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Posts Tagged ‘Concussion’


Hate to Say We Told You So, but…

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

We shared some news about this back in the summer, but it’s getting a bit more real now.  The Radiological Society of North America, a leading group of professionals who take and analyze scans and x-rays, just shared the findings of a study on soccer players who head the ball.

They looked specifically at players who had been at it for a while, and players who headed the ball 1,000 to 1,500 times per year.  These “super headers” showed a significant difference in brain matter for the regions that control attention, memory, executive functioning and visual functions.

They went on to say that the results were similar to people with traumatic brain injuries.  Some have likened the findings to similar studies on football and hockey.

This shouldn’t come as shocking news.header grimace

Lori Chalupny was a captain of the U.S. Women’s team.  She struggled to play in the World Cup because doctors were arguing about clearing her to play following a history of concussions.

Alecko Eskandarian was the MVP of the 2004 MLS Cup final.  He had several in a row, and after flipping in his D.C. United debut was out for several seconds, and upon regaining his feet ran sideways for 15 yards while his teammates tried to steer him towards the sidelines.

Taylor Twellman was an MLS MVP who finally retired in 2010 after a series of concussions.  His forte?  Headers in the penalty area. MLS Commissioner Don Garber called him “our Tom Brady” and he was one of the league’s leading scorers.  Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated said that his success was the result of throwing his head at the ball “with the force of a bird smacking a window”.

Twellman knew he was in trouble when he went to watch the NBA Finals.  When he closed his right eye he could still see Phil Jackson sitting right next to Doc Rivers.  The only problem was that Jackson and Rivers were on opposing benches at opposite ends of the floor.  Now that’s blurred vision!

In 1999, researchers at McGill University Health Center in Montreal, Canada did a comparative study of college soccer and football players (yes, Canadian football is still alive).  They found that the instance of players feeling the symptoms of a concussion was pretty even between both sports.  The duration and severity was pretty close too.  They also found, somewhat surprisingly, that female soccer players had a slightly higher percentage of concussion than their male counterparts.

None of this is strong enough to call for regulation, but the professionals doing these studies did make some recommendations.

They suggested that youngsters should be wary of excessive heading.  A younger player is much more likely to suffer a brain injury.  They also warned against drills where players repeatedly headed the ball back and forth for extended periods.  They also encouraged the use of headgear and mouthguards, neither of which are very popular with players.

At Disco Sports we like soccer, and like the fact that it moves quickly, involves great footwork and great teamwork.   A well-placed header is like a perfectly executed crossing pass on the gridiron.  But a bird smacking a window?  Ouch.

Fall Sports in August’s Heat?

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

We’re gearing up for fall sports.  Hopefully we’re gearing you up too!  Some folks have started their football camps already!  You know we’re ready for football!

We beat you over the head a few weeks ago with information about the dangers of concussion. As we see our little folks run around in this oppressive August heat we thought we’d share some information about the dangers of excessive exposure to the heat.

There have already been some reports this year of young players suffering from the heat.  In a few tragic cases death has resulted.

There are a few degrees of heat exposure.  Heat cramp, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.  At first your body begins to cramp, you will lose your ability to regulate your body temperature, your internal temperature could rise as high as 106, and then it begins to get deadly.  If an athlete experiences nausea, blurred vision, or confusion then he or she is in serious trouble and needs immediate medical attention.

The first thing that you want to secure is access to water.  Clean, fresh water.  A responsible organization will provide coolers full of it.  It should be readily accessible and frequent breaks should be provided to hydrate.  As we sweat we lose valuable sodium and electrolytes and certain sports drinks can help to replace these.  Read your label, though, as certain “sports” drinks contain caffeine and other not so healthy things.  These troublemakers are in there to provide quick energy but they speed up metabolism and can exaggerate the effects of heat.  This is also something to be aware of in any medications that the player is taking.  Meds for asthma and allergies often contain bronchodilators, which can speed up the metabolism.

Many foods contain a lot of water.  Most fruits, like watermelon, are mostly water.  Look also for food and snacks that are mineral-rich and loaded with good salts and some easy carbs for energy.

There is a rare but deadly consequence of too much water:  hyponatremia.  This is an imbalance in the levels of sodium and fluids in the body.  If a player has been sweating heavily and then ingests large amounts of fluid without balancing the amount of sodium the cells of the body will swell.  This becomes deadly as the brain cells swell, as the skull doesn’t give the brain a lot of room to move around.

When is the coach holding practice?  Be aware that the majority of heat incidents occur during the first couple of days of practice.  Players need to get acclimated to the heat.  Just because they’ve been at the beach or chasing sprinklers all summer doesn’t mean they’re ready for a full-out with pads practice.  You should also become a weather expert!  You can create your own heat index to decide how you want your player to participate.  A good and easy rule of thumb is to do the “Sum” equation.  Look at the weather and add the temperature to the humidity.  If it’s 85 degrees and the relative humidity is 70% you have a sum of 155.  Good to practice but keep your eyes open.  As you get above a Sum of 160 you need to be really vigilant.  If it gets up to 180 you should encourage the organization to cancel or reschedule the event.  A smart coach will try to get most activities going early in the morning so that most strenuous activity is done before the afternoon heat really kicks in.

Uniform also plays a role.  Is the coach going full-pads?  Shorts and fishnet jerseys are good.  For football or other sports requiring helmets they should be used sparingly and sunscreen is still a must.  If a shirt or jersey becomes too wet due to sweat it should be changed as this will trap heat.

Most of all:  watch.  Learn the warning signs and monitor the practice!  Fall sports are fun but they don’t need to be dangerous!



New Law in Effect Concerning Student Athlete Concussions

Friday, July 8th, 2011

A new law is taking effect across the state dealing with student athletes. The law requires students to be taken off of the court or field if he or she shows any signs of a concussion. This law can affect sports ranging from basketball, soccer, baseball, football and many others where concussions are at risk.

This law is coming at time where a new study has just been released that has affirmed the dangers of concussions to young athletes. Doctors and specialists both agree that there are many unknowns about the aftereffects of a concussion.

The new concussion study among young athletes was released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) trade journal. Dr. Joel Brenner, incoming chairman of the Council on Sports, Medicine and Fitness for the AAP said the newly released study contained information that causes concern.

The study showed that sudden deaths related to concussions in young athletes were preventable with the use of better equipment.

Disco Sports has all of your protection equipment needs and focuses on the safety of your children as they participate in the sports they love!

To learn more about the new policies and regulations in place concerning concussions and student athletes, see the video here!