News & Headlines

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Portland Tribune | Feb 15, 2019

The Return-to-Play legislation, which has been adopted by almost every other state, has saved countless young Oregonians from the devasting effects of an injured brain getting rattled again before it heals. Four years later, lawmakers extended those requirements to some recreational sports outside of schools, through Jenna's Law. Since then, they've mostly hoped for the best. Our reporting over the past 18 months shows that such hope was not only misplaced, but also dangerous. For every young Oregonian whose health is protected by our concussion laws, there are multiple others who are not. Here's what our reporting, done in conjunction with InvestigateWest and Reveal, has found.

Portland Tribune | Feb 13, 2019

After Boland suffered that season-ending concussion his junior year, some nights he cried himself to sleep, unsure if his scholarship hopes were over. On Oct. 3, he called his mom and dictated a Facebook post announcing his retirement. "12 years of playing the sport I love has been a really hard journey," he said in the post. It continued, thanking Barnum for keeping him on scholarship. Boland initially received an outpouring of support on social media. But then there was a silence. And all was not right. Where once he was a star, a hometown kid who rose above, a gladiator who was cheered on, now he was an aimless young man navigating life.

ESPN | Feb 12, 2019

MMA legend Wanderlei Silva, who has competed in the sport for 29 years, said in an interview with Brazilian website PVT on Tuesday that he has experienced many CTE-like symptoms. "I was in a lecture about concussions and of the 10 symptoms the guy mentioned, I had eight," Silva, 42, said. "The symptoms would be, for example, mood swings, getting angry very fast, forgetting some things, having difficulty sleeping." Silva said he plans on donating his brain for chronic traumatic encephalopathy research. CTE is a diagnosis only made at autopsy.

Investigate West | Feb 12, 2019

In the next installment of our Rattled: Oregon's Concussion Discussion series, InvestigateWest's Sergio Olmos talks to Jonathan Boland, a once rising star in Oregon football. After suffering four concussions over the course of his career, Boland was left unable to continue on the field and with little motivation for his education. Boland now suspects that concussions played a role in his life’s unraveling. But he says that if you’d have asked him about the impact of brain injuries when he was in high school, “I would have said concussions aren’t real.”

Reveal | Feb 12, 2019
All 50 states and Washington, D.C., have youth concussion laws focused on letting young athletes heal. Most require that athletes be pulled from games or practice until they’re cleared by a health care professional. But important details differ state to state. Of note: No laws specifically address the long-term risk of repeated hits to the head, which currently is a major concern in contact sports, particularly football. Reveal aggregated state laws to create an easy way for you to compare yours with others in a series of graphics.
The Sydney Morning Herald | Feb 12, 2019
Sport Australia launched an updated concussion document today, which is designed to give guidelines to grassroots and professional sports to protect players from brain injuries. Concussion management has become a massive focus in all sports as implement return to play protocols in professional competitions. But Sport Australia wants to target amateur and junior competitions to ensure they have the appropriate tools and information to prioritize athlete health. More than 40 sport and medical organizations have endorsed the concussion position statement, including Rugby Australia, the FFA, Cycling Australia, Basketball Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee.
Sports Illustrated | Feb 11, 2019
A year after his conspicuous absence from the Super Bowl LII broadcast, NBC Sports veteran Bob Costas revealed he was removed from the network's coverage due to comments he made about the NFL's concussion problems. Three months before the Super Bowl, Costas appeared at a journalism symposium at the University of Maryland, where he told the crowd that "the issue [in sports] that is most substantial—the existential issue—is the nature of football itself." "The reality is that this game destroys people's brains—not everyone's, but a substantial number," Costas added during the symposium. "It's not a small number, it's a considerable number. It destroys their brains." Costas was told by NBC afterward that he had "crossed the line" with his commentary about the NFL and concussions.
USA Today | Feb 11, 2019
The Alliance of American Football debuted Saturday to a round of polite applause. The XFL is scheduled for a 2020 return, and other alternative leagues are in the works. In most sports, more opportunity for athletes to play and get paid is a good thing. But football is different. The barebones violence of the sport is enough to leave players damaged forever. Allowing the sort of big hits the NFL has eliminated may be a quick path to revenue for the AAF but would be disastrous for the game of football.
BBC News (UK) | Feb 11, 2019

Family and friends of a former soldier who took his own life while suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) say more support is needed. They're calling for a change in the law that would mean veterans deaths were better recorded when it was related to the time they had served. Danny Johnston went missing in May 2018 and his body was found three days later in woodland near Chichester. Now veteran Daniel Arnold from Portsmouth, who also has PTSD himself, has set up an online support group for other veterans and is calling for a change in the law.

Miami Herald | Feb 11, 2019
The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti, an HBO documentary debuting at 10 p.m. Tuesday, offers an absorbing glimpse into a remarkable life packed with enormous professional success but devastating personal loss. Buoniconti, 78, was healthy enough to conduct the interview from his home and sounds generally cogent throughout, though clearly weakened physically. But he bemoans losing his train of thought at least once during the interview and said: “Everything is jumbled for me. It’s just not possible for me to do it without stumbling.” A Boston University physician who examined Buoniconti in 2017 said “the way Nick appeared, his history and MRI, everything was consistent with CTE,” though the disease cannot be definitively diagnosed until after death.
The Salt Lake Tribune | Feb 8, 2019
The NCAA is facing more than 300 lawsuits from former college football players who claim their concussions were mistreated, leading to medical problems spanning from headaches to depression and, in some cases, early onset Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. The sheer volume of the cases seems daunting, but experts say those seeking damages akin to the NFL's billion-dollar settlement with its former players have a challenging argument to make. The concussion claims come as the NCAA awaits a federal judge's ruling in an antitrust case that challenges the association's right to cap compensation to football and basketball players at the value of an athletic scholarship.
Investigate West | Feb 8, 2019
A key finding of the yearlong investigation was that student-athletes in Oregon get more frequent and more thorough medical evaluations for concussions at schools that employ athletic trainers. Schools with athletic trainers reported twice as many possible concussions per student-athlete as did schools without a professional trainer. Football players at schools with trainers were more than three times as likely to be kept out of play until medically cleared.
The Washington Post | Feb 7, 2019
Veterans are taking their own lives on VA hospital campuses, a desperate form of protest against a system that they feel hasn’t helped them. Sixty-two percent of veterans, or 9 million people, depend on VA’s vast hospital system, but accessing it can require navigating a frustrating bureaucracy. Veterans who take their own lives on VA grounds often intend to send a message, said Eric Caine, director of the Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention at the University of Rochester. “These suicides are sentinel events,” Caine said. “It’s very important for the VA to recognize that the place of a suicide can have great meaning. There is a real moral imperative and invitation here to take a close inspection of the quality of services at the facility level.”
The Guardian | Feb 7, 2019
Nearly 65% of prisoners at a women’s jail may have suffered traumatic brain injuries at some point in their lives, a study has found. Research by the Disabilities Trust and Royal Holloway, University of London, found that of the 173 women screened at Drake Hall prison in Staffordshire answering questions about blows to the head, 64% gave answers consistent with having symptoms of a brain injury. The symptoms of 96% of the women suggested that these arose from physical trauma.
PsyPost | Feb 7, 2019
High blood pressure is more common among individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But new research suggests that not all PTSD symptoms are associated with an increased risk hypertension. The study, which appears in the journal Psychological Medicine, indicates that fear-related symptoms are the primary driver of elevated cardiovascular risk.
Physics World | Feb 7, 2019
Unconsciousness is characterized by an inability to report subjective experience. For patients under anesthesia, or in a more enduring state of unconsciousness caused by brain injury, reliable markers that indicate the presence or absence of consciousness remain elusive. Now, an international team of scientists has reported fMRI-based evidence of distinct patterns of brain activity that could differentiate consciousness from unconsciousness.
WIRED | Feb 7, 2019
Activists, entrepreneurs, and doctors in the US and Canada are working to expand access to psilocybin for anyone with mental health issues. These groups hope to undo decades of psilocybin prohibition by removing criminal penalties for possession or cultivation, or by providing access to psilocybin in a therapist’s offices, or both. Studies suggest that psilocybin can alleviate obsessive-compulsive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, end-of-life anxiety, addiction, cluster headaches, and relieve pain. There’s also growing evidence that ingesting the drug can promote optimism and prosocial and mystical worldviews, and nurture well-being.
Futurity | Feb 5, 2019
Teen athletes who sustained concussions while playing sports recovered more quickly when they underwent a supervised, aerobic exercise regimen, according to a new study. The study is the first randomized clinical trial of a treatment in the acute phase after a sport-related concussion. "This research provides the strongest evidence yet that a prescribed, individualized aerobic exercise program that keeps the heart rate below the point where symptoms worsen is the best way to treat concussion in adolescents," says John J. Leddy, director of the Concussion Management Clinic at UBMD Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.
Psychology Today | Feb 5, 2019
There is sound scientific findings that PTSD and other psychiatric consequences of battle have profound physical effects on brain structure and function. Yet, in 2009, the Pentagon decided not to award the Purple Heart to veterans with PTSD. This decision was supported by the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH). Denying the impact of PTSD is unfair to veterans and has no medical basis.
NPR | Feb 4, 2019
Fears of brain injuries has deterred many parents and their children from choosing to play football. After years of publicity about how dangerous football can be, football enrollment has declined 6.6 percent in the past decade, according to data from the National Federation of State High School Associations. Those who still play the sport are increasingly low-income students.
Los Angeles Times | Feb 4, 2019
It's long been clear that football has a brutal concussion problem. And if you've been following the breathless headlines about the new generation of high-tech helmets now on the market, you might think these expensive, tricked-out helmets are the solution. They're not. Some research has concluded that a well-designed and properly fitted helmet can reduce the risk of concussion, but no helmet can prevent concussion.
Vox | Feb 4, 2019
Football isn't just a contact sport — it's a dangerous game of massive bodies colliding into one another. And while it may seem obvious that this sport can do extraordinary damage to brains and bodies, it's taken far too long for the NFL, the medical community, and football fans to fully reckon with this. Football is still an immensely popular sport in the United States but all the evidence we now have about the very serious risk of brain injuries casts a dim light on the future of the sport. Here are six things to know about the NFL, concussions, and brain damage.
Sports Illustrated | Feb 4, 2019
Earlier this week, in the Southern District of Indiana, dozens of lawsuits were filed by people you've probably never heard of. But I bet you've heard of the central defendant: the NCAA, which is on the other end of what will eventually be more than 200 filings that represent a coordinated effort toward some kind of reckoning on head trauma in the college game.
The Boston Globe | Feb 4, 2019
Ten years ago this week, I wrote my first story about chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the incurable brain disease linked to head blows in football. Since then, I've spent years examining the work of CTE researchers, the NFL's practices, and the heart-wrenching stories of former players who died with the disease and those who are living with its symptoms.
Men's Health | Feb 4, 2019
Heading the ball or knocking your head against the goalpost during a game of soccer might seem like NBD. But if you're dizzy and a bit disoriented and hope to just "shake it off" and carry on, you might be making a big mistake. Following a head injury, watch out for the symptoms of concussion, including headache, difficulty concentrating, and confusion. “That means it’s not healed yet,” says Edward Benzel, M.D., a neurosurgeon with the Cleveland Clinic. That goes even if you hit your head hard but didn’t think you had a concussion, because it’s possible to have brain injury and not know it.