View Full Version : Concussion Concerns?

Dave Lapham
07-06-2010, 02:05 PM
My son is now a 34 year old adult that played high school and college football. He is concerned about what he is learning regarding contact that jarred his brain that may cause him future problems. He is wondering if he has a son, when should he allow him to play football,if at all. My high school, college and even early NFL years as an offensive lineman were in the "lead with your head" era of blocking and tackling technique. I have to admit it rattles me a little bit when I read that low impact trauma to the head that didn't result in concussions over a period of time can be very damaging long term. I'm sure a lot of you competed in a high level of football. I know Chris did, and now his sons are. What do you Dads think? My son was an I formation lead blocking fullback that had many a full speed collisions with downhill hole filling linebackers. Equipment is improving all the time. Committees are all about player safety first and foremost. We knew there was a physical risk in playing the game of football. No one held a gun to my head to play. I would do it all again too. Would you?

07-06-2010, 02:22 PM
I am not a father, I'll start there. I'd imagine it would be hard to watch, IF it were very visible. I'm sure more parents would have problems with their kids playing football if every Saturday morning the kid was dizzy and vomiting and stuff like that after a Friday night game. Again, I'm not a parent.

First of all, we have one life. We are led, and then we choose how to lead our own lives. I think it is a very good thing that more information is AVAILABLE, but for that to determine if your kid plays more traumatic sports when under 18 I disagree with. I played football, baseball, basketball (some organized, most in the neighborhood), I wrestled, and when I get healthy again, I'm going to be learning MMA (BJJ). I'm 26, and I know there are risks involved, and while I want to train, and spar, and learn, I don't want to compete because of a lot of the risks involved, although it is monitored very well. If and when I do have a son, one of the things I look forward to is putting him in sports, namely baseball and football (obviously not forced, BUT HE BETTER WANT TO! haha). I think it's important. Playing in the NFL is a great accomplishment. It's hard to say, "Ya know what, I may have problems down the road, so I'm going to take the safer path." Now, what may be even harder is being an 8 year veteran coming off of your 4th concussion, and not knowing when to say when. To us, it probably looks easy, HEY IDIOT, YOU ARE RISKING YOURSELF, WALK AWAY...however, I'd imagine that's one of the hardest things someone has to do, retire, and to retire early when physically you may be more than capable each Sunday for most of the 17 week season...that HAS to be tough and unexplainable to most family and friends.

07-06-2010, 07:11 PM
Yeah, this is definitely a scary situation. With all the information coming out, it seems like football is going to progress down the same path as boxing in the sense that the risk of full participation far outweighs the reward attained from the sense of victory, money earned, etc. But as DannyMilk pointed out, it's the athlete who decides if they want to participate. For some, the instant gratification of being on the field, feeling the grass under their cleats, having that rush as you complete a perfect tackle... For some that outweighs whatever risks that may be prevalent.

So I think there is a responsibility of the researchers (including myself) to give an honest assessment of the risks involved. This assessment needs to be clear cut and include all information that we currently have, as well as express that research has not been concluded and the player may be in danger of other mental, physical, and cognitive deficits if they continue playing this game. (Kind of a Surgeon General Warning, if you will? Ok, maybe that's a bad example.) But to protect the integrity and spirit of this game we all love, we need to focus on one thing: the player's health while maintaining the level of speed, skill, and power involved to compete at the highest levels. I think there are a couple different ways to do this. I guess you could split them up into different categories. Mandatory and Optional.

In the Mandatory category:
1.) "Head Hunting" has to go. A 15 yard penalty is a small price to pay for the cognitive well-being of another person. So I'm talking game suspensions, massive fines, even season suspensions if the player doesn't stop flagrant, hazardous hits that finish with head trauma.
2.) If a player does suffer a concussion, I think a minimum amount of time needs to be set before that athlete can compete again. Maybe 6 quarters minimum from the time of the incident? That number, at this point, is an arbitrary number. A specific number set would of course depend on neuropsychological and other neurological tests to make sure cognitive ability has returned to the player who suffered the concussion.
3.) Baseline neuropsychological tests need to be done every season to get a feel for the cognitive ability of each player. Also, it would be nice to have baseline MRIs. We have technology now that can detect cortical atrophy, ventricular swelling, etc., which is useful in detecting the presence of that mysterious Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

Under the Optional category, there is really only one:
1.) The player should have the option of gaining full disclosure on his current condition at his request. That may seem obvious, but it is much more difficult to give FULL disclosure unless steps are taken to understand where that individual player has been mentally, physically, and cognitively, and what his current mental, physical, and cognitive state is. From there, he can make the decision for himself if he wants to continue risking more injury or not.

So in the end, I think much more can be done to protect the players without compromising the athleticism that is required in the game of football. As research continues, my hope is that the evolution of the game continues also to provide an environment that allows for top of the line competition alongside top of the line player protection. And if the competition evolves with player protection in mind, I think it would give concerned parents more confidence to let their children participate in this great game.

01-24-2011, 08:47 PM
I think that we should be looking into making better helmets. I think that there will always be hard hits, and a risk of concussions. I think that there should also be more money put into protecting youth and high school kids. I think there are likely a lot of concussions that caused by programs buying cheap helmets.

01-24-2011, 09:03 PM
I did not play organized football. And my sons are not sports guys.

I would allow football. I think the new helmets are much better in the last 2 years. I would require one of the ultranew helmets for my son, like the Xenith (IIRC). I would require (and buy it myself) a recording accellerometer, as soon at helmet models are avail. I think I would be all over the research and require the latest safety gear as a condition of my permission.

I would probably worry more about knees than brain right now in HS or lower, even steven in College. I think in about 10 years the safety equipment will be MUCH better. We are in the middle of cracking open this problem and then can resolve it, both spinal trauma and brain bruising.

Many players, college and NFL like olders models of helmets. I would throw a fit if my son didn't use one of the new ones. I probably would select the model and demand it, or at least fight over it.

But a rice rocket is WAAY more dangerous than football, and probably one or two dads have OK'd that.

01-24-2011, 09:06 PM
Better helmets. Better mouthguards. Both good starting places.

But the most important thing is changing the culture. My 11-year-old son plays football. The culture change has begun in youth football. They are very conscientious about helmet-to-helmet hits. I cannot imagine my boy ever being told by a coach to 'tape an aspirin' to his head and get back in there.