I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
The Frontline documentary aired last night. Nothing new here but a compelling portrayal of the NFL. The preview was vetted on the board by wisecrakker over a month ago - but I would like to hear reaction from any of you who saw it. The lawsuit settled by the NFL is probably the best course for them. Some of the language of the settlement though now seems unpalatable given the picture drawn and story laid out by Frontline. This is from the settlement proposal...
“This agreement lets us help those who need it most and continue our work to make the game safer for current and future players. Commissioner Goodell and every owner gave the legal team the same direction: do the right thing for the game and for the men who played it,” said NFL Executive Vice President Jeffrey Pash.
That is anathama to the facts as laid out by Frontline last night. The subset of players who are or who have played since Mike Webster's disability claim was settled -where the league admitted football caused his injury - might have a larger stake than this settlement lays out.
Michigan is doing some concussion work this year. I'm not familiar with the extent of it but I remember it being mentioned in some of the many CTE threads. Hoke is forthright about letting the trainers do their job. The 2010 ND game with Dayne Crist's concussion still strikes a chord in my on going respect against ND. Regardless of the connections ... this is probably the story of our lives with regard to football and how it is played on every level. This documentary is another step. OT'd but it seems germane to any football blog.
An academic study was published today suggesting that sub-concussive events can cause brain damage in non-concussed football players. I'm not qualified to judge the scientific merits of the study, but it looks like bad news for football players. I was hoping someone in the MGoBlog community would be qualified to assess how serious and conclusive the study is.
Business week reports as follows (LINK):
Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic used blood tests, brain scans, and cognitive and other tests to assess brain trauma in 67 college football players over the course of the 2011 season. Although none of the players experienced concussions, blood tests showed that the 40 players who absorbed the hardest hits had elevated levels of an antibody linked to brain damage. These players then underwent brain scans at the University of Rochester Medical Center. When the scans were analyzed in a double-blind process, researchers found abnormalities that were predicted by the presence of the antibody.
“This positive correlation could be an early indicator of a pathological process that, with time, could perturb players’ brain health,” says Nicola Marchi, a professor of molecular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, who co-authored the study with Lerner colleague Damir Janigro and Rochester’s Jeffrey Bazarian. “All football players have repeated subconcussive hits—throughout the game, the season, and their careers,” he says, but without external symptoms of injury, the hits were hard to measure. The blood tests appear to offer an early warning system.
The academic article's abstract (LINK):
The acknowledgement of risks for traumatic brain injury in American football players has prompted studies for sideline concussion diagnosis and testing for neurological deficits. While concussions are recognized etiological factors for a spectrum of neurological sequelae, the consequences of sub-concussive events are unclear. We tested the hypothesis that blood-brain barrier disruption (BBBD) and the accompanying surge of the astrocytic protein S100B in blood may cause an immune response associated with production of auto-antibodies. We also wished to determine whether these events result in disrupted white matter on diffusion tensor imaging (DT) scans. Players from three college football teams were enrolled (total of 67 volunteers). None of the players experienced a concussion. Blood samples were collected before and after games (n = 57); the number of head hits in all players was monitored by movie review and post-game interviews. S100B serum levels and auto-antibodies against S100B were measured and correlated by direct and reverse immunoassays (n = 15 players; 5 games). A subset of players underwent DTI scans pre- and post-season and after a 6-month interval (n = 10). Cognitive and functional assessments were also performed. After a game, transient BBB damage measured by serum S100B was detected only in players experiencing the greatest number of sub-concussive head hits. Elevated levels of auto-antibodies against S100B were elevated only after repeated sub-concussive events characterized by BBBD. Serum levels of S100B auto-antibodies also predicted persistence of MRI-DTI abnormalities which in turn correlated with cognitive changes. Even in the absence of concussion, football players may experience repeated BBBD and serum surges of the potential auto-antigen S100B. The correlation of serum S100B, auto-antibodies and DTI changes support a link between repeated BBBD and future risk for cognitive changes.
In a Wall St. Journal article entitled "Football Nanny State," the author outlines the growing debate about the safety of football for kids, which has accelerated after Junior Seau and other stories. A growing chorus of football parents and even players say that they would now hesitate to allow their children to play football given the risks of traumatic head injuries. The only problem with this growing opinion is that it, according to the author, is not based upon any evidence--yet:
"Recent studies performed on former longtime NFL players have left no doubt that playing professional football can be hazardous to one's brain—and one's future quality of life. But when it comes to the question of whether the sport is dangerous for kids, it's not that the evidence is inconclusive—there's no evidence whatsoever.
The Mayo Clinic has performed two studies on football and kids. In 2002, after examining 915 football players from elementary and middle schools, it concluded: "the risk of injury in youth football does not appear greater than other recreational or competitive sports." Last year, the Mayo Clinic studied 438 men who played high-school football between 1946 and 1956, when headgear was less advanced. That study found no increased risk of dementia, Parkinson's disease or Lou Gehrig's disease among these players compared with their non-football-playing male classmates."
I quoted this small portion since the Jiournal is subscription only and some may not have access. To be clear, I'm not taking a position on this issue--every parent should be able to decide for themselves if the risks outweigh the benefit for their kids. And more studies to come may provide evidence for that. But I do believe that the push for legislation to actually prevent kids from playing is misguided for kids, and that for adults, the decision should be entirely up to them.
(I actually thought a recent topic had something worth discussing, however, the OP included something banned on these boards... Let's try this again).
A certain prominent public figure recent spoke about the future of football.
I have a few questions for discussion:
1. Would you feel OK about your son (real or theoretical) playing football? To what degree?
2. To what extent do you believe football can survive, as is?
3. What would you do to try to save the sport?
1. I would discourage my theoretical son from playing football. While at the end of the day, it would be his choice, I'd encourage soccer or fall-ball baseball for an autumn sport. If he chose to play football, I would be a pretty worried person everyday.
2. Every year something changes and I don't think that will stop any time soon. So, no I think 10-15 years from now the game will be different.
3. I'd make hitting illegal. If you do not attempt to wrap up with your arms and instead launch your body (whether you make contact with your shoulder or helmet), it would be a personal foul. 2 of them and you're ejected.
Yeah, big hits are exciting. But how often do we lament the player going for the big hit and failing to bring down the ball carrier? I think we can eliminate hitting without taking too much away from the game.
Popular Science this month brings us a look at the current state of the Football Helmet, concussions, sub-concussive impacts and a possible future for the helmet.
I do have some problems with the article. It opens with a sort of cloak-and-dagger setup directed at helmet manufacturers, which I find unnecessary and ridiculous. If a given technology proves itself to be better at preventing concussions and impact related brain damage, then helmet manufacturers are going to embrace that. If they haven't thusfar, it's because their data leads them to believe it is honestly not the best way to protect players.
There is some credence to the idea that manufacturers would like to protect themselves by supporting the work they've done in the past, certianly, but they're not going to ignore relevant, reliable modern data that shows better, safer ways to go. That doesn't protect them. It shoots them in the foot and opens them to more problems later.
Once you get past the bizzare, attack laced opening, though, the rest of the article is a pretty good, pretty cool look at some new technology that might help win the battle for a better football helmet. I was aware that new research showed that twisting and rolling of the brain within the skull was much more damaging than it simply bouncing around inside, and that there had been some work on developing helmets that took advantage of this knowledge, such as giving them a stretchy "skin" that would reduce inter-crainial rotation.
I had not heard of this new technology, though, which strikes me as simple and highly effective. By placing the helmet on a somewhat independently articulated skull cap, of sorts, it can protect against heavy blows while still moving and sliding independently of the head, reducing twisting.
I'm really glad to see some innovative thinking coming to helmet design. I would like to see the NCAA and the NFHS (not to mention the NFL), do some studies on the effectiveness of this new technology. What do you think?
Decided to try my hand at a post on some general concussion info , and a follow up with tx of patellar dislocations. Thanks again for reading...