Articles Posted in Brain Injuries

Sixteen-year old Phoenix football player Ridge Barden died from a massive subdural hematoma, or in laymen’s terms, lots of blood on the brain. As the father of a 15-year old boy, the horror and grief of the Barden family is tangible to me. My deepest sympathies go out to his entire family, including his football family.

The damage was caused by helmet-to-helmet contact during a football game between Phoenix and Homer High School in Homer last Friday. The injury, and death, appears to have resulted from a single impact during the game.

This tragic death comes at a time when brain injuries and concussions suffered in youth sports, especially football, are under scrutiny. A lot of people are asking, “are we doing enough to protect our young athletes’ heads”? Evidence is emerging to suggest that the helmets players use may not be enough to protect them from serious injuries, despite what some helmet manufacturers want you to believe. (I blogged last January about false claims made by helmet manufacturers that their latest models have reduced the risk of concussions).

Concussions used to be a joke. You know, all those cartoons and slap stick movies with people getting knocked out, then waking up and shaking it off as if it were nothing. Ha, ha, ha! Well, it wasn’t nothing. It’s really something.

So what exactly is a concussion? It is a temporary loss of brain function caused by a blow to the head. That’s what we used to think was the end of it. But we now know that it can lead to many long-lasting physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms.

And we are finding out more and more about the hidden damage concussions can cause. Concussions are a kind of TBI (traumatic brain injury) that can lead to life-long disabilities. Take “Lou Gehrig’s disease” (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or “ALS”) for example. Yesterday’s New York Times reported that Lou Gehrig might not have actually had the disease named after him. Rather, he might have had what doctors now understand to be a TBI which manifests itself through symptoms mimicking ALS. The Times reports that those afflicted with the disease probably were predisposed to it by genetic factors, but concussions serve as the catalyst.

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