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The Concussion Thread

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I know this isn't about the Zips, but it is about football and I worry about what the future may hold for some of our fellow Zips in terms of long term health problems.

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I know this isn't about the Zips, but it is about football and I worry about what the future may hold for some of our fellow Zips in terms of long term health problems.

That’s a very interesting article, GP1. Thanks for posting.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit lately. The issue of player safety will continue to become more visible. Various TV shows have taken up the topic. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there’s a small part of me that feels a little uneasy from an ethical standpoint considering I spend so much time and effort supporting a sport that leaves many damaged beyond repair.

Here are a few thoughts as I read this:

1. His main notion is that football at the ground level could be destroyed by medical insurers backing out to protect their bottom lines. Maybe this is farfetched, but I wonder if youth/HS/college football could still survive in this scenario by simply requiring medical waivers to be signed by all players absolving the league/team/school financial liability due to injury. Is the love of football so ingrained in the American psyche that players and their families would be willing to sign such a waiver?

2. He discusses the immense economic blow it would have on the “small town” college football centers, like Clemson etc. Who’s to say, in this “post-football world”, that another sport or form of entertainment might not take the place of these local economic engines? And for those thinking about soccer (and I am a big fan), this sport has its own issues with regard to concussions and injuries in general. I don’t know what that replacement activity would be. But without football, all of a sudden the sports and entertainment landscape becomes wide open and totally unpredictable.

3. He points to the use of HGH as one of the culprits in the rise of injuries and that’s hard to dismiss. But I think equipment design and manufacture are at least as responsible. I’m convinced there can be more safety designed into equipment, especially if energy absorption characteristics are given higher priority. This will likely result in more expensive equipment, but I think most would agree at this point that this is a worthwhile tradeoff.

This is definitely something to monitor from now on.

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3. He points to the use of HGH as one of the culprits in the rise of injuries and that’s hard to dismiss. But I think equipment design and manufacture are at least as responsible. I’m convinced there can be more safety designed into equipment, especially if energy absorption characteristics are given higher priority. This will likely result in more expensive equipment, but I think most would agree at this point that this is a worthwhile tradeoff.

Concussions happen when the brain bashes against the skull. We are not made for sudden stops. They can design all the energy absorbing equipment, nothing can stop the brain from bashing against the skull when a hit is made.

It all goes back to hgh. Force = Mass x Acceleration. The players today are too big from taking hgh and the human body cannot take the force. Look at James Harrison. When he came back from injury, his face was so red, he could have guided Santa at Christmas. The red was from all the hgh he takes. He is only one example of many in the NFL. My brother overheard the Falcons strenght and conditioning coach yelling at some linemen one day, "I don't know what you are taking, but you had better get off of it before your head explodes." Everyone knows it is going on and nobody wants to do anything about it. Back to force.... Specifically, the head can't take the force. Some may laugh when I say this, but the NFL needs to go through a five year period where they bring down the maximum weight of the players through weight limits like they do in little league. Make the NFL a sport again instead of a freakshow.

I hate to say this because it may come true, but I don't think it is unreasonable to believe that an NFL player, or even a high level college football player, could get killed on the field of play in the next five years. If not killed, one of the linemen die from a heart attack during a game. If that happens, parents will really think twice about letting their kids play.

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The late Joe Paterno thought football should return to leather helmets. He just might have had a point.

He had a point alright... A stupid point.

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Several kids on my sons 7th grade team suffered concussions last season. I saw a story on the news the other night about a company that is developing a device that would alert the coach if a player took a hit that could cause a concussion. It was a small device that attached to the helmet and a red flashing light would go off if the hit was severe. That would alert the coach who could have the player examined before being allowed back into the game.

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Several kids on my sons 7th grade team suffered concussions last season.

Maybe we are letting kids play football at too young of an age and they can't grasp the fundamentals of the game to the point where they can play it in a safe manner. There are a lot of bad jr high coaches who can't teach the proper way to play the game as well.

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Here's a counter-inuitive thought. Could the advanced padding/helmets that players now wear actually be the cause of the problem?

I'll explain my thought. When players wore less sophisticated padding (ala, JoePa's leather helmets, whatever) I highly doubt players were engaging in the collisions they are nowadays. They just couldn't. They'd kill themselves and they probably knew it. At the very least they were probably hitting more with their shoulders than with the crowns of their heads.

Take rugby as the prime example. Everyone thinks rugby players must be so outrageously tough because they don't wear any padding. But what people don't realize is that there actually aren't that many severe injuries in rugby precisely because the players don't engage in collisions like they do in American football. They just can't - they'd kill themselves. Today's football players, contrarily, feel invincible with the advanced helmets that they wear. But, invincible they are not.

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Concussions happen when the brain bashes against the skull. We are not made for sudden stops. They can design all the energy absorbing equipment, nothing can stop the brain from bashing against the skull when a hit is made.

That’s the whole point of energy absorbing devices. They make the stop “less sudden” by reducing the decelerations. I’ll agree the increased size of the players (their increased speed can’t be ignored either, since potential energy is related to speed squared…..although of course speeds haven’t increased nearly as much as size) inherently increases the magnitude of these decelerations.

Speaking more on the effect speed has on the decelerations felt by the brain, this is exactly why some coaches propose doing away with kickoffs.

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I'll explain my thought. When players wore less sophisticated padding (ala, JoePa's leather helmets, whatever) I highly doubt players were engaging in the collisions they are nowadays. They just couldn't. They'd kill themselves and they probably knew it. At the very least they were probably hitting more with their shoulders than with the crowns of their heads.

How come old photos of the NFL show guys aged well beyond their years and their faces are crooked?

The rugby analogy is good because I think it is a great sport; however, rugby players pitch the ball a lot and head on hits are rare. They don't pass the ball downfield so there isn't anyone to get hit going over the middle.

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(their increased speed can’t be ignored either, since potential energy is related to speed squared…..although of course speeds haven’t increased nearly as much as size)

Like I've been saying on this board for years now. Regardless of what our wives and girlfriends tell us, size matters.

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Like I've been saying on this board for years now. Regardless of what our wives and girlfriends tell us, size matters.

:lol: I think I get an assist for this :lol:

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Maybe we are letting kids play football at too young of an age and they can't grasp the fundamentals of the game to the point where they can play it in a safe manner. There are a lot of bad jr high coaches who can't teach the proper way to play the game as well.

If anything, it's the opposite of bad coaching. A lack of fundamentals was not what caused the concussions. Back in the day, when you and I were that age, the coaches would have just told the kid to suck it up and get back into the game. Our coaching staff was trained to recognize the symptoms and took the actions to make sure the kids got proper treatment. And just so you know, the bigger, faster, size matters thing applies in the 7th grade too.

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And just so you know, the bigger, faster, size matters thing applies in the 7th grade too.

Don't you think that is a little young for kids to be having sex?

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Here's a counter-inuitive thought. Could the advanced padding/helmets that players now wear actually be the cause of the problem?

I'll explain my thought. When players wore less sophisticated padding (ala, JoePa's leather helmets, whatever) I highly doubt players were engaging in the collisions they are nowadays. They just couldn't. They'd kill themselves and they probably knew it. At the very least they were probably hitting more with their shoulders than with the crowns of their heads.

Concussions really aren't an equipment issue, imo.

I believe what we're witnessing now is simply the culmination of players at every level being bigger, stronger and faster than ever before, meaning the kinetic forces at play in the game have multiplied several times over. At the same time, the sensitivity of the human brain has remained constant. So in other words, while being bigger, faster and stronger offers no enhanced protection from concussions, it virtually guarantees that concussions will happen more and more frequently.

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That’s a very interesting article, GP1. Thanks for posting.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit lately. The issue of player safety will continue to become more visible. Various TV shows have taken up the topic. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there’s a small part of me that feels a little uneasy from an ethical standpoint considering I spend so much time and effort supporting a sport that leaves many damaged beyond repair.

Here are a few thoughts as I read this:

1. His main notion is that football at the ground level could be destroyed by medical insurers backing out to protect their bottom lines. Maybe this is farfetched, but I wonder if youth/HS/college football could still survive in this scenario by simply requiring medical waivers to be signed by all players absolving the league/team/school financial liability due to injury. Is the love of football so ingrained in the American psyche that players and their families would be willing to sign such a waiver?

2. He discusses the immense economic blow it would have on the “small town” college football centers, like Clemson etc. Who’s to say, in this “post-football world”, that another sport or form of entertainment might not take the place of these local economic engines? And for those thinking about soccer (and I am a big fan), this sport has its own issues with regard to concussions and injuries in general. I don’t know what that replacement activity would be. But without football, all of a sudden the sports and entertainment landscape becomes wide open and totally unpredictable.

3. He points to the use of HGH as one of the culprits in the rise of injuries and that’s hard to dismiss. But I think equipment design and manufacture are at least as responsible. I’m convinced there can be more safety designed into equipment, especially if energy absorption characteristics are given higher priority. This will likely result in more expensive equipment, but I think most would agree at this point that this is a worthwhile tradeoff.

This is definitely something to monitor from now on.

It would be interesting to see if Ray Lewis would still be interested in delivering punishing blows if the equipment he wore allowed him to take more punishment himself. These fools delivering blows with their multi-layer shoulder pads and spearing with their helmets might not be quite as brave if their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were thinner and less protective. The concussions that are a result of the constant head slapping and mashing on the lines will be very hard to minimize, but I bet we could certainly lessen the "human missile" injuries by just making these gigantic steroid monsters wear less equipment. I don't recall seeing the head-low missile strikes from secondary guys in old NFL film, probably because those guys were engaged in at least some level of self preservation. "Hey Ray, I just removed your face mask. Get out there and good luck with that big fella."

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It would be interesting to see if Ray Lewis would still be interested in delivering punishing blows if the equipment he wore allowed him to take more punishment himself. These fools delivering blows with their multi-layer shoulder pads and spearing with their helmets might not be quite as brave if their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were thinner and less protective. The concussions that are a result of the constant head slapping and mashing on the lines will be very hard to minimize, but I bet we could certainly lessen the "human missile" injuries by just making these gigantic steroid monsters wear less equipment. I don't recall seeing the head-low missile strikes from secondary guys in old NFL film, probably because those guys were engaged in at least some level of self preservation. "Hey Ray, I just removed your face mask. Get out there and good luck with that big fella."

Those were basically my thoughts a few posts back. I think the high tech gear, quite counter-intuitively, may actually increase the liklihood of serious injury.

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These fools delivering blows with their multi-layer shoulder pads and spearing with their helmets might not be quite as brave if their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were thinner and less protective.

Want to really hurt the player. Fine the crap out of them when they take cheap shots. Also, don't allow running backs to run with their heads down. That should be a fine as well.

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The late Joe Paterno thought football should return to leather helmets. He just might have had a point.

I was watching a program on TV last week. Can't remember where the research was going on but it was about this issue exactly! The researchers were studying concussive injuries. They compared current helmets with the old leather. I actually wore a leather constructed helmet when I played 8th grade football in the early 60's. We had plastic but they gave the old leathers to kids they didn't think were very good. Guess we were expendable. Anyway,the research seemed to be pointing toward indicating that the leather helmets might be better at preventing concussions than the rigid,hard plastic that is used now. They didn't say anything about other types of injuries.

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I was watching a program on TV last week. Can't remember where the research was going on but it was about this issue exactly! The researchers were studying concussive injuries. They compared current helmets with the old leather. I actually wore a leather constructed helmet when I played 8th grade football in the early 60's. We had plastic but they gave the old leathers to kids they didn't think were very good. Guess we were expendable. Anyway,the research seemed to be pointing toward indicating that the leather helmets might be better at preventing concussions than the rigid,hard plastic that is used now. They didn't say anything about other types of injuries.

This is interesting. I'd be curious as to whether they'd attribute their findings to leather's shock-absorption qualities, or, as would be my guess, to the seemigly obvious but probably overlooked probability, that while wearing leather helmets, players would simply be far less prone to lead with their heads on tackles?

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This has nothing to do with leather helmets or modern helmets. It has everything to do with the size of players and the force they apply when they hit each other. As the players get bigger and faster, the damage to the players gets greater.

The brain floats in a pool of water. There isn't enough water between the brain and the skull to protect the brain from hits. This is why we get concussions when we are in a car wreck and our head doesn't hit anything because of the seatbelt. A concussion is a bruise to the brain. The bruise is caused when the brain hits the skull. The worse the concussion, the bigger the bruise. Players have to get smaller before someone is killed.

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Remember that a football helmet is not just a hard shell. There's a soft, compressible inner liner that absorbs impact by dissipating energy. The hard shell of the helmet stops instantaneously when it contacts another hard object. The head continues to move forward at a slower rate as the liner material compresses. When the liner material reaches full compression, the skull stops moving but the brain doesn't. The brain doesn't stop moving until it contacts the inside of the skull. That's where the concussion is sustained.

The compressible materials used inside modern helmets is scientifically designed to dissipate energy. It's better at that than leather. Otherwise, they'd simply use leather inner liners inside the hard shells.

As mass and velocity go up, kinetic energy increases exponentially. Bigger, faster football players generate greater energy to be dissipated on impact, leading to greater likelihood of injury. Looking at it scientifically, it would be fairly straightforward to calculate the energy generated from the impact of two football players by measuring their weights and top running speeds. This would in turn provide data that could help calculate the energy dissipation required in a helmet to mitigate forces of the brain impacting the inside of the skull to the point of eliminating concussion.

I don't have a football helmet in front of me, but I'd guess there's not more than about an inch-thick layer of liner. Knowing the energy generated from the impact test above and the impact dissipation rate of the best helmet liner material would tell you how many inches of helmet liner would be required to dissipate enough energy to prevent concussion in the worst case impact.

The question is, what would we do if the testing showed that 6-12 inches of padding would be required to totally eliminate concussions. Would we be prepared to accept the visual oddity of BIG helmet football to protect football players from multiple concussions that ultimately result in irreversible brain damage? Or would we say, big helmets are for sissies?

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This has nothing to do with leather helmets or modern helmets. It has everything to do with the size of players and the force they apply when they hit each other. As the players get bigger and faster, the damage to the players gets greater.

The brain floats in a pool of water. There isn't enough water between the brain and the skull to protect the brain from hits. This is why we get concussions when we are in a car wreck and our head doesn't hit anything because of the seatbelt. A concussion is a bruise to the brain. The bruise is caused when the brain hits the skull. The worse the concussion, the bigger the bruise. Players have to get smaller before someone is killed.

Actually these guys were testing the helmets. They were dropping/swining an object so that it struck the helmets while they were stationary. Then somehow they measured the forces inside the helmets. These guys wern't advocating going to leather,they were saying that this particular type of testing suggetsed that the design of the modern helmet might need rethinking.

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This has nothing to do with leather helmets or modern helmets. It has everything to do with the size of players and the force they apply when they hit each other. As the players get bigger and faster, the damage to the players gets greater.

The brain floats in a pool of water. There isn't enough water between the brain and the skull to protect the brain from hits. This is why we get concussions when we are in a car wreck and our head doesn't hit anything because of the seatbelt. A concussion is a bruise to the brain. The bruise is caused when the brain hits the skull. The worse the concussion, the bigger the bruise. Players have to get smaller before someone is killed.

Why then don't colleges and the NFL start looking at maximum weights for players?

Say, how many concussions do professional rugby players suffer and how big are the players today? I ask because professional rugby players absolutely do not hit the same as football players do, and I believe that it's obviously because they aren't layered up with "cladding" the way football players are. Self preservation dictates that they wrap up more and they deliver more glancing blows. You also never see rugby players leading with the head blindly. The problem with American football is one of too-large steroid freaks who are protected from many injuries they would otherwise incur when they spear other players with their heads and shoulder pads. The game has gotten to the point of actually requiring smaller players wearing much less equipment. Guys like Ray Lewis would be out of the game immediately without the multiple ridiculous layers of gear. The more I think about this issue and the more I see players layered in about 100 layers of under armor and Nike plastic crap, the less respect I have for our American game. It's become a freak show.

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