back in the game quicker, according to Karl Kozlowski, PhD, assistant professor of kinesiology at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.
Kozlowski is pioneering a treatment program for patients who suffer from post-concussion syndrome (PCS). PCS is defined as three or more concussion symptoms that persist at least three weeks after the injury. Past treatments for the condition have failed to demonstrate success. Kozlowski’s treatment, which prescribes a regulated exercise routine, is among the first to offer real hope to those who suffer.
“We started out wanting to determine if athletes who suffer from post-concussion syndrome could exercise at a level that wouldn’t bring out symptoms but would allow them to stay conditioned while recuperating,” says Kozlowski.
To do this, Kozlowski and his co-researchers tested patients’ threshold for exercise. From that, they developed a low-level workout program (maybe 10 or 15 minutes) for each. Patients were asked to keep track of their symptoms and within three weeks, they reported feeling better. New regimens were tailored and after several months of this routine, concussion symptoms were significantly reduced or went away entirely for the patients.
“We found that gradual exercise, rather than rest alone, actually helps to restore the balance of the brain’s auto-regulation mechanism, which controls the blood pressure and supply to the brain,” says Kozlowski.
While confident the new treatment can help reduce concussion symptoms, Kozlowski emphasizes that it’s too soon to call the exercise treatment a cure, as some patients respond faster or better than others.