Concussion Course for Coaches Hits a Million Views

 

As concussion awareness has risen, it has become clear that all members of the community– from the unaffiliated bystander to the parents, coaches, athletes, school personnel and medical providers–play an important role in the prevention, detection, diagnosis and management of head injuries in our students.

The National Federation of State High School Associations announced last week that the million mark was passed by coaches taking an online concussion course.  The course, “Concussion in Sports – What You Need to Know,” was designed by the Centers for Disease Control and is free of charge. In some states such a course is now one of the mandated steps required by public school districts to comply with concussion policies.

A brief introduction to the course by the NFHS can be seen here. The CDC course itself is available online here. The CDC also has a free online course for medical providers available here.

More and more communities are requiring sideline personnel to be trained in the new guidelines for concussion management.  With all of the recent publicity it may be hard to believe that many medical providers as well as lay people are still thinking that the old ways are OK.  But we no longer put anyone even suspected of a concussion back in the game or let them “run it off.” And that’s just the start of how things are changing.

The CDC courses have helped raise awareness and should continue to be an integral part of community programs. But often they are just a starting point in what is really a change in our culture that has glorified athletics and sports even if the price has been too steep.

image from Momsteam.com

 

NCAA’s dirty archives. Now what?

 

Here is an article, short and sour, about the NCAA’s history of its internal discussions on concussion management.  “The NCAA’s History with Concussions: A Timeline” is a quick primer and will jet you into the conversation about what the Association should be doing to support its athletes.  It will also make it clear why the NCAA is facing a lawsuit, possibly a class action one.

Compiled and written by Travis Waldron on thinkprogress.org, the brief piece is a shocking timeline of the paranoia and recklessness of the NCAA manifested in its hands-off approach to concussion management in its member schools. This is just the beginning of a much larger conversation that deserves to be in the public realm.

image from sportsonearth.com

Why are we seeing more concussions?

 

Friends and family who have been serious athletes their whole lives have been asking me: What’s this concussion stuff all about anyway?  Is this just another health fad like Omega 3 Fatty acid, Acai, gluten-free food, or yoga?

To help sort out some of this I recommend the article from January 2013 Rolling Stone magazine by Paul Solotaroff called This is Your Brain on Football.  

In addition to being beautifully and soulfully written and a real pleasure to absorb, it makes the following points about the dangers of long term damage and persistent symptoms from too much head trauma:

…PCS (post concussion syndrome) is a crisis of molecular scale, a firestorm of ions leaking in and out of neurons to wreak havoc on their tiny connections. You can’t catch that on an MRI and won’t be able to in the near future. The only way to detect it is through a thorough examination by a concussion-savvy doctor or neurologist.

By way of explaining the cumulative effects:

“.…every hit mattered, from peewees on, and counted toward an unknown threshold number past which brain cells began their die-off.”

 

By way of explaining why so many more now:

“Kids now play and practice one or more sports eight to 10 months a year, so there’s much more exposure to blunt-force trauma – and much less downtime to heal.”

 

By way of explaining how the rules of play themselves need amending:

“When eight-year-olds are hitting each other – in tackle practice – with roughly the same G-forces as college players, what’s badly needed is a paradigm shift, a universal up-draft in thinking.”

 

And the piece ends with a poignant and disturbing story of a “football dad” who is unconvinced by Dr Robert Cantu, considered the guru of concussion and a mom who lost her son to second impact syndrome, a devastating and fortunately rare sudden death following recent concussion. A major problem is a cultural one, acted out by parents,  “many of whom insist on toughening their sons for NFL careers they’ll never have.”