Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Head Injuries

POSTED: Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 5:30 AM
Jon Darling, athletic trainer for North Fargo, N.D. Spartan High School, tapes senior Marlee Nasset's ankle prior to track practice, Friday, May 14, 2004. (AP Photo/Alyssa Hurst)

While watching our favorite sports teams, we are generally hoping for 2 things—a win for our team and no injuries.

Injuries have always been a part of sports and likely always will be. The difference between a championship season and missing the playoffs may be 1-2 injuries. Fortunately, professional and college teams almost always have an athletic trainer on site to care for that injury.

Athletic trainers (ATs) are nationally certified after passing a board exam and obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree in athletic training. They are state-licensed and work under the direction of a physician in most states. The services provided by ATs comprise prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.1 ATs are the first medical providers to respond to an on field emergency. They care for the individual player (often alone), until an ambulance arrives to transport the player to a hospital.

POSTED: Monday, March 17, 2014, 5:30 AM
Filed Under: Baseball | Head Injuries
Philadelphia Phillies Domonic Brown (9) is out at home plate on the throw after sliding into New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli in the third inning of a spring exhibition baseball game in Clearwater, Fla., Thursday, March 13, 2014. The play came on Darin Ruf's double to the left field corner. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The smell of the grass, the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd… baseball season is back. As spring training gets into full swing, a new Major League baseball rule takes effect. Though contact will still be allowed at home plate, baserunners will no longer be allowed to intentionally run into a catcher.

The rule is intended to protect players from injuries, especially head injuries. Concussions in sports have become a hot topic, now that there is overwhelming evidence suggesting long-term neurological damage from head trauma while playing sports.

As a neurologist and epilepsy specialist, I have seen hundreds of sports-related head injuries over my career. In the United States alone, 1-4 million people experience a sports-related head injury each year (Giza et al. 2013). Even though baseball is generally considered a “non-contact sport,” head injuries in baseball account for nearly 20 percent of all competitive sports-related head injuries (Beyer et al. 2012).

POSTED: Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 9:42 AM
Dr. Paul Butler voted to ban football in his New Hampshire school district, while Dr. Doug Swift won two Super Bowls before turning his attention to medicine. (Robert Senior /

On Tuesday night, three accomplished doctors from three very different backgrounds convened at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia to discuss the issue of head injuries in football.

The talk, entitled “Football: America’s Pride or America’s Shame?” featured Doug Swift, MD, who won two Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins of the 1970s before turning his attention to medicine as an anesthesiologist; H. Branch Coslett, MD, professor in neurology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; and Paul Butler, MD, a retired surgeon who gained fame—or notoriety, depending on your stance—by voting to end football in his local school district, where he served as a board member.

The title of the talk “America’s Pride or America’s Shame?” didn’t seem to leave much room for a middle ground, but in the end the highlight of the presentation was its non-judgmental approach to accepting that there is a large gray area in the entire discussion. Football players, coaches, doctors, even opponents of the sport were able to walk away saying they’d learned something, and hopefully with a greater understanding of the other side of the debate.

POSTED: Thursday, January 9, 2014, 5:30 AM
The Jefferson Comprehensive Concussion Center at the Navy Yard.

For all the attention concussions have received in recent years, even the leading experts will admit that the sports medicine community has only scratched the surface when it comes to learning—and teaching the public—about these dangerous injuries.

That’s why leaders at Rothman Institute, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Wills Eye Hospital have collaborated to create the Jefferson Comprehensive Concussion Center (JCCC), located in the heart of the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Robert Franks, D.O. of the Rothman Institute is the medical co-director of the center along with Mijail Serruya, M.D., Ph.D., a top neurologist at Jefferson. The Center hosted its first patient at the end of October.

POSTED: Tuesday, December 31, 2013, 5:30 AM

From serious matters like concussions and performance enhancing drugs, to inspiring stories of athletes overcoming the odds, we’ve enjoyed covering the sports and fitness scene in and around Philadelphia in 2013.

What do you hope to see on Sports Doc in 2014?

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.

POSTED: Friday, December 27, 2013, 5:00 AM

In light of last week’s report on the late Ryan Freel, I decided to outline some of the measures Major League Baseball is taking to address concussions in the sport.

MLB has taken a very serious, very focused stance on preventing concussions in baseball. MLB has taken numerous measures to investigate, diagnose, treat and hopefully prevent minor traumatic brain injuries/concussions.

Some of their many efforts over the past several years include:

POSTED: Tuesday, December 17, 2013, 5:30 AM
Kansas City Royals' Ryan Freel during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Tuesday, July 21, 2009, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

In the wake of the news that former major league player Ryan Freel was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) at the time of his suicide, Major League Baseball is joining—and being included—in the ongoing discourse over concussions in sports.  

Freel, who played for five teams during his nine-year career, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound almost one year ago. He was 36.

At last week’s MLB Winter Meetings, representatives of the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and Sports Legacy Institute issued their findings to Freel’s family, who revealed Sunday that the player indeed suffered from Stage II CTE, where victims can experience headaches, confusion, depression and short-term memory loss.

POSTED: Monday, September 9, 2013, 9:20 AM

With the recent nearly $800 million settlement, the NFL is conceding that head injuries occurred and led to serious long term problems. Despite this and all we hear in the media about the seriousness of concussion, the problem is still significantly under-reported. A recent study published this year showed that 4 out of 10 concussions suffered by high school athletes are never reported by the athlete.

When asked about the classic “bell ringer,” less than one out of seven are ever reported. With the recent push to educate players, coaches and parents about concussion, the way we treat concussion has changed to protect the athlete from further injury. This doesn’t help if the athlete is not reporting the injury to begin with.

It’s difficult to convince the ‘invincible’ teenager that a head injury can have serious long-term consequences. Studies show the most common reasons for not reporting a concussion were that the player believed it wasn’t serious enough, they didn’t want to let their teammates down or they didn’t want to be removed from play. What they don’t realize is that the consequences may be devastating. Symptoms such as concentration problems, headaches and depression can be permanent. In my practice at Drexel Sports Medicine, players often present after multiple concussions and many will never resolve their symptoms.

About this blog

Whether you are a weekend warrior, an aging baby boomer, a student athlete or just someone who wants to stay active, this blog is for you. Read about our growing list of expert contributors here.

Robert Senior Sports Doc blog Editor
Alfred Atanda, Jr., M.D. Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.
Robert Cabry, M.D. Drexel Sports Medicine, Team physician - U.S. Figure Skating, Assoc. Team Physician - Drexel
Brian Cammarota, MEd, ATC, CSCS, CES Symetrix Sports Performance, athletic trainer at OAA Orthopaedics
Desirea D. Caucci, PT, DPT, OCS Co-owner of Conshohocken Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Michael G. Ciccotti, M.D. Rothman Institute, Head Team Physician for the Phillies & St. Joe's
Julie Coté, PT, MPT, OCS, COMT Magee Rehabilitation Hospital
Peter F. DeLuca, M.D. Rothman Institute, Head Team Physician - Eagles, Head Orthopedic Surgeon - Flyers
Joel H. Fish, Ph.D. Director - The Center For Sport Psychology, Sports Psychology Consultant - 76ers & Flyers
R. Robert Franks, D.O. Rothman Institute, Team Physician - USA Wrestling, Consultant - Philadelphia Phillies
Ashley B. Greenblatt, ACE-CPT Certified Personal Trainer at The Sporting Club at The Bellevue
Cassie Haynes, JD, MPH Co-Founder, Trap Door Athletics, CrossFit LI Certified
Eugene Hong, MD, CAQSM, FAAFP Team Physician - Drexel, Philadelphia University, Saint Joe’s, & U.S. National Women’s Lacrosse
Jim McCrossin, ATC Flyers and Phantoms
Kevin Miller Fitness Coach, Philadelphia Union
Heather Moore, PT, DPT, CKTP Owner of Total Performance Physical Therapy, North Wales, Pa.
David Rubenstein, M.D. Main Line Health Lankenau Medical Center, Team Orthopedist - Philadelphia 76ers
Justin Shaginaw, MPT, ATC Aria 3B Orthopaedic Institute, Athletic Trainer - US Soccer Federation
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