Tag:Player Safety
Posted on: July 18, 2011 2:41 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 3:12 pm

Study: NFL players more vulnerable to Alzheimer's

Posted by Will Brinson

A study presented on Monday by the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Paris revealed that ex-NFL players are more susceptible to developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) than non-football-playing men of the same age.

MCI is, as Time's Alice Park notes, a form of dementia that leads to Alzheimer's and, unsurprisingly, the development of MCI relates directly to the number of violent hits and jarring shots to the head that football players take during the course of their career.

"The players who were impaired looked exactly like the typical clinical MCI patient in terms of their profile," Christopher Randolph, a professor of neurology at Loyola University Medical Center who led the study, said. "That supports our hypothesis that what we are dealing with is an earlier expression of MCI or AD in these players than would be expected otherwise."

The most terrifying aspect of the study (in which researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also assisted)? Helmets won't prevent this brain damage.

"The harder the stop, the more movement you have in the brain tissue; you stretch nerve fibers, tear fibers and bruise things," says Randolph. "So helmets are not going to protect you."

Player Safety

Randolph believes that changing practice habits could reduce the damage done to players' heads but that it could be difficult to reduce the amount of stress in games.

Regardless of the scientific evidence relating to reducing stress in games, though, it's obvious that decreasing the number of helmet-to-helmet hits that occur will significantly impact players' brains in a positive manner.

As will, hopefully, the league's ability to enforce a safer concussion policy that keeps players from returning to games too soon.

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Posted on: April 27, 2011 11:01 am

Is Peyton Manning tanking his concussion test?

Posted by Andy Benoit

We recently passed along a report from Alex Marvez of Fox Sports about how some NFL players are tanking their preseason baseline concussion test in order to make it easier to pass a real concussion test later in the season. One player who may have admitted to doing this is Peyton Manning.

In an ESPN.com chat with Eli and Archie, Peyton was asked,” How do you feel about all the new research about concussions that's coming out?” It’s hard to tell if his response is serious, humorous or both. You can judge for yourself:

“They have these new [brain] tests we have to take,” Peyton said.  “Before the season, you have to look at 20 pictures and turn the paper over and then try to draw those 20 pictures.  And they do it with words, too.  Twenty words, you flip it over, and try to write those 20 words.  Then, after a concussion, you take the same test and if you do worse than you did on the first test, you can’t play.  So I just try to do badly on the first test.”

[Archie slaps his forehead again.]

If this story gains some legs, expect Manning to issue a clarifying statement at some point. The NFL certainly doesn't want it's marquee star mocking or discrediting the new emphasis on player safety.

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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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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com