TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘concussion’

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . . Carol Starke-Pyle (caregiver of her son, Thomas)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Carol Starke-Pyle

(caregiver of her son, Thomas)

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.

The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.

On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.

The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.

If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at neelyf@aol.com. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.

Carol Starke-Pyle (caregiver of her son, Thomas)

carol-starke-pyle-1

Carolyn Starke-Pyle – Caregiver for Brain Injury Survivor

 

This is my son’s story. Thomas was 43. He trained/rode horses for a living. He was very athletic, vivacious, funny, etc. He came to visit me one Sunday, and, as the day wore on, he became more and more delusional. I called an ambulance. My son knew his name, knew where he was, and walked to the ambulance. I followed to the Emergency Room. I was able to see Thomas twenty minutes later, as he was waiting in the cubicle. He could not talk – he babbled incoherently. He could not sit up or walk. He didn’t know me. He was admitted and was given many tests: a CT (computerized tomography) scan, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and a spinal tap. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) was called in. It was concluded that Thomas had brain damage. After two weeks, Thomas was transferred to a neurological center. He didn’t know how to swallow, he knew NO ONE, he was in a huge crib, and he was in diapers. More the-brain-hispinal taps and more MRIs. I was told his frontal lobe looked as if a bag of M&Ms had been tossed into it. Infectious/viral disease had been ruled out. It was determined that, due to numerous concussions from falls off horses, his brain had suffered too much damage – which was IRREVERSIBLE! I collapsed when his doctor said, “The Thomas you knew a month ago is no longer with us.” He continued to tell me that my vibrant son would need a nursing home for the rest of his life.

I went onto Facebook and shared my anguish and pleaded for prayers. A prayer chain encircled the globe. Meanwhile, I attended TBI (traumatic brain injury) seminars and met with social workers and more doctors to find a special nursing home for Thomas. Two months later, on my visit, his nurse grinned and said she had a surprise. Thomas was standing up! The next week, he was walking, then talking (he made little sense, but … !), then recognizing us, and then eating by himself. As I was a teacher, I chose to stick up all sorts of stimuli – photos of family, friends, pets, and horses. horse_adoptable_bay_animated_by_hikari_yumi-d5hrf17Thomas slowly improved (contrary to the opinions of ALL specialists). After four months, with short-term memory loss and some loss of intelligence, Thomas was released. I asked his doctor to explain. He looked at me and quietly said, “It is a miracle!”

My son is back to work with horses, has absolutely NO memory of the hospital, has a touch believe-clip-art-at-clker-com-vector-clip-art-online-royalty-free-qep8hi-clipartof short-term memory loss, and is as bright as he always was. BELIEVE IN MIRACLES! I am praying for YOU ALL!

 

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the interviewee.)

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI SPEAK OUT! Caregiver Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Chelsea Rolph

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Chelsea Rolph

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

chelsea rolph

Chelsea Rolph – Brain Injury Survivor

1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Chelsea Rolph

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?

I have unfortunately had many traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). My first one happened when I was roughly 5. I have also had a concussion at 17 and two more at 18.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

My first TBI happened because I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt properly. Somebody hit my dad in a parking lot, and I flew out of my seat and hit my head on the seat in front of me. My later TBIs happened because of my favourite sport – basketball. You see, sometimes I get competitive. Sports were also my way of releasing any built-up anger I might have. I would let it all out on the court. One day, I was going for a ball, and I got an elbow in my temple. I blacked out for a minute, but I convinced my coach and the refs that I was okay. I kept playing until my coach noticed that something about me wasn’t right, and he took me off the court. After the game, I was taken to the hospital to get checked out. That was where they told me that I have a TBI and that I should relax – take time off from school and sports.08172116cc812061b05e6a42350f7002

My later TBIs were the ones that really affected me. I remember being in a basketball game (the second of the season), and we were down by 1 point with 44 seconds on the clock. I had a lane. I drove to the net, went up for my layup, and then darkness. I was out. I woke up lying underneath the net and feeling so confused. My coach and the ref were standing by me. I was immediately taken to the hospital. I remember that my eyes were doing weird things, such that the doctor called other doctors to take a look. I actually took time off from school that time. However, I was banned from sports for the rest of my life. I was told that, even with a helmet, I would still suffer from concussions.

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

I knew the injury was serious when I started blacking out. I was also really sensitive to light. I remember that the day after I hit my head, I woke up and I was blind. I opened my eyes, but all I could see was darkness. It was a really scary feeling. I called for my mom, and she took me back to the hospital.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

I never had any emergency treatment. However, I was tested for anything and everything. I was given an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), a CT (computerized tomography) scan, ECGs (electrocardiograms), an EEG (electroencephalogram), and a stress test. I had ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). I wore a heart monitor for a week. They did a sleep study on me, and I was given a neuropsychological test. Some of these tests gave me answers, and some did not.

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

I was never in a coma. I just had seizures and random blackouts.

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? How long were you in rehab?

I was in outpatient rehab in Hamilton, Ontario. That hospital is the reason why I had answers. I went there for roughly one year. I was on a fast track because my goal was to discover if I was able to go to school. Basically I spent my summer in the hospital to do the tests and to get the results.

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Chelsea Rolph – Brain Injury Survivor

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

I had a lot of problems. The one that affected me the most was the fact that I would pass out if I got my heart rate up. I was no longer able to play sports with my athlete-friends. I also noticed a huge shift in my personality. I used to be a very happy-go-lucky person. I wanted to be a Social Worker and help others. After my TBI, I became a huge jerk! I was always moody, I stopped caring about things, and I altered my personality so I wouldn’t let things affect me. I kept myself from getting attached to things I care about. I loved basketball, and in one second all of that was taken away from me. I still suffer from this. I have made myself an emotionless robot. I also stopped wanting to be Social Worker because I realized that if I couldn’t help myself, then I couldn’t possibly help others. I had to get bifocals. (I was having a hard time adjusting from up-close visuals to things far away.) I also had a hard time with my memory. I used to be in acting, and I could memorize a script easily. However, I was not able to remember what I read. My short-term memory was severely affected. My doctor referred to me as “an old computer.” (I had the information needed, but it took a while to get to me. I kept buffering.) I lost my abilities to multitask, to focus, and to sit still. My fine-motor skills suffered. Sometimes I have a hard time understanding what has been said to me and how to answer. I also had difficulty sleeping because I was having mini-seizures in my sleep.

10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?

Has my life changed? Of course! Is it better or worse? Who knows? I have suffered, and I have dealt with things on my own that people shouldn’t. I remember coming home from school crying to my mom because all of a sudden I was unable to do the things I used to do. In contrast to the thoughts of many people, I was still able to complete University. I might have just gone to college (like I should have), but now I can proudly say I have my degree! That might not have happened without my TBIs because back then I wasn’t out to prove anything. Do I now have a bigger debt than what I should have? ABSOLUTELY! However, I will never regret it. My life isn’t “better” or “worse” than it originally was, but I feel I have been very fortunate.

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

I miss my friends. All of my friends are athletes. Taking away my ability to be active took me from my friends. I was no longer able to do the things that I normally did. My friends kept playing sports, and I kept sitting on the sidelines. It wasn’t easy, but I found the ones who are able to understand that part and still be by my side. I really cherish that.

I also miss my ability to always be willing to go out and meet new people. I get exhausted a lot more easily than I used to. Before, I would never be home. I would always be working. If not, I would be playing a sport, and if I weren’t doing that, I would be with my friends doing fun, crazy things! My fiancé is a DJ, and a part of being the DJ’s significant other is going to his gigs and socializing with the other significant others. I still love doing that, but now I find it more exhausting than what it should be/used to be!

I would like to be able to go back and play sports the way I used to, but now I am a coward. I am scared of playing. I am scared of taking two steps backwards. I have moved on from what I wasn’t able to do, and I am now trying to find other things that I enjoy. I am slowly trying to get back into the shape I used to be in five years ago.

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

I enjoy the fact that I got to start over with a blank slate. I was able to take a step back and really see what and who made me happy. I love that my fiancé was in my life when I was first dealing with my issues. He has never left my side. I love that I was able to prove to doctors, friends, family, and the faculty at McMaster University that, despite what they thought, I could graduate without the accommodations I should have had. I am now out living my life. I am doing what every recent graduate does – looking for a full-time job, hopefully buying a car, and looking for an apartment. I am doing everything that most people do, except with an invisible problem.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

I don’t like the fact that I lost something that I loved, which, I previously mentioned, was my love for basketball. I faced loss, even though nobody had passed away. I felt as though something I had strongly cared about was taken away from me. I also don’t like the fact that I have an invisible illness. I don’t want to make excuses. When I am having a problem with something, I don’t like to say, “I have had a concussion.” I don’t promote that about myself. I hated that I was so close to potentially receiving the grade 12 Athlete of the Year award and that it was taken away from me without a fighting chance.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

A couple things have helped me on my journey to success. My rehab clinic helped me a lot! It helped me by giving me answers to the problems I was having. I don’t normally like talking about my feelings, but I do enjoy talking to one of my pets. My mom, my sister, and my fiancé have also helped me. The one thought that I always have is “My TBI happened. I can’t dwell in the past, and I can’t make excuses. What I can do is do what I love. If I have a challenge, problem solve. What can I do to make this work for me?” I realized that I shouldn’t have to give up on something because it is tough. I have to come up with my own solutions to deal with that problem.

15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Besides the fact that I am moody, my TBIs haven’t affected my relationships too much. It was tough dealing with my changed memory. If my parents asked me to do something for them, there is a good chance I would forget. When my boyfriend and I were originally dating, I hated that I had to ask him personal questions multiple times because I couldn’t remember. Other than that, not much has changed.

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

I have mentioned before about my social life. I felt like I had lost my friends because of my inability to play sports alongside them. I have become more of an introvert. I like coming home and relaxing. I get overwhelmed socializing for a long period of time. I need breaks from people – I need “me” time.

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

My mom was my main caregiver. It must have been really tough on her to have her baby daughter come home crying every day because of frustration. My mom has been my rock. She has been by my side every step of them way. I don’t know what I would have done without her. She was the one who supported me when I decided to go to University without any help, and she was there to see me walk across that stage.

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Chelsea Rolph – TBI Survivor – Graduate McMaster University

18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I am always wondering what I want to do with my future. I would love to inspire some people. I have always thought about working at a juvenile detention centre. I would love to talk to the kids and show them that they can prove others wrong – “Don’t let others tell you who you are or who you’re not, and don’t let them control your future.” I want to write about the power of “Yes” and “No.” Other than that, I would love to get married to the love of my life and maybe start our own family!

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

I want others to know that something good can come out of this situation. I really had a hard time with this. I ran into one of my former high school gym teachers, and I was told that, because of me, the rules around brain trauma have been altered at the school level. The School Board has created guidelines with steps to follow if a student has a brain injury. I work at a recreation centre teaching sports to kids, and I walked out of the gym and saw the guidelines posted. A student must have time off, and when the student returns, he or she is to have a private room with no distractions. Even though I had to go through my TBIs with no support from my high school, except for some of my teachers, my journey helped create change for others.

20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Never lose hope! You are only as strong as you feel. Keep pushing forward, and make the best of every day. Seize the moment and life with no regrets. Things happen. If we dwell on the problems, we will never give ourselves room to grow and improve. If I decided not to go to University and just take the year off, I might not be in the state of mind that I am in today. I also might not have met the people who took me “across the ocean.” You are the main character in your life-story. You get to choose the paths you take. Don’t let barriers get in the way of your happiness. If something doesn’t work for you, make it!

 

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the interviewee.)

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI Survivor Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

 

As I say after each post:

Feel free to leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

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If you like my blog, click the “Like” button under this post.

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So, Whaddya Think? Opinion: Rethinking the Design of Football Helmets

So, Whaddya Think?

 My Opinion: Rethinking the Design of Football Helmets

by

David Lloyd

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

So Whaddya Think Brain th-4The reason for a hard helmet in American football is to prevent deaths from skull fractures. The attempts to make bigger and thicker helmets have been based on trying to absorb linear impact force, but that’s based on the faulty notion that linear impact force is related to brain injury (Condi, 2015).

It is the sudden rotation of the head that actually causes brain injury (Meaney, Morrison, & Bass, 2014). A bigger helmet “leverages” rotation, increasing the likelihood of brain injury (2016, January). We need to rethink helmet design entirely. I suggest using an artificial scalp (Aare, 2003), like the leather helmets from the 1930s (Stamp, 2012, October), with a springy, lightweight, carbon-fiber framework to absorb linear impact. The design should include guarding the mouth and chin.

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David Lloyd – Brain Injury Survivor

Another possibility would be a variation of the so-called “invisible helmet” (Haupt & Alstin, 2016), which is like the airbag in a car. Players would wear invisible-helmet-collars, which instantly expand to cushion the head upon impact. (While I think this could be a great idea for bicyclists, I suspect it would not work for football, but since it occurred to me just now, I thought I would include the idea.)

I would also put a couple of strategically placed, clear, and inexpensive disposable gelatin capsules in the helmet. These gelatin capsules would contain a bright-colored liquid dye in the center. When an impact is sharp enough to cause the gelatin capsule to release the dye, the capsule turns bright red (assuming a red dye was used) to indicate a possible brain injury. The moment a player’s dye-capsule breaks, that player is out of the game (possibly along with the opponent who hit the player). A light-sensor could trigger an electronic ID number to be broadcast instantly to officials, so an appropriate response could happen immediately. Every incident in which a dye-capsule is broken is recorded as a possible sub-concussive injury. Players with too many sub-concussive injuries can no longer play, regardless of apparent brain health.Gelatin Capsules.jpg

In addition, a smart phone-based application (Lathan, Spira, Bleiberg, Vice & Tsao, 2013) is used to test the player’s response times to a short series of tests, with scores compared with a baseline. Concussion is diagnosed on the field when the player’s test score is significantly different from his baseline. If a concussion is diagnosed, the player does not return to the field, and, at the discretion of the physician, the player may be treated with a neuroprotective drug, such as NeuroStat® (Campbell, Elmér, & Bronnegard, 2015), to prevent the death of neurons, which generally occurs before the symptoms of concussion are apparent.

th-1I think the Kevlar insert sounds like a very good idea. Put that layer next to the head, below the artificial scalp I suggested. This in turn is to be below a light weight, springy framework, which I imagined would absorb linear impact by rapidly changing shape and then dissipating the energy by vibrating. The artificial scalp layer, in addition to sliding to absorb rotational impact, would also insulate the player from damage due to the vibration energy.

The three most important issues are (1) detecting potential sub-concussive injuries when they happen and before they cause symptoms (via the gel-capsules), (2) protecting against skull-fracture, and (3) protecting against sharp rotation, which requires a helmet with a much smaller surface area.

Many studies (Kis, Saunders, Hove, & Leslie, 2004) over the years have concluded that protecting against linear impact is equivalent to protecting against rotational impact. If one reads only abstracts and conclusions from these studies, one may be led to believe rotational factors don’t need consideration. However, only recently have there been any attempts to measure rotational damage, and even in those cases, the tests actually measure linear impact from various angles. They assume it is possible to infer information about rotational impact from this information (Kis, Saunders, Irrcher, Tator, Bishop, & Hove, 2013).Concussion

I don’t believe a linear impact test provides any significant data regarding rotational injury to the brain. I think a meaningful test of rotational impact is with my dye-in-gelatin suggestion. It is simply not possible to design a laboratory test that can reliably measure all possible angles of force (Hernandez, Shull, & Camarillo, 2015) created in a multi-vector, real-situation impact. I have yet to see a meaningful test of damage caused by compression waves (Laksari, Wu, Kurt, Kuo, & Camarillo, 2015), which, depending on frequency, can be augmented by hard objects, such as helmets or even the skull itself. Create a clear-gel facsimile of a brain, add a few grapes to the gelatin to simulate denser areas of the brain, put it in a structure like a skull, wrap the skull in something analogous to skin and hair, and put THAT in a helmet. Then spin it, and drop it onto a fast-moving conveyor belt. Now count the fractures in the gelatin per cubic millimeter (using a microscope), and you will have BEGUN to create a meaningful model of what happens in a brain injury. It is likely that one cannot realistically study impact on the brain unless the artificial brain is connected by a neck to a body (Hernandez, Shull, & Camarillo, 2015).

I think attempting to reform the game would meet such extreme resistance that all kinds of misinformation would get published – obscuring the facts and preventing change. A better approach is to detect and track sub-concussive injuries before they compound to a level that threatens lives or affects mental performance.

Some are suggesting the elimination of football, but this “solution” makes no sense unless we eliminate all contact sports. I know boxing is much worse than football, in terms of the risk of brain injury. I’m pretty sure I could find evidence to indicate thatth-2 hockey and soccer are statistically more likely to cause brain injuries than football, but even basketball, track, wrestling, swimming, skating, ice skating, and even bicycling present similar dangers. [Actually, football is second only to cycling, followed by baseball and basketball for associated brain injuries (Sports-related Head Injury, 2014, August)]. In my mind, the greater danger to the collective health of the nation would be the elimination of these various sports (Devine, & Zafonte, 2009). Humans need to be active, and there is no way to eliminate the potential danger of living a healthy life.

 

So, Whaddya Think?

Let’s get a dialogue going. Post your comments in the Comment Section. Directions are below.

So . . . what do you think? Is there something you are passionate about in this Brain Injury (BI) world? Do you want to be heard? Your opinion matters! You can SPEAK OUT! on “So Whaddya Think?”

Simply send me your opinion, and I will format it for publication. Posts may be short, but please send no more than 500 words. Send to Neelyf@aol.com

I hope to HEAR from you soon.

As I say after each post:

Feel free to leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow Me Via eMail” on the right sidebar of your screen.anim0014-1_e0-1

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So, Whaddya Think . . . . . . . . Should We Let Children Play Tackle Football?

So, Whaddya Think?

 Should We Let Children Play Tackle Football?

by

David Figurski and Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

So Whaddya Think Brain th-4Dr. Bennet Omalu, the Nigerian pathologist who discovered the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) by his study of the brain of Hall-of-Fame center Mike Webster, is making news again with an Op-Ed published in The New York Times. Dr. Omalu’s essay is entitled Don’t Let Kids Play Football. He says that our society has laws forbidding the sale of tobacco and alcohol to minors. There is legislation that mandates bicycle helmets for children. Football Player HurtWhy not protect children’s brains by prohibiting children from playing American-style tackle football? Dr. Omalu writes in his essay, “The risk of permanent impairment is heightened by the fact that the brain, unlike most other organs, does not have the capacity to cure itself ….”

Omalu & Will Smith

(Dr. Omalu’s CTE-discovery story and its impact on American football is told in the much-anticipated movie, Concussion, which will be in theaters on Christmas Day. Dr. Omalu is played by actor Will Smith. As grippingly shown in the Frontline documentary, League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis, which is online and free, the National Football League – NFL – immediately attacked Dr. Omalu and tried to get him to retract the published paper.)league-of-denial-raster-br10-81-550x377

There is strong evidence that not only concussions, but also the large number of sub-concussive hits common to players of American football can lead to CTE, whose symptoms may appear as early as in the late teens. The symptoms of CTE include memory loss, reduced intelligence, depression, aggressive behavior, dementia, and suicidal thoughts. Both a college football player and a young professional player committed suicide, and they were found to have CTE. A high-school football player committed suicide. CTE has also been detected in the brains of players of high-school football.

NFLlogoThe NFL is concerned with the growing awareness of brain injuries in players of American football. If players, their families, fans, coaches, and/or parents think that CTE is common among players, a seemingly sacrosanct part of American culture and a multibillion-dollar industry would be put into jeopardy.

To get in front of the concussion issue, the NFL has aggressively promoted its image as a forward-thinking and safety-conscious league. The NFL has donated large sums of money for concussion research. The league has changed the rules of the game to discourage a player from using his helmet to make tackle or to prevent a tackle. It has established a “concussion protocol” to keep a concussed player from practice and/or games until he has been approved to return to play. The NFL has concussion-spotters present at every game and this year has empowered them to stop a game. (However, that protocol failed shamefully and dramatically in the recent instance of quarterback Case Keenum near the end of a tie game.) The rule changes are good progress, but can the NFL actually prevent brain injuries and save the game?

Current and former players have been affected by the brain-injury issue. Some players have had to retire early and fear imminent brain disease. A rookie linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers quit after one year of a four-year contract. (He is returning the signing bonus for the remaining three years.) He said that playing professional football, with all its potential for wealth, is not worth the risk of brain injury. football-brain-injuryLegendary former quarterback Joe Namath has said that, if he knew then what he knows now, he wouldn’t have played. Keith McCants, former NFL linebacker said, “We were paid to give concussions. If we knew that we were killing people, I would have never put on the jersey.”

The brains of several former players, including Hall-of-Fame linebacker

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Junior Seau

Junior Seau and four-time-Pro-Bowl safety Dave Duerson – both of whom committed suicide, were found to have CTE.

duerson

Dave Duerson

Boston University’s CTE Center has found CTE in 88 of 92 (1, 2) autopsied brains of former NFL players. (Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University says that this is a ridiculously high rate even for a sample of brains in which the individuals showed some signs of brain disease. DOF has written about a simple fix for the claim of bias. In the meantime, there was a report that was consistent with Dr. McKee’s fear that CTE is common among football players. Frank Gifford, Hall-of-Fame running back, apparently died of natural causes, but his brain showed CTE.)

Frank Gifford football

Frank Gifford

Should children play American football with all that is known? Obviously there is much more to be learned, but should society wait to protect the children? Children trust their parents and coaches. Dr. Omalu only wants society to protect the brains of young children until those children are able to understand the risks to the brain from playing Brain in football helmetfootball and to make their own decision of whether or not to play. Boston University’s Dr. Robert Cantu said that a child’s brain is developing until age 14. Should children be subjecting their developing brains to high impact hits? One study showed that sometimes the force of a young child’s hit can reach that of a college football player.

football player catching ball

One argument for safety in American football is that the equipment, especially the helmet, is much improved. The helmet does a very good job of protecting the skull, but does nothing to protect the brain. There is no helmet that can prevent a concussion.Concussions-sports-concussion-crisis

As you might imagine, Dr. Omalu’s position is highly unpopular. Danny Kanell, former NFL quarterback and now ESPN commentator, claims that Dr. Omalu is waging a “War on Football.” Many fans and parents agree with Kanell because they believe that CTE is not common among football players. (DOF has written how this issue can be resolved simply. Dr. Omalu is an author on a paper reporting the accurate detection of CTE in a living person using a special PET – positron emission tomography – scan. The NFL needs to have all of its players scanned.) If Dr. Omalu’s suggestion about not letting kids play tackle football were adopted, one effect would be immediately obvious. The NFL would see its pool of young players dry up, so the talent we now see in the NFL would no longer be seen.

Bennet Omalu

Dr. Bennet Omalu at screening of “Concussion”

It is unlikely that Dr. Omalu’s suggestion would ever come true. But he has the stature to get people talking, and the discussion has already changed. More people are becoming aware of the danger to the brain of playing tackle football. The NFL is concerned with the movie Concussion because it will increase society’s awareness of the danger. (In an article about an early showing of Concussion to former players and their families, the Huffington Post writes “… the wife of former tight end Taz Anderson, said the movie made her question whether her grandchild should continue to play the sport.”) Recently Bob Costas, a renowned sports commentator, said that American football is based on violence. The league has no way of fixing its problem with head trauma.

If you’ve ever seen young children playing tackle football, you will realize that society must do something to protect its children.

So, Whaddya Think?

Let’s get a dialogue going. Post your comments in the Comment Section. Directions are below.

So . . . what do you think? Is there something you are passionate about in this Brain Injury (BI) world? Do you want to be heard? Your opinion matters! You can SPEAK OUT! on “So Whaddya Think?”

Simply send me your opinion, and I will format it for publication. Posts may be short, but please send no more than 500 words. Send to Neelyf@aol.com

I hope to HEAR from you soon.

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit NFL Quarterback With Concussion Stays In Game

NFL Quarterback With Concussion Stays In Game

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

newsboy-thThe National Football League (NFL) governs most of professional American football, and it is proud of its “concussion protocol” to protect its players. That system shamefully failed Sunday with 1:04 left in a 13-13 game between the St. Louis Rams and the Baltimore Ravens.

St. Louis quarterback, Case Keenum, had taken his team close to Baltimore territory and was trying to drive for a score. Then Keenum was

Case Keenum 1

Case Keenum Quarterback St. Louis Rams

sacked (tackled for a loss). His head hit the turf hard. Keenum couldn’t get up without assistance, and even when he did, he seemed to be staggering. He showed at least three of the signs of a possible concussion, as defined by the concussion protocol of the NFL. (A concussion was confirmed after the game. It wasn’t a surprise. Fans at the stadium and watching on TV could see Keenum was in trouble.)

Case Keenum 2

Keenum holding head after tackle

The NFL this year empowered the neurotrauma consultants, who are in the broadcast booths for all games, to stop games if necessary. Yet the St. Louis-Baltimore game continued, and Case Keenum remained in it. He fumbled after two plays. Baltimore recovered, which set up a field goal to win the game.

Case Keenum 3

Keenum struggling to return to game

This case seems to show more concern with winning than with Keenum’s health and safety. Both the NFL and the NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) are investigating. It’s not clear if anyone – the coach, the trainer,

Concussed Brain

Concussed Brain

or the neurotrauma consultant – was at fault. But whatever happened, the system totally failed. (Full story with video)

 

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . . . Debra Cody

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Debra Cody

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Deb Cody Post accident1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Debra Cody

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

Ailsa Craig, Ontario, Canada     debcody63@gmail.com

3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?

I was 47 when I was diagnosed, but I was 42 when I had my first concussion.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I suffered four concussions over a five-year span.

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

It was clear I had a problem about four months after my last concussion in 2010, but my mother and my husband say they noticed a difference in me about two years before that.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

I was assessed in the Emergency Room after the first, second, and fourth concussions. I was always told to go home and rest for a couple weeks for the concussion. I opted not to go to the hospital after the third one because I knew I would just be told to go home and rest. For the fourth one (after the car accident), I was taken to the hospital by ambulance, as the concussion (according to the doctor) was “the least of my worries.” I had other injuries that needed surgery, a tracheotomy, and a G-PEG (gastric tube that leads directly to the stomach for feeding).

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

No

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)?

Yes. I was in an outpatient treatment program.

How long were you in rehab?

I have been in the program for three years now.

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

I have headaches. I tire easily. My personality was affected. I have issues with perception, hearing, anxiety, depression, confusion, and vertigo.

10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?

I like to say that “life is my oyster and my brain injury is the pearl.” My life started out as worse, but it has slowly gotten better. My life is quieter now. I am less socially active than I was before, but I am finding (TBI). I am careful about how I choose to spend my time, as I have so little “functioning” time to spend.

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

“Me”

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

I enjoy having the awareness of how valuable time truly is.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

My limitations

14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

Counseling and the love and support of my husband and children have helped me to accept my TBI.

15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

My home is quieter, and we have gotten rid of a lot of things. I get over-stimulated easily, so we streamlined our home. My relationships have changed greatly. There are fewer people in my life – I found that family and friends stopped coming around and calling. Slowly, over that past eight months, I am seeing some of “The Lost” coming back. Over all, people found the changes in me hard to understand and accept.

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

I go out less, and I am careful about the events I attend. It takes a lot of planning and preparation for me to go somewhere. The spontaneity is gone from my life.

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

My husband is my main caregiver. I don’t go far without him. I truly do understand what it takes to be a caregiver. (It helps the understanding that I am the mother of four children.)

18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

My plans are to keep moving forward. I look back to where I was four years ago, and I know that I never want to go back there. The only way to prevent that is to keep “getting better.” As for ten years from now, I don’t know. I have become a “one-day-at-a-time” person. What I can say is that I hope to see that I have been able to reclaim some of my independence.

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

My advice is to be gentle with yourself. I lost a lot of time trying to “force” myself to be who I once was.

20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?Deb Cody Pre accident

Planning, preparation, and pacing are huge in my life now. On days when I think I am “Superman” and can “fly” by the seat of my pants, the “kryptonite” (my brain injury) “defeats” me every time! The three things above will make your life so much easier. Look for something good in every day. Remember to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem to others. And, be gentle with yourself. It takes time to create something as amazing as you are going to be!

 

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the interviewee.)

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI Survivor Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . . . . . . . National Hockey League Player Retires at 24 Because of Concussions

National Hockey League Player Retires at 24 Because of Concussions

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

newsboy-thFootball and hockey are the two sports that are responsible for the majority of concussions in athletes. A concussion is now known to be a brain injury and can be serious. More and more people are becoming aware of the possibility that a concussion may lead to a major life-change.Capitals_Predators_Hockey-09eb6

Previously I wrote about Chris Borland, a starting rookie linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL (National Football League) who quit after one season because of his concerns about brain injury.

Now, Patrick Wey is quitting the Washington Capitals in the NHL (National Hockey League) at a young age (24) 185618_ebbecause he had two concussions in 2014. Wey plans to substitute “educational interests” for hockey.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post:

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.anim0014-1_e0-1

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

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