While I have been away from writing this blog, there has been more concussion news than I can remember. And as always, the real story usually gets lost in the headlines.
Tiger Woods is a perfect example. From all bystander and news accounts, he was undoubtedly knocked out when his SUV hit a tree. Much speculation swirled before the infidelity took over the story, but no one said it quite this clearly:
Tiger Woods must have had a brain injury and his reluctance to speak in public may have been for medical reasons in addition to his reluctance to discuss his marriage. He might have cancelled his next golf tournament because of injuries he suffered. I am not naive to the more likely motivations for his disappearance from the public stage, but concussion is an issue that should not be forgotten.
The good news on the concussion front is that awareness seems to be growing daily. The NFL has gotten headlines for its new concussion policies, which don’t read any different to me than what should have always been its policy, but something clearly has changed. Players who would have been medically cleared to play, have been told they couldn’t. That includes starting quarterbacks on what were playoff caliber teams at the time, the Phoenix Cardinals and the Pittsburg Steelers. Yet the same week, I saw Jermichael Finley take a horrendous hit to his jaw from another players helmet, yet not even be taken out for one play. They stopped the play for the penalty and by the time they had marked off the yardage, he was lined up again.
How could anyone have known what lingering effects he had of a ding everyone clearly saw, if he didn’t even come to the sidelines?
One of the continuing problems with sideline concussion evaluations is the presumption that anyone noticed the initial concussion. That is an organic problem that can’t really be avoided, but if a player isn’t pulled out of a game to talk to the trainer, there is no chance to avoid the catastrophic second impact syndrome that turns a concussion into a severe and even life threatening injury.
The story of concussion in sport and its relevancy to the non-fan in us, will be a focus of the blogs to come.