TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘San Francisco 49ers’

SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . . . . . . “Concussion” Movie Based on True Story – (trailer)

“Concussion” Movie Based on True Story – (trailer)

starring Will Smith

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

newsboy-thAmerica loves football, but the National Football League (NFL) fears a new movie that will be released on December 25, 2015. Team owners in the NFL are already preparing their responses to the movie, “Concussion.”will-smith-concussion-01-600x350

There are a lot people who believe that football cannot survive, including George Visger, a former NFL defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers. His comments can be heard in my interview of him two weeks ago during my radio show, “Another Fork in the Road,” on the Brain Injury Radio Network. A rookie linebacker in the NFL resigned after one year of play over fear of brain injury. Already there is a 2.2% decline in participation in high school football, including an even higher rate of decline in Texas, which has led the nation in football players for two decades. One elementary school banned tackling and instituted flag football, to no objections. As more and more parents become aware of the risk of contact sports to the human brain (some will because of this movie), the rate of decline in youth football will increase, and the pool of talented NFL-bound athletes will get smaller. (Full story and trailer)

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” with Former NFL San Fran 49er, George Visger and Caregiver, Kendra Hammond Brittain

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road”

with

Former NFL San Fran 49er, George Visger

and 

Caregiver, Kendra Hammond Brittain

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Visger-275x300Former NFL San Fran 49er, George Visger talked about the dangers of football and brain injury. He also discussed hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and Cranial-Sacral therapy, which he believes have helped him.

Kendra Brittain 2 Survivor 042315Kendra Hammond Brittain joined for the last half of the show to tell of her son’s football injury, which caused his TBI.

If you missed this show on “Another Fork in the Road” on August 16th, 2015, don’t fret. You can listen to the archived show here. Click the link below.

See you “On the Air!”

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” with Former NFL San Fran 49er, George Visger and Caregiver, Kendra Hammond Brittain

Click here for a list of all “Another Fork in the Road” shows on the Brain Injury Radio Network.

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

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So, Whaddya Think? . . . . . . . . Tackle Football League for Young Girls – REALLY, Utah! What Are You Thinking?

Outrageous: A Tackle Football League for Young Girls

by

David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

So Whaddya Think Brain th-4There is growing public concern, backed by scientific evidence, about the violence of football and the possibility of a life-altering brain injury, especially in children. Former professional players have spoken out about the risks inherent to the game of football. Evidence now exists that a concussion can be dangerous (1, 2), especially to the developing brain of a young player. Even the repetitive sub-concussive hits can be harmful. Legendary quarterback Joe Namath, who had a recent scare with his cognitive functioning, said that if he knew then what is known now, he wouldn’t have played. A talented rookie linebacker on the San Francisco 49ers has quit the game after one season, saying “…I don’t want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise.”

Utah organizers are excited to establish the first tackle football league for girls. A video of a nine-year-old girl, Sam Gordon – now twelve, playing tackle football in a boys’ league confirms that she is talented and shows what many of us have always believed – that girls can be as skilled as boys. The Utah Girls Tackle Football League has teams of fifth- and sixth-grade girls. To enhance its visibility, the league advertises Sam Gordon as a marquee player.

This is dangerous and a step in the wrong direction. At a time when some adults are calling for the abolishment of children’s football leagues, Utah has established a tackle football league for girls. It’s one thing when players are old enough to understand the risks and decide to play, but it’s another thing when children trust that their parents will protect them. I’m sure that every parent who allows a child to play football is well-meaning, but those parents are likely to be unaware of the risks. We have a lot of work to do to spread awareness about football’s risk of brain injury.

There is no doubt that the games in this new league will be exciting. But, how many girls will have their lives dramatically changed by a brain injury?

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

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

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . . . . . . Chris Borland – Rookie Linebacker Retires Over Fear of Brain Trauma

Rookie Linebacker, Chris Borland,  Retires Over Fear of Brain Trauma

 

newsboy-thChris Borland, a promising rookie linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers, retired after one year of a four-year contact because the possibility of brain disease wasn’t “worth the risk.” (Full story 1; story and video 2)Borland, Chris

There is a growing body of evidence that repeated head trauma can lead to neurological problems and premature death. A NewsBit on this blog reported that a University of Tulsa study revealed changes to the brains of football players, even in the absence of a documented concussion. Last season, an Ohio State University football player apparently committed suicide. Concussions may have had a role in his death. The National Football League (NFL), the premier professional football organization in the United States, is in the middle of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit over concussions and neurological problems.

Chris Borland gave careful thought to his early and unexpected retirement. He talked with family, friends, teammates, and brain researchers before making his decision to retire from a game he was good at. He said the game is inherently dangerous, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but a player should make an informed decision. Borland also said, “There’s just too much unknown for me, and there have been too many tragedies for me to be comfortable playing…I just want to live a long, healthy life, and I don’t want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise.” He was asked about walking away from probable wealth. Borland answered that no amount of money could take the place of being there for his family. (Full story 3)

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . George Visger (former NFL 49er)

SPEAK OUT! – George Visger

(former NFL SF 49er)

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

#74 NFL San Francisco 49er, George Visger @ 1981

#74 NFL San Francisco 49er, George Visger @ 1981

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

George Visger

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

Cypress, California, USA     visgergeorge@gmail.com

3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?

I was first injured – had surgery – at age 22 during the 1981 Super Bowl season with the San Francisco 49ers.

4. How did your TBI occur?

I had a number of concussions throughout my 12 years of playing organized football. My first serious concussion occurred at age 13, during my third year of Pop Warner. I was hospitalized on that one. My final, and most severe, concussion occurred in 1980 against the Dallas Cowboys. I suffered a major TBI in the first quarter, yet I never missed a play by the use of over 20 smelling salts during the game (or so I was told later in the week when my memory returned). I also never missed a practice. Several months later, early in the ‘81 season, I developed hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and underwent emergency VP (ventriculoperitoneal) shunt brain surgery at Stanford. I have since survived nine emergency VP shunt brain surgeries, including five in a nine-month period in ‘86-‘87 while completing my Biology degree. I have also had several gran mal seizures, and I have been on anti-seizure meds for over 30 years.

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

I realized I had a problem during the ‘81 season. I developed major headaches and projectile vomiting. I saw balls of light in front of each eye each night. The team doctors diagnosed me with high blood pressure and prescribed diuretics for over two weeks, until I suffered focal point paralysis of my right arm. The team doc diagnosed me in the locker room with a brain hemorrhage. I drove myself to the hospital, where I underwent emergency VP shunt brain surgery.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have (e.g., surgery,

tracheotomy, G-peg)?

I have had nine emergency VP shunt brain surgeries since then. They drilled a hole in my skull and installed a permanent drain tube, which runs to a pressure valve in the back of my head. They plumbed that to drain into my abdomen. I am also on Lamictil for seizures.

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

Nine months after my first shunt surgery, the shunt failed while I was fishing in Mexico with my brother. It took him a day to get me home, and I was in a coma from the pressure on my brain. I had two more brain surgeries ten hours apart and was given last rites. I was 23 at the time.

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., In-patient or Out-patient and Occupational, Physical, Speech, Other)?

I was never offered rehab. In fact, I was forced to sue the 49ers for Work Compensation just to get my second and third brain surgeries paid for. Until now, it was brain surgery, out the door, and “See you next shunt failure.” I did use Vocational Rehabilitation Services when I returned to school in ‘86 to complete my Biology degree. But, I was on my own to rehab after each of the five brain surgeries that I had while finishing my degree. I discovered B.R.A.I.N. (Brain Rehabilitation And Injury Network) founded by Sue Rueb in Cypress, CA, last year while speaking at a TBI conference. I literally moved there last August to get daily treatments – first treatments I have ever had. I do neurocognitive therapy and Yoga therapy, and I counsel other TBI survivors, which helps me as well.

How long were you in rehab?

I’ve been rehabbing since August 2013.

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

I have gran mal seizures, MAJOR short-term memory issues, poor judgment, anger-management issues, loss of direction, poor concentration, problems getting my words out or thinking of the right word, numbness in extremities, constant headaches, vision problems when my shunt goes out, diminished hearing, personality changes, problems handling finances, and brain seizures from alcohol, to name a few.

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

I completed a Biology degree in 1990 at age 32 after eight brain surgeries, and I followed my second dream to be a wildlife biologist. I have never let my injury define me, and I thank God for it. I wouldn’t be where I am now had I not been injured. But recently, things have begun to spiral out of control. I lost my environmental consulting business (Visger & Associates, Inc.) in 2009, and I lost our house in 2011. My wife of nearly 19 years, and the mother of my children, and I are going through a divorce. It’s been too much for her.

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?Visger, George  2008-06-15 21.03.51

I miss my family. I miss being The Giant – the guy who “could do anything,” as my wife used to say. I miss being able to remember things. I literally do not remember numerous out-of-state bow-hunts, months of my life, kids’ activities, etc.

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

I enjoy being able to use my injuries to help others. I feel it is my God given mission in life now.

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

Loss of my marriage

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

I’ve been helped by my belief that God has a plan for me and that “something good comes out of everything.”

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

It has destroyed my marriage, and I lost my ability to provide for my family.

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

Social activities were impacted, as I liked to drink back in the day. Now the only impact is that I will forget to attend a social outing. I have never been embarrassed about my injuries. I’m just as goofy now as I was before my injury.

17. Who is your main caregiver?

I was single until my late 30’s, and I have been my main caregiver ever since. My mom stepped in for a few days during surgeries, and my older brother, whom I worked with, kept an eye on me. My wife has done what she could over the years, but she has never been through a surgery with me.

Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

I understand better than most what it takes to be a caregiver. I also understand what caregivers go through. I call it the “Ripple Effect.” My family members and caregivers have taken a worse beating from my TBI than I have. It is much harder on our loved ones than it is on ourselves.

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

I founded The Visger Group – Traumatic Brain Injury Consulting in 2010, and I have spoken all over the country. I coordinate directly with the NFL on rule changes to reduce TBIs in football at all levels. I have spoken at congressional hearings, conduct motivational talks at schools and businesses, and currently am working with our veterans suffering from TBI. I am also suffering from frontal lobe dementia, and I hope to kick a few butts and rattle a few cages while I can, in hopes of changing the way the medical field treats TBI survivors and families. In ten years, I expect to be working with government agencies, our military, academics, and sports leagues. I plan to be leading and speaking at TBI-recovery groups.

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 TBI survivors with your specific kind of TBI.

George Visger #74  4th row from bottom, 2nd from right  @ 1981

George Visger #74
4th row from bottom, 2nd from right
@ 1981

In football, there is a saying: “Short, Choppy Steps.” If you over-stride, it’s easy for someone to knock you on your butt. You want to keep your butt down, your head up, and take short, powerful 12-inch strides. Forget about breaking long touchdown runs. Get the little things done each day, and you will reach your goals. If a football team only got four yards each play – no more, no less – they would never lose a game. Think about it. They would get a first down every three plays, and they would score every time they had the ball. Life is no different. You need long-term goals for sure: score a touchdown, win the game, win the Super Bowl. But, you will NEVER get there if you don’t get your four yards a carry. We sell wrist bands on our website (www.thevisgergroup) that say “Short, Choppy Steps” and another one we give to coaches and players that says “Use your head, DON’T use your head.” Focus on small daily victories, and you’ll win the game.

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

Keep in mind everyone has a cross to bear. Carry your cross; don’t let it carry you. All of us TBI survivors have a lot to give to everyone. Turn your negative into a positive and touch people’s lives. Focus on your positives. Work hard, and put it in God’s hands. It will all work out.

That’s all anyone can do.

 

You can learn more about George Visger on his blog and these YouTube videos.

George Visger Blog – Life Before and After Football

 

George Visger talks about his life in these videos:

The Damage Done — George Visger’s Concussions

Battle Scars: Stagg High Alum, Former 49er Fights on Despite Brain Injuries

 

George Visger addresses specific topics in these very short videos:

Do Helmets Give Football Players a False Sense of Safety?Visger-275x300

Would This Retired NFL Player Do It Again?

 

Thank you, George, for taking part in this interview. I hope that your experience will offer some hope, comfort, and inspiration to my readers.

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

(Photo compliments of George.)

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

 

So, Whaddya Think? . . . . . . . Contact Sports Are Not Safe for Children

So . . . what do you think? Is there something you are passionate about in this TBI 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 1,000 words. Send to donnaodonnellfigurski@gmail.com

I hope to HEAR from you soon.

So Whaddya Think Brain th-4

Contact Sports Are Not Safe for Children

by

David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

In 4-6 weeks, American football players will be getting ready for the 2014-2015 season. Millions of people enjoy playing the sport – from the pros in the NFL to college and high school athletes to young children in Pop Warner leagues. Millions more enjoy watching the sport and participating in pools and fantasy leagues. There is no question that football is a major part of US culture.

I admit I enjoy watching the game, but do players and spectators really know the risk involved? As a TBI survivor and someone who has learned first-hand how a brain injury can dramatically change a person and affect his or her life, as well as significantly change the lives of loved ones, I have become acutely aware of the dark side of contact sports. This revelation has been reinforced by the interviews Donna has published on this blog.

Many of the news items posted here have to do with the risk of brain injury in contact sports. Donna and I also posted an opinion about the danger of some sports to children. In fact, one of the TBI survivor interviews was by a young girl whose brain was injured during a volleyball match. On Thursday, Donna and I watched the PBS Frontline report (available online) called “League of Denial” about the NFL and its policy on concussions. The next interview will be from a former defensive lineman of the San Francisco 49ers, who had to quit because of a brain injury. A recent documentary, “Gladiators: The Uncertain Future of American Football” (trailer here), depicts the brutality of football. On the other hand, Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL, has gotten behind the Zackary Lystedt Law, which is designed to protect young players with a concussion. The PBS and Lystedt videos show contrasting sides of the NFL. I recommend watching both.

Knowing what I know now has greatly diminished my enthusiasm for contact sports, especially football. I see a crisis growing, but awareness by the public is also increasing. It is important that we make at least players, parents, coaches, and educators fully aware of the risk to the developing brains of young people. A brain injury can affect someone’s entire life. No parent wants that for his or her child. We who know need to speak out.

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

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

If you REALLY 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. That works for me too!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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