Do No Harm: Retired NFL Players Endure a Lifetime of Hurt
The Washington Post / May 20, 2013
They remember the hard hits – most of them, at least. The brain-rattlers that left them blank-eyed and disoriented, they have no recollection of at all. But the ones that snapped ligaments, rendered bones the consistency of crushed ice or bent joints in ways they ought not to bend are still felt every morning years later. A career in the National Football League creates echoes good and bad. Some reverberate in medical records, others in luxuries from rich contracts. But the most vivid ones for many former players come when they get out of bed each day and put their feet on the floor. If the NFL confers wealth – a rookie’s base pay next season will be $405,000 – it exacts a heavy price: lifelong hurt. A Washington Post survey of retired NFL players found that nearly nine in 10 report suffering from aches and pains on a daily basis, and they overwhelmingly – 91 percent – connect nearly all their pains to football.
NFL Retirees Happy with Football Career Despite Lasting Pain
The Washington Post / May 20, 2013
A survey of NFL retirees finds broad satisfaction with playing in the league, even as many report continuing pain from football careers.
Warrior Games 2013: Airman Faces Challenge at Games as TBI Victim
US Air Force / May 20, 2013
By looking at him, you would never be able to tell he is a battle-tested, combat-injured Airman. He is a testament to invisible wounds and just how their effects can become visible in everyday life. Capt. Mitchell Kieffer is a mathematician at heart and an operations research analyst at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. The three-time Air Force triathlete and personal trainer was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., working at the Air Force Research Laboratory there when he got the opportunity he had been waiting for - a deployment. He had volunteered to go into an engineering job at AFRL to increase his chances of deploying. He got his wish in 2010 and left for Iraq with a team from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Concussion: State Laws Ignore Science
Medpage Today / May 21, 2013
State lawmakers are moving quickly to enact traumatic brain injury legislation aimed at protecting young athletes, but those laws are often a step ahead of the available science, researchers reported. During a 4-year period from January 2009 through December 2011 44 states and Washington, DC enacted traumatic brain injury laws, reported Hosea H. Harvey, JD, PhD, at Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia. "Youth sports traumatic brain injury laws have generally taken a one-size-fits-all approach," Harvey wrote online in the American Journal of Public Health. "The laws do not incorporate scientific consensus that youth concussions vary on the basis of age, the type of sport, and whether the athlete is male or female."
Military Discharges, Rather than Treats
San Francisco Chronicle / May 22, 2013
The U.S. Army has discharged escalating numbers of traumatized combat veterans who commit crimes and in ways that make them ineligible for Veterans Administration health assistance, The Gazette of Colorado Springs reports. The Gazette found that the numbers of combat veterans discharged has risen since 2006. Many have post-traumatic stress disorder or brain damage. An unknown number of those veterans have committed crimes since returning to the United States. More than 13,000 have been discharged them under a provision called Chapter 10, which prevents them from being eligible for Veterans Administration benefits that include treatment for combat-related psychiatric disorders. It's unclear how many suffered from combat-related wounds that may have driven them to misconduct.
Food Stamp Cuts Feared by Veterans
The Huffington Post / May 22, 2013
Veterans have a reminder for the Senate as it takes up plans to cut food stamps by $4.1 billion this week: The aid has been -- and still is -- vital to people who served their country. For Iraq veteran Don Martinez, 33, food stamps kept his children fed while he struggled with getting recognition for the traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress he suffered after close encounters with several rocket and mortar attacks and a humvee rollover. "Coming off the second deployment back into civilian life, we just had to do what we had to do," said Martinez, an artillery captain, recalling how in 2006 the military did not recognize the severity of his disabilities. For several years, Martinez said, the military paid him only a fraction of what he needed to support his family while he sought treatment.
After Taking Blow to Head, Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe Placed on 7-Day DL with Concussion
The Washington Post / May 23, 2013
The Minnesota Twins placed third baseman Trevor Plouffe on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion Wednesday after he was struck in the head by Dan Uggla’s shin while breaking up an attempted double play. Plouffe was injured in the 10th inning of Tuesday night’s 5-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves. He slammed into Uggla’s leg sliding into second base and remained down for a few minutes before walking slowly to the dugout, holding his head. During an examination for concussion-related symptoms, Plouffe showed sensitivity to light. He said he was “feeling better” a day later, but Twins weren’t taking any chances.
Maryland Board Adopts Regulations to Better Protect Student-Athletes from Concussions
The Washington Post / May 23, 2013
The Maryland State Board of Education adopted regulations Tuesday to better protect student-athletes from concussions by requiring that school systems provide more training to coaches and other instructors and strengthen protocols for addressing head injuries. In addition, the state board plans to convene an advisory group to recommend limits on contact exposure in sports in which concussions can occur. The unanimous vote came after a months-long process, which included the adoption of emergency regulations and the formation of a 21-member task force of physicians, athletic trainers and school administrators.
Family Caregivers Find Support in New Web-Based Tool
The Washington Post / May 29, 2013
Caring for a sick, aging or dying loved one is not easy, yet millions of Americans do it. CareSolver, a Web-based tool developed by the Harvard Innovation Lab, is attempting to relieve some of the stress and burnout experienced by caregivers by organizing, coordinating and managing care plans. Caregivers fill out an online questionnaire about their loved one’s condition and needs. The Web tool then produces a care plan with recommendations from a team of clinical professionals. Many of the recommendations are nonclinical. For example, caregivers can minimize the risk of falls by removing throw rugs from the house and installing wall-to-wall carpeting, says Shana Hoffman, one of CareSolver’s creators and an MBA student at Harvard Business School. Each recommendation comes with instructions and how-to videos.
From Trauma to Tau
Science Codex / May 30, 2013
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers have uncovered what may be a key molecular mechanism behind the lasting damage done by traumatic brain injury. The discovery centers on a particular form of a protein that neuroscientists call tau, which has also been associated with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions. Under ordinary conditions, tau is essential to neuron health, but in Alzheimer's the protein aggregates into two abnormal forms: so-called "neurofibrillary tangles," and collections of two, three, or four or more tau units known as "oligomers." Neurofibrillary tangles are not believed to be harmful, but tau oligomers are toxic to nerve cells. They also are thought to have an additional damaging property — when they come into contact with healthy tau proteins, they cause them to also clump together into oligomers, and so spread toxic tau oligomers to other parts of the brain.
Bright Light Therapy May Improve Sleep and Promote Recovery in Patients with Mild TBI
Health Canal / May 31, 2013
A new study suggests that bright light therapy may improve sleep, cognition, emotion and brain function following mild traumatic brain injury. Results show that six weeks of morning bright light therapy resulted in a marked decrease in subjective daytime sleepiness. This improvement was further associated with improvements in the propensity to fall asleep and nighttime sleep quality. Bright light therapy also affected depressive symptoms. “Our preliminary data suggests that morning bright light therapy might be helpful to reduce subjective daytime sleepiness and to improve nighttime sleep,” said investigator Mareen Weber, PhD, instructor in psychiatry at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Belmont, Mass. “Importantly, the research also shows changes in brain activation during a demanding cognitive task, suggesting that bright light treatment might yield changes in brain functioning.”
Helping Children Play Safely in Sports
The New York Times / June 3, 2013
Millions of children participate in organized sports, activities that are important to their social and physical development. While sports also may place children at risk of injuries, most are preventable if participants, their parents and their coaches heed some well-researched safety measures. In an article published last month in The New York Times, the sportswriter Bill Pennington noted that although much attention is now focused on concussions, there are more deadly hazards — sudden cardiac arrest and heat stroke — that active children, parents and coaches should know about and do more to prevent. Less serious but often debilitating injuries can usually be avoided by attending to guidelines developed by organizations like the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, the National Alliance for Youth Sports and the Youth Sports Safety Alliance.
With Latest Hit, a Penguin Further Injures His Image
The New York Times / June 3, 2013
Penguins forward Matt Cooke is finding it hard to escape his reputation as a dangerous cheap-shot artist. ooke was called for a major penalty and a game misconduct for checking Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid from behind in the second period of the opener of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night. After the incident, the game devolved into a series of questionable hits, shouting matches and fights. The distracted Penguins lost, 3-0, the first time they had been shut out in 97 games. On Sunday, the N.H.L. said it would not further discipline Cooke. He will be available to play in Game 2 here Monday night.
Really? Cycling Is the Top Sport for Head Injuries
The New York Times / June 4, 2013
Last week, New York City began its long-awaited bicycle sharing program, the largest in the nation. As in many other cities, helmet use was made optional, in part to encourage greater participation. But a look at the statistics suggests that riding without a helmet is not a decision to make lightly. While football tends to dominate the discussion of sports-related head injuries, research shows that bike accidents account for far more traumatic brain injuries each year. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, cycling accidents played a role in about 86,000 of the 447,000 sports-related head injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2009. Football accounted for 47,000 of those head injuries, and baseball played a role in 38,394.
Arlington Skateboarder Hanging onto Truck Dies Following Mishap
The Washington Post / June 5, 2013
John Malvar was supposed to walk down the aisle with his Washington-Lee High School classmates at graduation in just over two weeks. Last Friday, he had gone to the prom. An Instagram photo shows him in a tuxedo, hamming for the camera. The 18-year-old was in the “prime of his life,” his father said. Eager to go to college at Virginia Commonwealth University, eager to start working toward his goal of becoming a nurse. “He was a good kid,” said his father, George Malvar. “He’s always smiling, and everybody liked him.” On Tuesday, John Malvar got on a skateboard and held on to a pickup truck driven by a friend. In the 300 block of South Highland Street in Arlington County, police said, the young man lost his grip and fell. He suffered “significant head trauma” and later was pronounced dead at an area hospital, police said.
New Helmet-Mounted Sensor Aims to Combat the Dangers of Concussions in Football
Deseret News / June 5, 2013
During the final padded practice of the season last fall, Treyden Charlesworth wasn’t acting dangerously. He was just a typical kid playing the game he loved, and it was his turn for an ordinary tackling drill in the Wasatch Front Football League. The 7-year-old doesn't remember anything about what happened in the drill, however. That's because Charlesworth experienced concussion symptoms when his head collided with the ground after sustaining a legal, fundamentally sound blow. “At first he was a little bit glazed,” said Treyden’s father, Tyler Charlesworth, a well-renowned Utah high school football official. “Then as we started dealing with him a little more, he was having a hard time (remembering) what day it is and what (his) brother’s name (was). He was taking a long time to process that information.”
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales Admits to Killing 16 Afghans
The Washington Post / June 6, 2013
In an unemotional, almost rote capitulation of one of the worst atrocities of the Afghanistan war, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales on Wednesday acknowledged rampaging through two villages, killing 16 Afghan civilians and burning many of their bodies. He had little to offer as explanation for the killings. When asked by a military judge why he had carried out the March 2012 rampage, the 39-year-old Bales was matter-of-fact in his response: “I’ve asked that question a million times, and there is not a good reason in the world for the horrible things I did.”
Panel Advises NHL to Mandate Visors for New Players
The New York Times / June 7, 2013
The N.H.L. competition committee recommended Tuesday that visors be mandated beginning next season for new players, but it said veteran players should be allowed to opt out through a grandfather clause. The players association was polled in the last week and voted in favor of the plan, said the union’s special assistant to the executive director, Mathieu Schneider. The recommendation will be presented to the N.H.L.’s Board of Governors and the union’s executive committee, which are expected to approve it. “I think today we were able to accomplish a lot,” Schneider said. “We were able to get consensus.”
Brain Injuries Plague City Jail Inmates
The New York World / June 7, 2013
Health officials have discovered a disturbing trend among adolescents incarcerated at Rikers Island — an extremely high prevalence of traumatic brain injuries. In Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) study conducted last year, health officials found that 50 percent of male juveniles incarcerated at Rikers have experienced significant traumatic brain injuries. The rate among young women was even higher at 65 percent. The average rate among Americans is around 8.5 percent and the leading causes are falls, traffic accidents and assaults. Research has shown that such head injuries can be debilitating. People who have suffered what is commonly referred to as “TBI” can experience memory difficulties and behavioral problems, or even depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders and suicidal thoughts.
Why Did the Penguins Let Brooks Orpik Keep Playing After This Hit?
Deadspin / June 7, 2013
One cannot easily diagnose traumatic brain injury by way of a television feed—some big hits can be harmless, and some small ones can pack an unexpected punch. But, watching on TV last night, it was hard to think Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, whose head was rammed into the glass by 228-pound Bruin Milan Lucic midway through the second overtime period, was all right. Orpik is ordinarily the Pens' most reliable defensive defenseman. He's a good skater, and he's alert out there, too. He knows very well what happens when one tries to skate with one's head down, because he's usually the one delivering the big hits.
Hospitals Want to Test Drug with No Consent
The Boston Globe / June 10, 2013
A group of Boston doctors is proposing to join a study that would provide emergency treatment for brain-injured patients without obtaining the trauma victims’ consent, arguing that they often arrive at the hospital unconscious or without family members who can speak on their behalf. Federal law and the generally accepted ethics of medical research require that patients or their surrogates be told about any risks of participating in a study and have the chance to refuse enrollment. But the law allows for an exemption in certain cases involving emergency care. This would be the first study using the exemption at a Boston hospital since the Food and Drug Administration created the rules allowing it in 1996, said Dr. James Feldman, an investigator and the chairman of a Boston University Medical Campus panel that reviews research.
Old Head Injury Delays Recovery from Concussion
MedPage Today / June 10, 2013
Children who've sustained a recent concussion take far longer to recover if they've already had a mild traumatic brain injury, a prospective cohort study found. Among youth seen in the emergency department (ED) for concussion, the time until symptom resolution was doubled for those who had a history of the injury (24 versus 12 days, P=0.02), according to Matthew A. Eisenberg, MD, and colleagues from Harvard Medical School in Boston. And the symptomatic period nearly tripled in children who'd had a concussion within the previous 12 months, at 35 days (P=0.007), the researchers reported online in Pediatrics.
Questions Linger About Death of Former Quarterback
The New York Times / June 10, 2013
To find the Lake County Sheriff Department, drive north from Grand Rapids, then west on U.S. Route 10. Drive past the billboard advertising “year-round fun,” past the closed restaurants and boarded-up houses, past the Tin Cup Trailhead, the Shrine of the Pines sign and the Cattail Cafe. On the last Friday in May, a couple came to report a stolen butterfly sign. Lost dog posters hung from the wall, next to homemade bail bonds advertisements. Dennis Robinson, the undersheriff, settled behind his desk after lunch, surrounded by trophies with dog figurines on top, which he had accumulated for canine training.
Mouth Guards May Sense Possible Concussions
The New York Times / June 10, 2013
Students at a New York State high school are helping test new technology that could someday alert football coaches that an athlete might have sustained a concussion. The Times Herald-Record of Middletown reported that students at Middletown High School wore impact-sensing mouth guards during practices over the past week.
Concussion Prescription: A Year on the Bench for Youngsters?
National Public Radio / June 11, 2013
The moms at Saturday's soccer game let out a collective wow as a 10-year-old girl headed the ball away from the net. Then one next to me said, "Should they be doing that?" Another said, "I don't think so." But none of us yelled: "Hey, kids, no heading the ball! Head injuries are a big problem for young athletes, who may be more vulnerable for a year after having a concussion, according to research published Monday. That means students and their parents may have to think hard about when it's safe to return to play.
Osama Bin Laden Raid Member Has Traumatic Brain Injury
The Huffington Post / June 11, 2013
As the trial of Bradley Manning entered its fourth day on Monday, a filing from one potential prosecution witness revealed a startling fact: One of the members of the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound has had memory loss stemming from traumatic brain injuries. Government prosecutors may call the raid member, identified only as "John Doe," to prove that files released by Manning to WikiLeaks wound up in bin Laden's possession. The filing was made on April 29 and released to the public on June 4. The raid member, presumably a Navy SEAL, says they have "occasional short-term memory deficiencies" that include forgetting "where I placed my car keys." Those memory issues started "two to three years ago," apparently before the bin Laden raid, according to the filing. The cause: "repetitive (traumatic brain injury), but not major trauma. I had consistent small doses over time."
To Prevent Brain Damage, Soccer Players Should Keep 'Head Counts'
The Los Angeles Times / June 12, 2013
Heading the ball is a key soccer skill, but a new study finds that players who headed the ball frequently were more likely to suffer brain injury and damage their memory than their fellow players who were a little less headstrong, so to speak. While sports like football (the American variety) and ice hockey garner most of the attention when it comes to concussions and other forms of traumatic brain injury (TBI), soccer is an intense physical sport for which the head can be as important as the foot. But since research hasn’t linked heading to concussions, players, coaches and medical professionals have generally stayed on the sidelines with regard to its health risks.
Bike Sharing Can Mean Safer Biking
The New York Times / June 13, 2013
It took only a few days for reports of the first cycling accident involving New York’s new bike sharing program to begin circulating. But experts and growing experience from bike sharing programs in other cities make clear that bicycling can be a safe mode of transportation, and the presence of a bike sharing program is a boon to the safety of all bicyclists. “A number of studies have looked at increased biking, and the result is that the more people bike in a community, the less likely they are to collide with motorists,” said David Vlahov, the dean of nursing at the University of California, San Francisco. “It is likely due to motorists becoming more aware or expecting more to be riding bicycles.”
NZ Study Shows Pine Bark Extract Successfully Treats Brain Injuries
New Zealand Doctor / June 13, 2013
Every day some 100 New Zealanders sustain a brain injury ranging from mild to severe. Acquired brain injury including stroke and traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of disability and death in this country. Research undertaken by AUT University, and recently published in the peer-reviewed European Journal of Neurology, investigating the use of Enzogenol (Pinus Radiata bark extract) to treat traumatic brain injury (TBI) promises hope to thousands of sufferers.
Can Oxygen Therapy Help Brain Injury Victims Recovery? The Story of Michael Coss
The Vancouver Sun / June 13, 2013
Six years ago, Michael Coss was on his way to a promotional event in Kamloops when he swerved to avoid an animal crossing the Coquihalla Highway. The car accident that followed left the then-38-year-old Molson marketer with a diffuse (widespread) brain injury and put him in a coma for six-and-a-half months. “His entire brain was damaged,” said Bob Coss, Michael’s father. “The doctors said that if he survived, he would never eat or walk or speak on his own again. And he would need to spend the remainder of his life in a long-term care service.”
Dept. of Defense Creates World's First Brain Tissue Bank
US Department of Defense / June 14, 2013
The Defense Department has established the world's first brain tissue repository to help researchers understand the underlying mechanisms of traumatic brain injury in service members, Pentagon officials announced yesterday. The announcement follows a symposium that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel convened, in which a group of senior defense officials and experts in the medical field and from outside organizations discussed advancements and areas of collaboration regarding traumatic brain injury. "We have been at war for more than a decade, and our men and women have sacrificed," said Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. "The military health care system is bringing all the resources it can to better understand how to prevent, diagnose and treat traumatic brain injuries and to ensure that service members have productive and long, quality lives.
DC United's Pontius Out with Concussion
The Washington Post / June 14, 2013
Just as D.C. United was beginning to regain its health, the injury bug struck again. Midfielder Chris Pontius (concussion) and defenders Ethan White (hip flexor) and James Riley (adductor) will miss Saturday’s match against Toronto FC at RFK Stadium after suffering setbacks in Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup game, the club announced. Defender Dejan Jakovic (adductor) and midfielder Kyle Porter (calf) are listed as questionable.
A Wearable Alert to Head Injuries in Sports
The New York Times / June 17, 2013
Hard knocks to the head are a constant concern in contact sports — and not just in football or boxing, where recent attention has focused. Millions of girls and boys play hockey, soccer, lacrosse and other sports where blows to the head from collisions and falls are part of the game, even in youth leagues and on high school teams. [Image] Head injuries can come from a single jarring impact during a game, or from a series of smaller jolts. But in the midst of play, many blows aren’t necessarily easy to spot by coaches, physicians or parents in attendance. A crop of new lightweight devices that athletes can wear on the field may help people on sidelines keep better track of hits to players’ heads during games and practice sessions. The devices, packed with sensors and microprocessors, register a blow to a player’s skull and immediately signal the news by blinking brightly, or by sending a wireless alert.
Concussion Patients Show Alzheimer's-Like Brain Abnormalities
Science Codex / June 18, 2013