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Boston Globe Explores Cantu’s ‘Tangled’ Connections in the Concussion Industry

Investigative journalism is a lost art in America today.

That’s why we didn’t see an article on the most prominent man in the concussion crisis, Bob Cantu, until now.

That is not to say Cantu is guilty of anything, except trying to raising the consciousness about a very important issue. It is just that the litany of connections he has in the concussion industry deserve further examination.

In an article in the December 28 Boston Globe, journalist Bob Hohler wrote:

“Cantu’s roots in the field have grown so tangled that his connections with parties on many sides of the concussion crisis have become emblematic of the conflicting interests in the football, helmet, medical, and scientific communities.”

The article focuses specifically on one of the organizations that Cantu “helps guide” — the safety organization called the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.

“NOCSAE has long been primarily funded by the nation’s football helmet manufacturers, and those companies generally have opposed allowing aftermarket safety products — primarily impact sensors that measure hits to the head and soft-shell caps aimed at cushioning the blows — to be added to their helmets, citing liability issues,” according to the article.

“Cantu has served for 17 years as a vice president of NOCSAE. The nonprofit was formed in 1969 by a coalition of athletic organizations, health interests, and sporting goods manufacturers to improve helmet safety after 36 college and high school football players died the previous year of neck and head injuries. Many of those injuries involved skull fractures, which rarely occur today.

“Helmet executives have long served on NOCSAE’s board of directors and now control four of the board’s 16 votes.

“‘It’s the definition of a conflict of interest,’ said Stefan Duma, who heads the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences and has led several independent studies of helmets and concussions. ‘If nearly 100 percent of your money comes from the manufacturers, then it’s difficult to say you’re independent of them.'”

To see the full article, visit: http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/12/29/america-concussion-doctor-navigates-tangled-web-connections/SKKOnbhJvw0kx1VEnk1ZNP/story.html

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Sports Legacy Institute Partners with MLL to Create Concussion Program for 2013

The Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), a Boston-based non-profit organization founded “to advance the study, treatment and prevention of brain trauma in athletes and other at-risk groups,” and Major League Lacrosse (MLL), the leading professional outdoor lacrosse league, have partnered to create “an innovative comprehensive” concussion program for the 2013 season, the two entities announced late last week.

The policies, developed by SLI Medical Director Robert Cantu, MD, and SLI Executive Director Chris Nowinski, combine “best practices” from peer sports leagues, while adding new elements focusing on education, reporting, assessment, and management.

MLL Commissioner David Gross said he asked SLI “to develop the most aggressive program in professional sports so that we can protect our players’ long-term health, ensure longevity of their careers and set a strong example for youth and college sports programs to make concussion care and training a priority.”

The program elements include:

“· Education: To accelerate culture change, MLL players will participate in two educational sessions, one before and one during the season, as well as be required to complete an online training program and view the documentary Head Games. Coaches, general managers, referees and medical personnel will all be required to meet a minimum educational standard.

· Remove-from-play: MLL will become the first professional sports organization to mandate the King-Devick test—an objective rapid sideline screening test of concussions that a growing body of studies show is an effective test for concussion—as an additional sideline assessment tool.

· Concussion Check: A new concept developed by SLI, MLL will pilot a program designed to improve concussion reporting by training MLL personnel to recognize concussion signs and symptoms and emphasize that they have a responsibility to alert the team medical staff or referee. If a teammate, coach, general manager, athletic trainer, physician/doctor, equipment manager, opposing team physician or referee triggers a concussion check, the player must be removed and evaluated by the medical team using the new MLL Sideline Assessment Tool.

· Concussion Caretaker: A new concept developed by SLI, when a player is diagnosed with a concussion, MLL medical staffs will educate at least one family member and/or caretaker, designated by the player before the season, on concussion management and how to support an athlete recovering from a concussion.

· Research: MLL will encourage teams to participate in innovative research, including participating in the SLI Hit CountTM Initiative, and encouraging players to participate in research programs, including the brain donation program at the Boston University Center for Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.”

Cantu, who serves as an advisor to the National Football League and National Football League Players Association, said he was “excited about the opportunity to raise the bar and pilot new concepts.”

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