Check Up from the Neck Up
Insights and perspectives on injury prevention, rehabilitation, health and fitness
After reading an article entitled “This is your brain on Football” by Paul Solotaroff, which appeared in the January issue of Rolling Stone, I felt a deep sense of sadness for the parents mentioned in the article who had lost their teenage children due to football related injuries: more specifically from concussions. I couldn’t help but think about a period of time, approximately two years ago when my own teenager, now 17 years of age had reported symptoms of a concussion including headaches, blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, nausea, not to mention ringing in his ears. Just like the boys in the article, my son did not want to worry me; he failed to mention the few occasions when he hit his head or collided with another player. I shudder to think about what these families must be going though and the millions of kids that are still at risk. “The new science of concussions proves that high school football is America’s most dangerous game” according to the author Paul Solotaroff.
Dr. Robert Cantu, the prominent neurosurgeon out of Boston and undisputed concussion expert, has stated that a lineman in the NFL, on one 80 yard drive, can sustain up to 18 sub-concussive blows. 18! 15,000 in a ten year NFL career! With that in mind, what is more dangerous to the athletes – Concussive Blows or Sub-Concussive Blows?
The goal of my LinkedIn group “Strengthen Your Neck – Protect Your Brain” is to save lives by saving brains. That is seriously why I started the group. I have a personal motivation as to why. I played football with two good friends at UCLA: Mark Tuinei, of the Dallas Cowboys, and Luis Sharpe, of the Arizona Cardinals. Both had long productive NFL careers – Mark is dead and Luis has been in and out of prison and rehab for years. The cause? CTE – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Damage to their brains that brought on severe depression. It is the same disease that effected Junior Seau.
We as strength coaches, coaches of contact sports, parents, and trainers must do all we can to protect the brains of the athletes under our care and educate all to the dangers of concussions and the more deadly sub-concussive blows. The consequences of not doing all we can are not acceptable.