Tuesday, September 17, 2013



It is always sad to lose someone, especially someone so young.  Add the element of the unnecessary, illegal helmet to helmet hit and its avoidability and the tragedy reaches a new level.

So many remain unaware of the very real dangers of concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBIs).  We are coming to the end of National Hydrocephalus Awareness Month and I couldn't find one word from the sports reporters about it or the avoidability of acquiring hydrocephalus through contact sports, like football.  In the coming weeks we will hear about the promising life of Damon Janes, but little or nothing about how avoidable this was.  Helmets are, honestly, a false sense of safety.

More than what goes on inside the helmet is what goes on with the brain inside the skull, which is rough and jagged, not smooth or soft.  In small children it used to be known as Shaken Baby Syndrome.  In teens & adults it is simply a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and that is as far as most reporters take it, falsely believing that the audience "wouldn't understand" if it was explained.  A bruise to the brain or a brain bleed can/does lead to increased pressure on the brain, which can be caused by altering the flow of the fluid that bathes the brain & spine.  You don't "walk off" the effects of a hit to the head, period.  The person who received the blow may not know that they are danger.  The potential patient can think they are fine, especially if they don't have any reference point to go by.  Just looking at them isn't going to tell you what you need to know.

A couple of years ago I spoke with a police representative locally who was amazed that someone could have a brain bleed, or bruise, think they were fine, go to bed and never wake up.  That is the reality of a TBI, especially a closed head injury.

Not just coaches, but parents and players need to be more aware of the potential dangers in having their kids playing contact sports.  I'm not saying never play, just to be very aware of the downsides, as well as the positives.  Rules about what hits are legal and not also needs to be taken more seriously.  It isn't about chickening out or not being a member of the team, it is about long term care and a life away from the field.

Shunts have come a long way, but they are a treatment, not a cure.  The only cure is prevention.  In this case, making sure that hits like the one Mr. Janes took, are appreciated for what they are--dangerous & potentially deadly.

Looking forward to Saturday's meeting.  We will be meeting in the Casey Conference Room at Swedish Hospital's Cherry Hill Campus (17th & Jefferson, Seattle) from 12:45 pm to 3:00 pm.  Drop ins & kids are welcome, as well as anyone wanting information about hydrocephalus.

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