* Yahoo!Sports’ Canadian Football blog recapped the year in the CFL and how concussions played a large role in the season.
The 2012 season may have featured more prominent concussion news than any CFL campaign to date, though. In September, researchers at Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (I spoke to co-director Dr. Robert Cantu earlier this month) announced that they’d found CTE in McIver’s brain, which made him by far the most recent CFL player to have been officially diagnosed with CTE and reinforced that concussions are not just a relic of football’s early days. Later that month, we saw Calgary quarterback Kevin Glenn start a game despite complaints of a hit-generated headache that seemed awfully close to concussion symptoms (but was emphatically termed to not be a concussion by the Stampeders), which raised questions about just how effective the league’s concussion protocols are. October intensified those questions, as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers initially planned to start quarterback Buck Pierce soon after he received a diagnosed concussion (and did put him back into a game after the hit that caused that concussion, but before he was officially diagnosed with it). The Bombers eventually did the smart thing and backed down thanks to Pierce’s ongoing struggles, but they didn’t exactly raise observers’ confidence that CFL teams are managing concussions properly.
* The same Yahoo CFL blog interviewed Dr. Robert Cantu about where concussions research stands and what should we expect in 2013.
Some notable recent research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) suggests that it’s not just diagnosed concussions that are problematic. Cantu said fMRI research has shown cognitive declines even in football players who haven’t suffered a concussion over a season, much of which is likely from subconcussive trauma.
“Over the course of a football season, there’s significant deterioration in a number of players,” Cantu said. “It certainly suggests individuals should be tested over the course of a season.”
* Buzz Bissinger wrote in The Daily Beast that he didn’t like the route the NFL is taking, criticizing the league for creating a safer culture.
* The Wall Street Journal’s Classroom page looked at the issue of teen athletes and concussions.
* The Sharon (Pa.) Herald reported that ACL tears are on the increase for female athletes.
* NBCNews reported on a victim of the “second-impact syndrome” which affects some concussion victims.
Lehe is one of the latest victims of a rare injury known as “second-impact syndrome,” or SIS, which can occur when an athlete suffers a jolt to the head too soon after an earlier concussion. Experts say that if the brain doesn’t have enough time to recover from the initial concussion, a second one can have a devastating, often fatal, effect – even when the second jolt is no more than a light bump.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor