Today’s health and safety news from the NFL – and more:
* The biggest injury news from the weekend’s NFL divisional playoffs was the broken arm suffered by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, according to the Boston Globe.
“It’s hard to replace a player like him, because he’s a freak of nature,” said tight end Aaron Hernandez, who caught six passes for 85 yards. “But everyone has to step up and everyone still has to keep making plays so we can keep going.” Gronkowski missed five games after initially breaking his forearm while blocking on an extra-point attempt against the Colts. He returned for the season finale against Miami and was used in a limited role, catching two passes, including one for a touchdown. But it was obvious that Gronkowski was still favoring the arm, and had a similar heavy white bandage from wrist to elbow for Sunday’s game.
* The other major injury suffered last weekend was to Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham, who badly sprained an ankle against the Seattle Seahawks, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. However, he vows to play this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
“Oh yeah, you know me, you can’t keep me out of that game,” Abraham said. “We’re going to treat the (heck) out of it.”
* The Topeka Capital-Journal reported on a Kansas University professor, Phillip Vardiman, who is working with the U.S. Olympic Committee to study injury patterns.
By viewing the instances of specific injuries among various kinds of competitors at the Pan Am Games and the treatment they received, Vardiman can put together models that would show the pre-emptive care and treatment needed by sport. He gathered data and anecdotal evidence from athletic trainers, emergency responders, chiropractors, orthopedists and other medical personnel who worked the games. “Are there different injury patterns in specific sports? Are there specific needs for future games? Were there specific injuries the athletes didn’t come back from? These are the kinds of questions we’re trying to answer,” he said. “Our mindset is always going to be preventive medicine and doing what we can to keep these athletes healthy and ready to compete.”
* The NBA’s Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers will miss his fifth consecutive game with a concussion, according to The Associated Press.
* The South Pittsburgh Reporter wrote about marathon runners who are getting advice from the UPMC Sports Medicine seminars to avoid injuries.
* And RichmondBizSense.com wrote about an engineer who is trying to invent a chinstrap that will do a better job of staying on the helmet.
He said he invested about $2,000 in parts and started working on the idea in his basement laboratory about two years ago. Bancroft went through about five NogginLOC prototypes before settling on a design late last year. Bancroft has plans to market the NogginLOC to manufacturers that supply football helmets players from high school to the NFL. He’s said he’s secured an endorsement from former Redskins linebacker Ken Harvey. “I’ve never played football a day in my life, but I saw a real need for something like this,” Bancroft said.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor