Tag:NFL head injuries
Posted on: April 22, 2011 5:59 pm

How players are cheating on concussion tests

Posted by Andy Benoit

Player safety (which is the NFL’s affirmative way of saying “decreased concussions”) is at the forefront in today’s game. The league has done a commendable job of swiftly enacting new safety-oriented rules that prevent concussed players from being on the field.

But to a large degree, those rules only work if players cooperate. Dr. Daniel Amen, who has treated current and former players for post-concussion symptoms, tells Alex Marvez of Fox Sports that not all players are doing that.

When a player suffers a head injury, he must perform a baseline test that measures elements such as cognitive thinking, memory, concentration and balance. The results of the 6-8 minute test are measured against how the player performed on that same test in the preseason. Top make for an easier-to-pass baseline test, some players are purposely performing poorly on their preseason test.
"Players are smart. They know that if they have a concussion and score badly that, 'I'm going to be taken out. It's going to affect my livelihood,' " Amen said. "I've had a number of players tell me they purposely do bad on the testing to start so if they get a concussion it doesn't affect them.

"We need to educate them that this is a really dumb idea, that it's the rest of their life that they're playing with."

What’s more, some players who didn’t think ahead like this but still want to get back on the field before they’re 100 percent are turning to stimulants that can temporarily boost alertness and mask concussion symptoms.

"Ritalin will work," Amen said. "It helps boost activity to the front part of the brain. In my mind, it's not the first thing I would do to rehabilitate a concussion but it would be on the list of things to do.

"Clearly, it's not approved by the NFL or a smart thing to do and try to cheat the test."

Though he’s speaking on the matter, a bulk of Amen’s work regarding athletes’ head injuries doesn’t even pertain to concussions. He says we’re just scratching the surface on what impact repeated minor hits to the head have on the brain.

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Posted on: June 29, 2010 3:37 pm

Impact of the Chris Henry Brain Results

By now you’ve heard that the results of an examination on Chris Henry’s brain revealed brain damage. Specifically, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). What stands out is that Henry was never diagnosed with a concussion while with the West Virginia Mountaineers or Cincinnati Bengals. Thus, these findings could lay the groundwork for a shift in the way people – especially non-sports enthusiasts – view the violence of football.

The Cincinnati Enquirer details findings:

Neurosurgeon Julian Bailes and California medical examiner Bennet Omalu, co-directors of the Brain Injury Research Institute at WVU, found similarities between Henry's brain and that of former NFL players Mike Webster and Andre Waters.

Omalu first came across CTE, a condition often seen in boxers, after studying the brain of Webster, a Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame lineman. Webster died in 2002 of a heart attack at age 50. He had suffered brain damage that left him unable to work following his football career.

Waters, who committed suicide in 2007, had a brain condition consistent with that of an 85-year-old man, Omalu told the New York Times at the time.

Omalu noted, however, that concussions are from being the only cause of brain trauma. It’s possible that Henry’s issues derived from outside of football. As the Enquirer writes,

The bigger question is whether CTE was a cause of Henry's problems in college and the NFL, where he was repeatedly arrested and suspended. Symptoms of CTE can include failure at personal and business relationships, use of drugs and alcohol, depression and suicide.

Bailes refrained from making a judgment, saying: "Chris Henry did not have that entire spectrum and we don't know if there's a cause and effect here. It certainly raises the question and raises our curiosity. We're just here to report our findings. That may be for others to decipher."

Henry's mother, Carolyn Henry Glaspy, did tell researchers that her son suffered two concussions while playing in high school and that he started to complain of headaches as a teenager. It was also around that time that he started using marijuana.

--Andy Benoit

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Category: NFL
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