bigstock-Soccer-Ball-In-Goal-47239690 2For six months, I have been anxiously waiting to see how FIFA, US Soccer, US Club Soccer USCS, American Youth Soccer Organization AYSO, California Youth Soccer Association, Inc, would respond to the class action lawsuit filed against them on August 27, 2014,  This lawsuit pit three mothers and two female college students vs FIFA, soccer’s worldwide governing body—the Fèdèration Internationale de Football Association, soccer’s worldwide governing body and affiliated soccer organizations in the United State.

This lawsuit demands no financial rewards but only that FIFA and the soccer other organizations mentioned, make the following changes to their program:

  1. Implement up-to-date guidelines for detection of head injuries
  2. Implement up-to-date RTP after a concussion
  3. Regulation of heading by players under 17 years old
  4. Eliminate heading under 14 years old age groups
  5. Implement a rule change to permit substitution of players for medical evaluation purposes. (Currently, FIFA rules generally allow only three substitutions per game with no clear provision for head injuries. If an athlete bleeds, even from a scrape, removal is required, but no similar rule exists for concussions. FIFA provides no guidance on substitutions in youth games in the U.S.)
  6. Implement medical monitoring for soccer players who received head injuries in the past

Filed on January 30, 2015, Motions to Dismiss Papers by FIFA and the others make it very clear who should be held liable in future concussion lawsuits. Take a guess? No, flip through 1 or 2 of these.

I had hoped this soccer lawsuit would force the hands of these international and national leaders in soccer to produce a unified concussion plan for youth players. Instead I was sadden to read the responsibly being pushed down squarely upon the shoulders of the volunteer coach – the one with “direct contact” with the children. 

In my non-legal opinion, the Motions to Dismiss papers, in nutshell, state that none of the international or national soccer organizations are responsible to change any rules around concussion issues because:

1. They “lack direct contact with the players.” THUS SHIFTING BLAME TO THE VOLUNTEER COACHES

2. They “have no duty to make the game safer or to ameliorate risks inherent in the sport; their only duty is to not increase such risks. “ STATUS QUO IS STATUS QUO

3. FIFA clearly states it “has no legal duty to Plaintiffs to prevent risks that are inherent in the sport, like those from heading a soccer ball.”  PARENTS – YOU KNEW THE RISKS FOR YOUR CHILDREN

4. US Soccer states, “Legislature in each of those states has specifically addressed the issue of concussion management for youth sports, and none has imposed such obligations on an organization like US Soccer. Rather, like the Consensus Statement, the focus of the various state concussion laws is on educating and assigning responsibility to those individuals who have direct contact with the players to prevent a child suspected of having suffered a concussion from returning to play without first obtaining clearance from the child’s medical provider.”

These papers a chilling read for I think this “not our responsibly” approach will do more to scare the volunteer coach away from working with kids than asking them to do 20 min online CDC training course. Sadly, this fear-based response will not help to make a sport I love any safer for our kids. There is no reason to fear concussion safety education unless you fear knowing CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver, too?

Just as parents and older teens take the safe boarding course before they head out for a day on the water, all adults and older teens heading out to play land sports should take the 20 minute, FREE, online CDC Coaches Training for the sake of their own liability.

Don’t wait for FIFA to lead the way… Just take the CDC course and go coach youth soccer!!

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His name is Carson Barry and he is 12 years old. Carson has been researching concussions for over two years since his brother, who suffered several hockey concussions, committed suicide.

Carson lives in Butte, Montana, and plays on a youth hockey team. He is the youngest of four brothers; and in this photo from 2009, the boys sitting left to right are Tanner, Cullan, Travis, and Carson.

Born into a hockey family, Carson was on skates by the age of two and as soon as he was old enough, he began to play youth hockey like his older brothers had done. In this photo, Carson, age 2, being helped by brother, Cullan, and his mom, Christine. This day was Carson’s first time on skates.

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I first learned about the Barry Family from Christine Barry’s post on TheConcussionBlog.com, Sept. 17, 2011:

Our son, Cullan Barry, died from suicide May 13, 2011. He was a hockey player and had received a concussion on Feb 26, 2011; but in Dec 2009, he also had been sent to the hospital by ambulance following an illegal hit in the back that sent him down like a rag doll. They did a CAT scan of his head said it was fine and focused on his knee that had hit the boards. He was off the ice for six weeks with the knee injury but had ongoing migraines. No doctor every told us that ongoing migraines could be tied to a brain injury form the hockey hit, no doctor ever told us to watch for such things. 

His grades dropped he had difficulty with insomnia with fatigue, with concentrating on things like English and math, but we kept thinking his migraines were food-related. Now I believe the headaches, insomnia, and fatigue were all related to that big hit injuring his brain and other hits in hockey continuing to injure his head. However, doctors assured us the CAT scans were fine. 

At the Feb. 2011 (ER visit), the ER doctor did not even come into the room to check him and just told the nurse what to do and say. We were given standard do not play for couple weeks and he was released with no discussion of symptoms to look for of ongoing brain trauma. Cullan had a migraine the night he died. I think ER doctors need to be greatly more informed about concussions and parents of athletes need this information about post concussion syndrome, brain injuries caused by multiple impacts over time. 

I reached out to Christine, Carson’s mom, to hear more about her son, and we spoke on the phone about Cullan’s life, his tragic death and wondered what role concussions may have played in his decision to take his life. We promised to stay in touch.

Christine wrote me in the Fall of 2013, and asked me to participate in her youngest son’s science fair project. I offered to help Carson with the project which was a Facebook survey about suicide and contact sports.

From: Christine 

Subject: Science project results

Date: March 21, 2014 at 11:00:29 PM EDT

To: Katherine

Dear Katherine,

Thank you for your help with Carson’s survey.

Carson won a blue ribbon for 5-6th grade science projects, a gold medal for behavioral science projects, an award for best 5-6th grade science projects, and an award for top ten science projects out of 482 5-8th grade projects at the Montana regional science fair. He is only in 5th grade so was too young to go to the state science fair. 

So thank you for your responses to his survey.

I have included the graphs of his results which he, I and evidently the judges found jaw dropping:

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 4.29.24 PM

The best of all this is he is already planning what he wants to do for next year which is he wants to get helmet sensors and measure how hard an impact can cause a concussion and how hard of an impact would cause kids to report symptoms to coaches or parents. He wants to use his hockey team, 10-12 year olds. This would give impact results on much younger kids as most research is on college or pros and would also give some insight into reporting tendencies of children in sports. 

So do you have any ideas about what helmet sensors would be the best? There are several out there including one that has a phone app to alert when a kid may have had too hard of a hit or need a concussion eval.

Thank you,

Chris

I was excited to see if I could help Carson and reached out to some sensor people I knew. But first, I asked Carson to write me a letter explaining what he wanted to accomplish so I could pitch his project to some sensor companies. These research-grade sensors are extremely expensive and I needed evidence that this 12 year old was a serious researcher and not like my own kids who just hit my sample sensors with baseball bats.

Here is a letter I received from Carson explaining his project:

Reducing Suicide Risk by Reducing Brain Injuries and Concussions

My name is Carson Barry and I have been researching concussions and a possible link to suicide for my school science projects for the last 2 years. I am 11 years old and I go to Silver Bow Montessori School in Butte Montana.

My interest in this research started after my brother committed suicide at the age of 17 following a series of concussions he had in an 18 month period. My family and I have felt his death was related to the concussions. We lobbied the Montana legislator to pass a concussion education and return to play law in our state.  We hosted a concussion education and safe play clinic at our hockey rink last fall. 

photo (7)Last year for my fourth grade science project I surveyed 3 high school hockey teams about whether players had experienced concussions, how many concussions, what symptoms they had and how long it took for them to be symptom free.  I found 27 players who had concussions or a whole hockey team.  Contrary to what my brother had been told by doctors who treated him that it would take about 2 weeks to heal from a concussion, I found it was taking the hockey players an average of 3- 6 months to be symptom-free and several players were still having symptoms after a year. I also found that 67% of the players reported that they had thoughts of self harm while recovering from their concussions.

The fact that 67% of hockey players recovering from a concussion had thoughts of self-harm seemed very alarming. I thought someone needed to research whether a brain injury was a suicide risk. So this year for my fifth grade science project I put a survey on Facebook asking people who had lost a loved one to suicide if that person had a previous brain injury and if they had played a contact sport where they could have had an unreported or misdiagnosed concussion. My results found that 70% of the suicides had a previous brain injury. When I added in suicides who had played a contact sport the number jumped to 84%. This again was alarming. I felt that if these athletes could better identify when their brain is injured,  better report their symptoms, or be better treated for the injury these deaths could be prevented.

For my science project next year, I would like to research what force or impact it takes to cause a concussion in youth athletes. I want to compare the impact force to when and what symptoms a player reports. I want to see if players tend to under report or brush off symptoms compared to when an impact sensor says they should be evaluated.  I would like to use helmet sensors on my PeeWee hockey team (ages 10-13).  Then I would like the players to fill out symptom checklists after a game and for the next week.  Most impact helmet sensor research has been done on college or pro athletes and I think it is the younger athletes’ brains who are more fragile. I think my findings can help players protect their brains and reduce their risk of suicide.

I was wondering if your organization could help me get helmet sensors for my project. My hockey team will have 10-12 players next season.

I can be reached at my Mom’s e-mail at 

Thank you very much,

Carson Barry

image001With Carson’s letter in hand, I reached out to Danny Crossman CEO of Impakt Protective to see if his company could loan Carson research-grade quality sensors. Danny agreed to help and would able to loan Carson some sensors when the UPMC researchers were finished with their project thus Carson’s project was set for the fall of 2014.

Working with sensors is not easy for adults, and Danny cautioned me this would be a difficult project for a young researcher:  

“Carson should know that studying one team of 10-12 years olds (15-20 kids) wont yield a lot of data (usually 2-3 hits over 40g per contact game) and certainly won’t yield a lot of concussions (probably 3-5 per season at most).”

But Carson was determined, so the now the wait for the sensor began.

In October, we got the good news from Danny…

From: Danny

To: Christine

CC: Katherine

Subject: RE: Good news

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:04:29 -0400

20 Shockbox sensors will ship out to you this week for Carson to use. They are used (during a University of Pittsburgh hockey study) and  will come with chargers and user cards. They are the HD-R (research) version and are equipped with a gyro to measure rotation (this is an estimate since it is hard to do accurately) and a 3-axis accelerometer to measure linear peak g (this is the standard measurement for head impacts). 

I was so excited for Carson to have the chance to fulfill his dream project and I wanted to stay in the loop so I asked Christine and Carson to send me photos and progress reports on the project.

From: Christine 

To: Katherine 

Subject: RE: sensors

Date: November 4, 2014 at 8:23:48 PM EST

I am sure he would love to send you updates, it would be good for him to log as he goes for his project IMG_0476anyway. He was cute as we were driving home from school, he saw a UPS truck and said “Oh I bet they have my sensors, hurry Mom we have to get home!” And indeed they arrived about 30 minutes later. [The photo is Carson with the newly arrived sensors.)

After a great deal of work learning how to use [including charging, syncing, recording data, and understanding the results] the sensors and convincing adults and kids to participate in the project, Carson used the sensors for 7 games total for his project. Not once did a ref ask about themIMG_0474 so refs didn’t even really noticing them. I did not tell the refs prior to games they were wearing them and I was a bit leary of refs questioning them but they did not seem to even notice. I did ask the MAHA board if they could wear them in league games, they asked if they enhance performance? I had to explain them to the board and then they said no problem.

IMG_0475Here are some of the boys right before they head to ice, right after putting sensors.

[For more about the Carson’s results, stay tuned to my next post]

Carson worked very hard on his project and his efforts paid off. Last week, Carson won a blue ribbon and a gold medal at his school science fair then top fifth/sixth grade science project and $50 at regional fair. There were 450 projects at the fair of which half of those fifth/sixth grade projects so he did very well said his proud mom.

Carson goes to a Montessori school and presented his project to the whole school on last Thursday. The whole school was impressed with his work.

IMG_0545IMG_0553Note the red hat that Carson is wearing in the picture. This hat belonged to his brother, Cullan. Carson’s mom can rarely get Carson to take the hat off and is getting very tattered now. Carson’s grandfather bought the hat for Cullan when he went to a USA hockey conference. Carson has adopted it and worn it quite religiously since Cullan died.

Carson promised his mom he would take it off when speaking to the judges, but as you can see  in the photos he wore it both before the judges came and has it right back on after they left.

I look forward to hearing the next report from the Montana State Science fair to see how many more people are touched by this amazing young researcher. 

Carson will be presenting his project at state fair on March 16 and  17; and March 17 happens to be Cullan’s birthday.

[If you want to congratulate Carson, please leave a comment below and I will forward to his mom]

My city of Norwalk, CT, made history this week when Norwalk Common Council unanimously approved Youth Sport Concussion Guidelines extending concussion education and training for the 6,000 Norwalk youth athletes and 700 coaches who use town fields, gyms and facilitiesI believe this is the most progressive in the United States a new “standard of care” for young athletes age 3 to 18. I am truly grateful and thrilled to have accomplished this with such a broad ban of supporters.

While no law can prevent a concussion, these guidelines will increase safety for children while lowering risk liability for coaches, leagues and the city. These benefits were obvious to the City of Norwalk who unanimously approved Youth Sport Concussion Guidelines for the 6,000 youth athletes who use town fields, gyms and facilities. The current state law only protected Norwalk ’s 1,145 high school athletes. There was no opposition to the vote as all major Norwalk youth sports organizations supported the new guidelines.

These guidelines were necessary as the Connecticut State Concussion Law of 2010 (updated in 2014) only protected the 1,145 public high school athletes who played for their school teams, not the 6,000 youth athletes and their coaches. Under the new guidelines, any team using municipal facilities must adhere to this new standard of care.

Norwalk youth sports organizations and city government agreed expanding these safety guidelines to all age children was a “no-brainer” and clearly a win-win situation for everyone – increasing safety for an additional 6,000 children while lowering risk liability for coaches, leagues and the city. 

Before the vote was taken, public pledges of support for the new guidelines were given by: 

  • Norwalk Junior Soccer Association
  • Norwalk Youth Football and Cheer
  • Norwalk Cal Ripkin Baseball
  • Norwalk Little League
  • Norwalk Lacrosse Association

As of April 15, 2015, any sports team which wants to obtain a permit to use city fields, gym or courts must:

1. Train Coaches and Educate Parents, and Athletes:

a. Train coaches, through FREE CDC online training

b. Educate athletes and parents and guardians about concussion with FREE CDC concussion information fact handouts

 

2. Remove From Play ANY Athlete who is showing signs, symptoms, behaviors of concussion

a. REMOVE POSSIBLY INJURED PLAYERS showing the signs, symptoms and/or behaviors of a possible head injury

b. Immediately notify parents of injury

c. Request evaluation from a medical provider 

d. Hold out athlete from returning to play for at least 24 HOURS

 

3. Obtain Permission to Return to Play: An athlete can only return to play or practice after at least 24 hours and with written permission from a health care professional

 

4. Record Concussions and submit injury report via official online form to Rec & Park for any concussions over the season

The Norwalk Daily Voice

Norwalk Makes History With New Concussion Guidelines For Youth Sports

by Casey Donahue 02/27/15 

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk has become the first city in the state to approve a concussion program for its youth sports designed to protect injured kids and prevent them from further …  Read more

BEFORE A CONCUSSION 

In 8 minutes, here is the motivation, education and a FREE tool YOU CAN USE to help any child or adult. It is always best to have an athletic trainer be the first responder to a possible concussion, but without an AT, here is how a parent or volunteer coach can prepare:

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 1.00.06 PM

Why you need to be educated?

4 min Powerful Video scroll down half-way down article to see video about Ben

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 1.00.26 PMWhat you need to know?

4 min Funny Cartoon for kids and adults

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 1.09.29 PMHow can you be prepared?

Free SmartPhone APP for all coaches and parents to download now

 

 

 

AFTER A CONCUSSION

This 10 minute video is the best guide for how to recover created by Dr. Mike Evans and Dr. Gerry Gioia, published August 2014.

 

I have expressed my displeasure before on this blog of the slow nature of NFHS to respond to the concussion issue. I will let the documents speak for themselves and check out my good friend, Dustin’s blog.

For the guidelines themselves, click link below:

NFHS announces guidelines on football full contact

For Dustin’s thoughts see http://theconcussionblog.com/2014/11/13/nfhs-develops-concussion-guidelines-for-football/

And here is the official Press Release…

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF STATE
HIGH SCHOOL ASSOCIATIONS

NEWS RELEASE

NFHS Concussion Task Force Recommendations to be Discussed by State Associations for Implementation in 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE​Contact: Bob Colgate

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (November 13, 2014) — The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has finalized its position paper from the NFHS Concussion Summit Task Force, which met in July to develop recommendations for minimizing the risk of concussions and head impact exposure in high school football.
The recommendations, which have been shared with the 51 NFHS-member state high school associations, and approved by the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) and the NFHS Board of Directors, will be discussed by state associations at the NFHS Winter Meeting in early January for implementation in the 2015 football season.
The 24-member task force, which featured medical doctors, athletic trainers, high school coaches and key national leaders in high school sports, developed nine fundamentals for minimizing head impact exposure and concussion risk in football. They were designed to allow flexibility for state associations that collectively oversee the more than 15,000 high schools across the country that have football programs. As a result, each state high school association will be developing its own policies and procedures for implementation in the 2015 season.
Many of the recommendations focus on reducing the amount of full contact, including limiting the amount of full contact in practices during the season.
The Concussion Summit was the latest effort by the NFHS to minimize risk for the almost 7.8 million student participants in high school sports. In 2008, the SMAC advocated that a concussed athlete must be removed from play and not allowed to play on the same day. For the past five years, all NFHS rules publications have contained guidelines for the management of a student exhibiting signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion. In 2010, the NFHS developed on online course – “Concussion in Sports – What You Need to Know” – and about 1.7 million individuals have taken the course through the NFHS Coach Education Program at www.nfhslearn.com.
The “Recommendations and Guidelines for Minimizing Head Impact Exposure and Concussion Risk in Football” position paper is posted on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org.

About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)
The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 16 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.7 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org.

MEDIA CONTACTS:​Bruce Howard, 317-972-6900
​Director of Publications and Communications
​National Federation of State High School Associations
​bhoward@nfhs.org

​Chris Boone, 317-972-6900
​Assistant Director of Publications and Communications
​National Federation of State High School Associations
​cboone@nfhs.org

SEE UPDATE

soccer-ball-300x200This summary is based on information posted on the Hagens Berman S Shapiro LLP website and is my unofficial review of the lawsuit I have hash tagged as #TheFIFA5. NOTE: I am not a lawyer, and am merely outlining the suit as I read it. I welcome comments and thoughts.

On August 27, 2014, a Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against FIFA, U.S. Youth Soccer Over Concussions made headlines. This lawsuit pits three mothers and two female college students vs FIFA, soccer’s worldwide governing body—the Fèdèration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)—and affiliated soccer organizations in the United States

  • US Soccer Federation
  • U.S. Youth Soccer + American Youth Soccer (over 3 US million child and adolescent soccer players)

Note: In 2013, FIFA reported $1.386 billion in revenue.  The 2014 World Cup brought FIFA $1.2 billion from U.S. broadcasters. This lawsuit states FIFA has failed to enact the policies and rules needed to protect soccer players. FIFA and the others mentioned…

  1. Failed to adopt effective policies to evaluate and manage concussions, at all levels of the game
  2. Lacked of effective policies poses a greater danger to women and children players, who may more vulnerable to traumatic and long-lasting brain injury
  3. Ignored medical community called for changes over a decade ago
  4. Ignored simple, best-practice guidelines, which have been updated three times since the initial international conference on concussions (FIFA even hosted)

FIFA has made progress…

  1. With Concussion Marketing and policy materials, which tout a commitment to player safety
  2. By implemented policies to address other health threats (cardiac arrest and performance-enhancing drugs)
  3. Hosted 2012 concussion conference that updated concussion guidelines

This lawsuit demands FIFA and others mentioned…

  1. Implement up-to-date guidelines for detection of head injuries
  2. Implement up-to-date RTP after a concussion
  3. Regulation of heading by players under 17 years old
  4. Eliminate heading under 14 years old age groups
  5. Implement a rule change to permit substitution of players for medical evaluation purposes. (Currently, FIFA rules generally allow only three substitutions per game with no clear provision for head injuries. If an athlete bleeds, even from a scrape, removal is required, but no similar rule exists for concussions. FIFA provides no guidance on substitutions in youth games in the U.S.)
  6. Implement medical monitoring for soccer players who received head injuries in the past

Crossed posted on PinkConcussions.com

The new 2014 CT Concussion Law applies to students K-12 as well as athletes.

Is your school ready with updated policies/practices for the 2014-15 year?

TINY_FINAL.3

The Concussion Conference: 2014 Connecticut Concussion Law & Research-Based Best Practices for K-12 Schools

Wednesday, Sept 24, 2014
Hosted by Quinnipiac University Medical School, North Haven Campus
Produced by Katherine Snedaker, LMSW
Sponsored by Gaylord Center for Concussion Care

Register at TheConcussionConference.com

Opening Remarks ESPN’s TJ Quinn
Keynote “Sports Concussions: What do we really know?”  Anthony Alessi, MD

Presentations from Medical, Academic, Legal and Athletic Concussion Experts for all levels of school staff

Administration Superintendents, Principals, Headmasters, Business Managers, ADs, Heads of Pupil Services
Athletic Dept. Staff ADs, ATs, Coaches
Clinical and Academic Staff School RNs, Guidance Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, ATs, Teachers

Schedule All Participants can come partial, half or full day

Continental Breakfast    7:45 AM
Administration Sessions  8 AM -10 AM
Athletic Dept. Sessions  8 AM-12 PM
Clinical/Academic Sessions  8 AM-4:30 PM  

Questions Katherine Snedaker 203-984-0860 Katherine@SportsCAPP.com

Speaker Final

Guest post by Jamie Lyall

Australia — It was rather telling that when Dr Alan Pearce was asked on Monday whether he would be attending the forthcoming Australian Football League concussion workshop, he replied, “What workshop?”

Over the past year, Pearce’s research at Deakin University, Melbourne has brought the struggles of several former AFL and rugby league stars to the Australian public, and so thrust sports concussion into the limelight Down Under.

The cognitive impairments and short-term memory problems suffered by the likes of ex-Carlton midfielder Greg “Diesel” Williams and Test-level forward Ian Roberts are well-documented – both have featured prominently on national television – while, more worryingly, Pearce found that their amateur counterparts are liable to exactly the same symptoms minus the corresponding level of medical care and financial security.

It is surprising then that while the wise medics and scientists of Australian Rules football come together to talk concussion this week, the man whose findings brought the entire debate to a head in Australia will be sat alone in his office on the other side of Melbourne’s sprawling concrete jungle. He may as well be on the moon.

But perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised; we’ve seen this before, after all.

The closed-shop, suppressive nature of the AFL’s handling of the concussion debate finds worrying resonance in the path trodden by their transatlantic cousins in the National Football League for many years.

The Australian administrators have tried desperately to distance themselves from the Stateside furore, and the findings made by Boston University’s team of researchers, who have posthumously diagnosed degenerative brain disease in hundreds of former athletes.

But a brilliant investigative report by ABC’s Wendy Carlisle last week revealed the true extent of the AFL’s deficiencies. She found that their official definition of concussion was false. That their flagship research programmes only began in 2012, had collected no data as yet, and were not in their fifth year of running as the body had claimed in its annual reports. That Associate Professor Paul McCrory, the man recognised as Australian Rules’ concussion expert-in-chief, had not published an original research article in over a decade.

Carlisle didn’t have to do much digging to scrape away the façade of PR progressiveness churned out to the masses and reveal the lingering beast of rejection and denial that lurked beneath, head wedged firmly in sand.

The AFL was not best pleased by what it saw as an affront on its treasured brand. Tough, I say.

Covert conferring between those almost exclusively funded by the body itself of or by one of its constituent clubs is exactly what the administrators must avoid. The debate shouldn’t be hemmed in, restricted to the nods, murmurs and consensus among researchers voting with their grant money.

McCrory in particular is renowned in the science community for discounting ideas and methodology proposed by new research groups, on the grounds that he once undertook similar investigations with far more primitive equipment and came up with nothing. Yet his comments regarding media hype and sensationalism reek of irony given it is his views that fuel much of the coverage.

The likes of McCrory and Associate Professor Gavin Davis, another member of the AFL working group who shares the increasingly flawed logic inherent in the former’s position are emerging as little more than water-muddying mouthpieces. Davis especially has blasted the Boston research – just months after leading concussion campaigner Chris Nowinski had addressed the body and the Players’ Association – during an unsavoury radio interview with Roberts.

Funded directly or indirectly by the AFL, they tell their research paymasters just what they want to hear in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. Their stance grows more untenable with each passing weekend, each damning report, each player that returns to football concussed, each former hero battling through middle-age with a brain that cannot cope with simple, everyday tasks.

It is no fluke that in the days after Carlisle’s report was broadcast, the AFL dished out a spin-laden press release detailing their plans to screen and scan the brains of retired players in their much-vaunted MRI machine.

The study format itself appears encouraging and is certainly long overdue. The announcement was merely another indicator of the AFL’s determination to avoid accepting the true risks posed by head injury, and so its failure to look after those its success as a sport depends upon.

By Jamie Lyall

Jamie is a 20-year-old sportswriter based in Scotland, specialising in rugby union and soccer, and with a special interest in investigating, reporting and commenting on sports concussion.

Twitter @JLyall93

jamie.lyall@hotmail.com


Guest post by Peter Robinson

An account of the events by Peter Robinson, father of Benjamin Robinson who died at age 14, after playing a school Rugby game.

29th January 2011

  • Whilst playing in a schools Rugby Union match, Benjamin is accessed 3 times for Concussion and allowed to play on, finally collapsing in the final minute unconscious.

31st January 2011

  • Benjamin does not recover and his Life Support is switched off his organs are donated and in fact go on to save 5 other lives.
  • Initial report describes it as a freak accident.
  • Initial Cause of Death Diffusal Axonal Head Injury.

20th July 2011

  • Karen Benjamin’s Mother meets Professor Jack Crane State Pathologist in N. Ireland.
  • A copy of the Match Video given to family as the police did not analysis the video this was done by myself and it was found to be vital during the inquest in proving that Benjamin had indeed played a full half with Concussion.  Benjamin had been involved in a tackle at the start of the first half he remained on the ground for 1 minute 38 seconds, he was treated by the coach who pulled him to his feet and allowed him to play on.  (It is this incident that we later find out to be where Benjamin had been knocked out).
  • Second Impact Syndrome is discussed, Professor Jack Crane, Professor Brian Herron and Professor Stephen Cooke believe that Benjamin’s injuries are consistent with Second Impact Syndrome, family are informed of this by professor Crane, he advises the family that if Benjamin had been removed from play after the first concussion and protocol had been followed he would probably still be alive today.

Initial Police Investigation fails to establish what happened to Benjamin during the match.

October 2011

  • At a chance meeting by Karen with Mathew Davidson (a team mate) whilst at Benjamin’s grave, discloses that he believed Benjamin had been knocked out during the game.

As a result of the family insistence other statements were noted from a few of Ben’s teammates who stated that Ben had been confused and could not remember the score of the game, a spectator of the game also provided a statement in which he stated that he heard the Referee say Ben should come off now.   The noting of statements from all the players was prevented as the school felt that this was too traumatic for the boys to revisit the events of that day.

An adult member of the opposite team was first to attend to Ben when he collapsed, when he was asked for a statement he declined, the police advised Karen (Ben’s mother) to take the statement herself.

The family decide to instruct a solicitor Gabriel Ingram to try and support the Coroner’s investigation and speak for the family at the Inquest.

We are informed that the School will have a Barrister present to represent them.

30th August 2012 to 6th September 2012 – Initial Inquest – 1 day set aside, family request further time (Inquest actually lasts 6 days)

  • Inquest begins we hear evidence about Benjamin being treated on the pitch, at no stage was he removed to be assessed.
  • Referee gave evidence in which he said Benjamin appeared dazed but he had not heard of Scat 2 PCRT and indeed a year later still did not have a copy.
  • Ben’s coach was also the medic and linesman. Ben had been checked for concussion at least 3 times. (3 occasions that can be seen on video and 1 more confirmed in witness statements).
  • Inquest adjourned as the Coroner asked for further time to establish if other witnesses would come forward.

I re-examine the video and have it slowed down, it becomes very apparent that Ben had suffered a concussion at the start of the second half, throughout the second half of the video he is seen to stagger and hold his head and appears confused.

September 2013

Inquest resumes 1 year later.

  • Coroner concludes that the cause of death is Second Impact Syndrome, possibly the first recorded case of this in the UK, she recommends that changes are made to ensure this never happens again, she writes to the Education Minister for Northern Ireland and the IRFU.
  • Family decide to campaign for change throughout the UK.
  • Contact by email to all UK Education and Ireland Ministers asking to meet with them.

19th September 2013

  • Scottish Minister is first to respond and agree to highlight the issue by issuing a leaflet to all schools and sporting bodies in Scotland, this is issued in January 2014.
  • Agree to use “Concussion can be fatal “and” If in doubt sit them out “ slogans.

15th October 2013

  • Northern Irish Minister and Sports Minister meet family, very positive meeting.
  • Agree lessons need to be learned from Ben’s death.
  • Also agree to slogans in Information leaflet to pupils.

16th October 2013

  • Family travel to Dublin and meet IRFU, speak about children being the high risk group, ask that mandatory training be introduced to schools re coaches.
  • Separate information re children in other words age appropriate.
  • Request that information re Concussion should have the words “ CONCUSSION CAN BE FATAL”

12th November 2013

  • Chief Medical Officer in N.Ireland Mr Michael McBride writes to all GPs warning of the dangers of Concussion and especially Second Impact Syndrome.

November 2013

  • Meeting with Welsh Minister for Education, highlight the Dangers of Concussion and the failings re Ben’s death.

25th November 2013

  • Meeting with Chris Bryant Labour MP re Concussion in Sport also in attendance is Sam Peters from Daily Mail (Paper now running Concussion Campaign) Dr Willie Stewart on conference call.

27nd January 2014

  • Telephone conversation with Southern Irish reps from Education Department re Dangers of Concussion, they will liaise with N.Ireland counterparts re information on Concussion.

22nd January 2014

  • Scottish Government officially launch Concussion in Sport Leaflet to all schools.

4th March 2014

  • Attend Westminster re Concussion in Sport roundtable, chaired by Chris Bryant MP, also in attendance Dr Willie Stewart, Dr James Robson, Chris Nowinski, Lewis Moody, Rory Lamont,  Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Reps from  FA, RFU, and Boxing.
  • Ben’s family also attend meeting with representatives from the English Education Department.

30th April 2014

  • N. Ireland Launch Recognise and Remove Leaflet, Poster and Pocket Recognition Tool, nearly 800,000 leaflets, 16,000 Posters and 26,000 Pocket Recognition Tools. Government working on e-learning modules.  Stated that they would review awareness and if need be to introduce “Ben’s Law.”

Late Spring 2014

  • Welsh Government they are currently working on leaflet and are being advised by Dr Willie Stewart, the leaflet soon to be published.
  • Southern Ireland Government also in talks re Concussion Leaflet.
  • We are waiting on Chris Bryant’s MP findings from the Concussion in Sport round table.

TINY FINAL

One Day Concussion Management Training for School Nurses, School Staff and other Professionals who work with Concussed Students

The Concussion Conference 2.0

Wednesday, May 7, 2014  from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Quinnipiac University School of Medicine | 370 Bassett Road | North Haven, CT

Due to the overwhelmingly positive response from 78 School Nurses, 25 MDs, and 25 ATs who attended the Jan 2014 Concussion Conferences and requests for more concussion management training, this new conference includes both:

  • Advanced training with case studies for those who attended the 1st conferences to return for a higher level of study
  • Basic foundation sessions for new participants

This conference will provide basic and advanced concussion management training for:

  • School nurses
  • School psychologists
  • School guidance counselor/social workers
  • School special education directors
  • 504 Coordinators
  • Athletic Trainers
  • Physicians, PAs, and APRNs

See Flyer May2014 Concussion Conf_@QU(4)

Speakers for The May 7 Concussion Conference include nationally known experts and panels of local concussion professionals comprised of pediatricians, physical therapists, neuropsychologists, and advocates of brain injury prevention and athletic training education: Dr. Tricia McDonough-Ryan, Dr. Thomas Trojian, Katherine Snedaker MSW, Dr. David Wang, Dr. Mike Lee and the team of experts from Gaylord Center for Concussion Care, Representative from CATA; Deb Shulansky from Brain Injury Alliance of CT (BIAC); Brain Injury attorney and BIAC Board member Paul A. Slager; Charlie Wund, Founder & President Agency for Student Health Research; and Dr. Karissa Niehoff, The Executive Director at CT Association of Schools and CT Interscholastic Athletic Conference

Register now at TheConcussionConference.com  – Early bird pricing until Monday, April 7

Event produced by Katherine Snedaker, PinkConcussions.com and SportsCAPP.com

Co-sponsored by Gaylord Center for Concussion Care

Each participant will be trained and will leave with a framework and materials needed to create a Concussion Management Team. The purpose of the CMTeam is to handle the 80% of concussions that resolve in the first month, based on research and nationally recognized best practices.  For concussions that last beyond the 4 week period, academic accommodations will be taught which can be created in an IEP or a 504 plan for those students. Early Morning Sessions are split between: Foundation for First Time Participants

    • Concussion 101 for School Staff and Medical Providers
    • Concussion’s Impact on School: Strategies and Adjustments in the First 3 Weeks
    • Time to Retire? Factors in a teen’s decision to retire from contact sports

Advanced Case Studies for Participants from 1st conference or Concussion Professionals

    • Presentation of Case Study #1: A case from Gaylord Center for Concussion Care
    • Presentation of Case Study #2:  A case from Dr. Ryan and Kim Zemo, Social Worker

Late Morning and Afternoon Sessions for All Participants

  • Existing Models of Concussion “Return to School” Plans in the USA and CT
  • The Timing of Return to Learn (RTL), “Buffalo Protocol,” Return To Play in Student Athletes
  • Beyond the Diagnosis: Eyes, Balance and Gait
  • Post Concussion Syndrome: Depression, Isolation and Identity Loss, CTE Fact & Fiction
  • Post Concussion Syndrome: Academic Modifications After One Month, Home Life Support
  • New Research on “Does Concussion Education Work” and Concussion Resources
  • The Past: State of CT Concussion Law and Development of Module #15
  • The Present: CIAC’s Concussion Policy and Connecticut Law

Continuing Education Credits

  • Gaylord Hospital is an Approved Provider of Continuing Nursing Education by The Connecticut Nurses’ Association, an Accredited Approver by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. CNE application is pending for this program.
  • This program has been submitted to The Commission for Case Manager Certification for approval to provide case managers pending clock hours.
  • This activity is pending approval from the National Association of Social Workers.
  • Program pending CME Activity approval via CT AAP.

Register now at TheConcussionConference.com To participate as a conference sponsor or exhibitor, please contact Katherine at 203.984.0860 or Katherine@PinkConcussions.com         <May2014 Concussion Conf_@QU(4).pdf>