January 26th, 2012
09:18 AM ET

Gupta on where 'Big Hits, Broken Dreams' began

Watch "Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports: Big Hits, Broken Dreams" Sunday, January 29 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET.

One day late in the summer of 2010, I was sitting in my backyard with my oldest daughter. We had just finished cutting the lawn when my neighbor and his oldest son stopped by.

His son, a football player at one of the powerhouse local high schools, had grown nearly an inch over the summer and weighed more than 200 pounds. He was already in practice for the upcoming season. He asked if I had time to speak to a friend of his who also played football and had suffered a concussion the previous season.

They were asking me in my capacity as a neurosurgeon, but also in desperation, as this young man was still having tremendous difficulty nearly a year after his injury.

Most of the patients I see in the hospital visit me at the time of their injury, and I hardly ever get to see the longer term impact of a severe concussion on an otherwise healthy young person. What he shared with me was stunning, and also formed the basis of the year long project, "Big Hits, Broken Dreams."

This young, physically robust, handsome man couldn’t remember the details of the hit in a mid-season practice that led to his concussion, but he was able to describe in awful detail how much his life had changed since. Once a nearly 4.0 student, his grades had dropped to “mainly Cs,” he told me. His memory was affected, and even during our discussion I could tell that his ability to retrieve words spontaneously had been impacted.

“The headaches are the worst,” he said, and no one had been able to help him.

Doctors had recommended everything from hyperbaric therapy to cervical spine surgery, as well as a laundry list of medications. In short, there were no good answers or solutions.

“Tincture of time,” was the common refrain he heard, and with post concussive syndrome or PCS – most times that is all medicine can legitimately offer. Near the end of our conversation, the dad in me came out as I asked him: “Do you have any regrets about playing football?”

He didn’t hesitate. “Not at all,” he quickly answered.

If baseball is our national pastime, then football is our national passion. And, I love football as much as anyone. Over the last year, however, I have learned there are ways to play football more safely, and still have football be... football. There are ways to play football more safely, and still win.

Whether it is the mandatory presence of athletic trainers who can diagnose concussions and are empowered to sit a player out, or it is fewer practices with full gear and repeated drills involving hits to the head - there are so many simple things that can be done to preserve the game, and the men who play it.

The young man in my backyard was just a teenager, but based on national statistics had been averaging 650 hits to his head every season he had been playing football.

Fortunately, none of them led to the most catastrophic outcome of death, usually due to second impact syndrome - a second concussion before the brain had healed from the first. Unfortunately, however, he was neurologically impacted, and there was no end of his misery in sight.

I offered as much advice as I could, but also promised to tell the story of players like him, and the latest science to try to reduce these tragic situations. If you are a player, a parent or a participant in the fanfare of football, I hope you get a chance to see "Big Hits, Broken Dreams."

soundoff (1,953 Responses)
  1. Amy

    I wonder if this young man in the story was checked for a CSF leak???

    January 26, 2012 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. dieter

    Dr. Gupta: your video, EXPLAIN IT TO ME; CONCUSSIONS, says it all: "you have to be absolutely symptom-free" and the "brain has to be completely healed". We issued a press release yesterday that points to how doctors can speed up the healing process. Our scientists are available to make a contribution to your story.

    January 26, 2012 at 10:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Amy

    Dr. Sampson and Linda Gray-Leithe at Duke could be valuable assets for the young man referenced in the story. I was in a MVA and had basically the same symptoms and after a long journey found out that I had multiple CSF leaks. My brain didn't have enough fluid to keep it bouyant and it caused so many of the same issues. I just wonder if this is something that had been explored.

    January 26, 2012 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. tacc2

    Tell me again why it's a good idea to let kids with still developing brains play heavy contact sports? Idiots.

    January 26, 2012 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Natalie O'Hayre


      January 30, 2012 at 06:33 | Report abuse |
  5. beautyjoy

    Best written article by the most respected doctor.

    January 26, 2012 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. jeff

    Bunch of people chasing a ball. I call it fool ball. What a joke.

    January 26, 2012 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jerry

    What price glory?

    January 26, 2012 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mike

    I had a concussion and was unconscious for 1 hour. Upon awakening, iwas asked the day, the president, and the year, I was okayed and sent home. No phone call. This was 1952. The memories started coming back in 1987. I now know what was the cause of siezures,sleep apnea, and teeth grinding. Have any of these problems been looked in to?

    January 26, 2012 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Mike

    Humans have a long tradition of destroying it's best youth in combat.
    The fact we still love it so is proof of how thin the veneer of civilization really is.

    January 26, 2012 at 19:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Worldwalker

      "It is entirely seemly for a young man killed in battle to lie mangled by the bronze spear. In his death all things appear fair." - Homer, "The Illiad"

      January 30, 2012 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
  10. richard cobey

    the need for the Certified Athletic Trainer to be present at both practice and games is impreative for the protection of players from coaches and more importantly from themselves. The ATC is the best qualified, most highly trained provider of health care to athletes in the world and colleges and universities with a registered Athletic Training Education Program put out the best qualified graduates in the world. Having been a Certified Athletic Trainer for the past 24 years and spent the last 10 in asia I have seen medical staff's from around the world and no one comes close to the NATA or the Canadian Athletic Therapist. Parent s push your school districts to hire an ATC, and for Dr. Gupta a well done article on a critical issue.

    January 26, 2012 at 21:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jaime

      Richard, so true. I see so many doctors – of all kinds – clear student-athletes because they are not well-trained in the nature of concussion evaluation and management. Athletic trainers are highly trained in this arena and are crucial to the battle in fighting this ongoing issue. Many of the NFL players we see today struggling with these major issues related to repeated concussions, are struggling because they never recieved care in middle school and high school and their brains were damaged then, as they were developing. Having some random physician on a sideline on a Thursday or Friday night is not an adequate anwser for protecting kids who sustain concussions; neither is sending someone to a specialist days after. It is essential that someone be there all the time with the kids – practices and games, knowing behavior patterns and deviations in this is one of the easiest ways to begin the search for a bigger neurological issue with a student-athlete. Colleges have mandated athletic training coverage of football games for years, and it is so confusing to me why ALL states don't require certified athletic trainers to be in EVERY high school. Until we recognize the importance of an athlete being healthy in the long run over playing in a game, our society is doomed to continue this pattern.

      January 27, 2012 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
  11. Nadine

    Actually, the best qualified, most highly trained provider of healthcare to athletes would be a fellowship trained Primary Care Sports Medicine doctor. Not Ortho Surgeons and not Neuro Surgeons…. a doctor who is trained to see non surgical injuries, which is typically comprised of 80% athletes.

    At the VERY least, schools should require athletes that sustain concussions to be medically cleared by a doctor who has the necessary training and experience to treat them.

    January 27, 2012 at 00:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Phlo

      Neuropsychologists...the person who measures the impact of concussion on the functioning of the brain. Kids will tell you they feel better just to have a chance to get back in the game. The only way to tell they ARE better is neuropsychological evaluation done by a neuropsychologist trained to understand what the tests mean, in conjunction with a trained sports medicine physician (not Athletic trainer) who understands the physiology of injury. see http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/clinician.html

      January 27, 2012 at 21:13 | Report abuse |
    • KurtPfaff

      Phlo, A certified Athletic Trainer is an educated Allied health profesional that doeas understand the physiology of a mild tramatic Brain injury. Also, the Certified Athletic Trainer is the first link in the sports medicine team, the first to see the injured athlete on the field and the one that has daily contact with the student athletes. A Certified Athletic Trainer does not practice alone, they must work under the supervision of a physician. My daughter is a soccer player and if she is ever injured I will trust a NATA board certified and state licensed Certified Athletic Trainer over a coach who has taken a one day Red Cross first aid class.

      January 29, 2012 at 22:44 | Report abuse |
  12. Ray Tucker

    We have many soldiers returning from war with brain injury. We don't have the facilities or resources dedicated to treat these soldiers. We must make this a priority. I worked at a inpatient MHMR facility with a capacity of 450 patients, it currently serves only 119. The bed space, doctors, nurses and direct care staff are available to convert the extra capacity to a brain injury center. I would like to see families treated together. Our brain connects us to the world and brain injury affects whole families. We see our emotional self in the reflected emotions of others, if those reflections are distorted we will become mentally ill. Acting like things are normal when they aren't may make the condition worse.

    January 27, 2012 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. c s

    "“Not at all,” . This says it all. This young man will probably be mentally deminished for the rest of his life. And yet he would not have given up his dreams of a few years football glory for a lifetime of accomplishment. What idiocy!!! This young man was sacrificed upon the altar of false glory. Sports can be wonderful BUT it must be done with the mentality of saftey about everything else. I do not know how football can ever be made safe when the major part of it is crashing bodies into each other. Over a hundred years, football was causing so many deaths in college that President Theodore Roosevelt intervened and forced football to change its rules and probably saved it from being banned. Too bad, maybe he should have led the charge to ban it.

    January 27, 2012 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. meis

    When this captain decided to take the ship off course, isn't there another person on the bridge who would have said 'this is not a good idea'? my friend's mother made $263164 so far just working on the laptop for a few hours. Didn't the company who owned this ship realize the thing was off course? Or does the captain have the authority to do whatever the heck he chooses? read more here Makecash7. cömONLY

    January 27, 2012 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Linda Mirch

    Katie is going to be in this one hour special on sports and injuries. Sunday night at 5:00 pacific time CNN.
    Thought you'd want to see it!

    January 27, 2012 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Wolfe

    I think in the future we will be able to develop better helmets to stop concisions. That will be in a few years at least.

    January 27, 2012 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • highnoon

      Your brain inside theskull is like yolk in an egg. Concussions happen when the head is being forced quickly in a mostly opposite direction from whatever forward motion you are doing or the skull is being struck by an object. In case of motion the skull might follow the motion intact, however since the head is not solid, i.e. the brain is floating in fluid, it moves more or less independently and will more than likely continue in whatever direction it was travelling in, slamming into the side of the skull, causing pressure damage and possible lesions. There is no way a helmet can be created that will prevent that. The helmet protect the outside of the head, not the inside, and it will likely never be able to negate any movement of the head. The only kind of damage that maybe can be minimized is static hits. where something is hitting the helmet and the player is not in motion. But when have you ever seen a game where a player is never in motion when somebody is tackling him. The only way to stop this is by changing the rules and make penalties worse. Right now it is a free for all, and linemen are allowed and encouraged to get the player down no matter, maybe even put a weight limitation on players. The size of todays players are getting out of proportions.

      January 30, 2012 at 14:15 | Report abuse |
  17. Ken

    Dr. Gupta: Do you really believe that prior concussions contribute to epidural hematoma and death (so called "second impact syndrome")? Can you cite some studies?

    January 27, 2012 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Caitlin

    I think dr. Gupta has a point about football concussions but i think in the future they will make helmets to stop head injuries but for now we do need to do something about this

    January 27, 2012 at 17:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Patrick

      There is no way a helmet can ever be designed to 'prevent' concussions from contact injuries. Regardless of the absorbtive qualities of the lining, the 'injury' is caused by the motion of the head being stopped so abruptly that the brain collides with the skull. The only real solution is changing the whole mindset and training of the game which idealizes and celebrates 'hard hits' to one that is centered on stopping your opponent in such a way that NEITHER of you are likely to get injured. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for football-crazed Americans to embrace that necessity – even though it is crippling and mentally damaging their children at a horrendous pace.

      January 30, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
  19. Caitlin

    I think dr. Gupta has a point about football concussions i also think we need to do something about it

    January 27, 2012 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. stephen

    Dr. Gupta–please please address the hypocrisy in sports regarding head concussions. Football commentators express concern over head injuries, and the commercials that follow tout the next big boxing match. The object of boxing, as I understand it, is to cause brain injury (knockout) and the injured have 10 seconds to stand up sustain a second concussion. It's all about the $$... and so were gladiator games circa 100 C.E.... I know, gives the poor and disadvantaged a chance to risk their life for wealth and fame. Will future generations look back at our hypocrisy the way we look at Roman gladiator games.. I think so...

    January 27, 2012 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. stephen

    Dr. Gupta–please please address the hypocrisy in sports regarding head concussions. Football commentators express concern over head injuries, and the commercials that follow tout the next big boxing match. The object of boxing, as I understand it, is to cause brain injury (knockout) and the injured have 10 seconds to stand up sustain a second concussion. It's all about the $$... and so were gladiator games circa 100 C.E.... I know, gives the poor and disadvantaged a chance to risk their life for wealth and fame.

    January 27, 2012 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. stephen

    Dr. Gupta–please please address the hypocrisy in sports regarding head concussions. Football commentators express concern over head injuries, and the commercials that follow tout the next big boxing match. The object of boxing, as I understand it, is to cause brain injury (knockout) and the injured have 10 seconds to stand up sustain a second concussion. It's all about the $$...

    January 27, 2012 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Richard S. Snow

    I never played sports, but I sustained a head injury in 1981 aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower that changed the rest of my life. I spent 6 months in a Navy psychiatric ward, then another year waiting on the decision of how to discharge me. I was left with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and very limited employment opportunities, even though I finished a 4 year degree in computer science and another 2 year degree in network technology. In 1998, after completing the second degree, the veterans affairs department certified me as unemployable, finally giiving me the full amount of money payable to a disabled vet.
    In 2004, they raised my rating to 100 percent disabled.

    January 27, 2012 at 20:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Robin

    School girls' soccer team has seven girls out with concussions today. Seven. Two tried to hide concussions (unsuccessfully) because they need the PE credits to graduate (no credit if you don't play the whole season). Two of these girls are on their third soccer concussion, one is on her second, and I'm not sure about the others.These brain injuries are changing mental status for MONTHS for these kids. They can't read, they can't focus, they can't remember. School not equipped to modify anything for brain injured students.

    Refs disallowed headgear in the games and ref manual says it is ref choice.

    January 27, 2012 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Concussed X10

      i beg of you to do what you can to protect your players. Don't let them end up like me. I was a college soccer player, once upon a time. My last concussion, also my 10th forced me to retire, and prevented me from possibly playing professionally.
      A concussion can be life or death. The life I once dreamed of having has faded because of the effects I deal with on a daily basis. Do I lead a successful life? Yes, I do. But what I wouldn't give to not wake up with headache or develop one throughout the day. Concussions are not fun, and are a serious injury. You can get a hip replacement, or a knee replacement...but you only get one brain.

      January 28, 2012 at 00:36 | Report abuse |
    • Dorothy

      Robin please scroll down and read my post. My daughter played Div 1 and high school soccer. She got a concussion and overnight her life changed. She said it was like a fog of depression. On her Div! club team – at one time 40% of the team had concussion symptoms. you think it can never happen to my child and then it does. What is the hardest part is neurologist diagnose it and then they just try a bunch of drugs hoping to make you better. I sent my daughter's neurologist all of the findings on pituitary gland damage (her neurologist was trained at Mayo and is at Tx Children's Hospital) and when we went for a check up. She still had not read about the pituitary gland! I know neurologist want to help the patients but they need to look at why are these brains not healing in addition to trying to relieve the symptoms.

      January 29, 2012 at 16:35 | Report abuse |
    • concerned

      My daughter suffered a consussion on the lacrosse field during a game and was allowed to continue in the game...never even taken to the sideline for a basic evaluation. I can't begin to describe what we have been through since. Although I applaud Dr. Gupta to giving a national stage to this very real problem, I feel like the problem is much worse in sports that are not considered typical contact sports (soccer, girls lacrosse, field hockey, etc.) where helmets are not required, yet aggresive play leads to concussive injuries. Football players may take more hits on average, but they have protective equipment on...when a soccer or girls lacrosse player takes a hit, the impact is much worse. Honestly, this show just exposed the tip of the iceberg

      January 30, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
  25. Wayne

    The powers that be in college and professional football should consider banning the helmet altogether or returning to leather helments. Perhaps it is time to change the game to help all stakeholders. Just a thought.

    January 27, 2012 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Yael Cohen, Get IEP Help dot com

    My head injury was not from football but from a car accident with someone who pulled out right in front of me. An osteopath, who specializes in cranial-sacral work gave me my brain back over time. (Everyone and his brother says they've taken a course or so but one really wants an osteopath who specializes in this. One source is cranialacademy.org) Best is prevention, but if not, this is the way to go.

    January 28, 2012 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Haley

    I think it is better now that they keep there heads up and there is going to be a show that tells you how great football players really are.

    January 28, 2012 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Peter Schuh

    Dont head the ball. Statistically it goes to the other team more often than yours. This statistic holds true from the youth level thru the pros. So in the midfield it makes zero sense. The only place people ever score or defend against a goal is within 8 yeards of the goal. Heading the ball at all during practice is STUPID. To see Brandi Chastain have her players head the ball over and over again in PRACTICE for NO reason was painful to watch. As a player who had at least 5 concussions I can empathize. Plus Brandi was showing how to foul the other player as shoving with your arm is illegal. SO USE YOUR BRAIN and DONT HEAD THE BALL.

    January 29, 2012 at 08:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Richard White

    Gupta's concussion video left me wondering, no statistics. I have been coaching select and high school teams for 45 years and count only a handfull of concussions. I make sure they know how to correctly head a ball, ala Brandi, and do not dwell on heading during practices. Brandi did not mention any concussions statistics. If you ever headed headed a wet leather ball as I did as a teenager, concussions would be prevelant as would be punch drunk Xfootballers.

    January 29, 2012 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Larry Diaz

    Any and all shots to the head are bad for you. They all add up to cause brain damage. The Good Dr. can say all he wants about the real dangers of playing football but nothing will change until the refs start enforcing the rules. To wit; the NCAA rules state that no tackle can start or end with helmet contact. NCAA still uses the word 'tackle' and not 'hit.' But the refs don't call "head shots." At every level of football, would-be assassins lower the crown of their helment and go for the "head shot" with immunity.

    January 29, 2012 at 10:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Dennis Ryan

    I am a NATA Certified Athletic Trainer and have been actively involved in the Athletic Training profession an contact injuries for more than 30 years. Concussions need to be one, prevented and two, taken seriously. Preventative measures should include rule enforcement on the part of the player, coach and officials. First contact with the head in football should be eliminated, again by players, coaches and officials. Although the incidence of concussions can be reduced, they cannot be eliminated. Coaches, parents, and athletes need to be educated on the signs, symptoms, and complications of a concussion. All too often, the failure to educate is the first step in hiding concussion syndromes. Athletes, parents and coaches should be encouraged, if not required to report any and all concussion signs and or symptoms for all sports participants where head contact is encountered, this includes soccer. Reporting should be to a Certified Athletic Trainer or appropriate physician. My current employment at Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada requires ALL high school athletes to take a baseline neuropsychological exam prior to participation. In the event of a concussion, athletes may not return to participation until they satisfactorily complete a post-concussion neuropsychological testing regime and are monitored by a Certified Athletic Trainer during progressive physical activities. It is my opinion that the neuropsychological testing is the most sensitive indicator of brain function and provides the best guidance regarding the return of concussed athletes to participation.

    January 29, 2012 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Tanya

    Oh my gosh! We hear so much stuff about concussions and athletes these day in the NFL. I hope these guys can take better care of themselves. Tanya Monique Glascoe.

    January 29, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Dorothy

    My daughter suffered a concussion 21/2 years ago during a high school soccer game. We live in Houston and have access to the best medical care. After seeing 4 neurologist – all at major hospitals and being told this was our new reality and she might get better, I made it my mission to study and research why the brain was not healing with PCS. I found the answer with Dr. Randall Urban-dean of endocrinology-University of Texas Medical School. His studies have found that when a brain does not heal from a concussion, it is because the pituitary gland has been damaged. He did a study and found 1/5 girls with concussions had pituitary damage and the odds go up to 60% after the 2nd concussion. He is currently doing a study on soldiers and the same results. My daughter has been on HGH injections for 10 months and it has been life changing. Will she ever be 100% -only time will tell but I will tell you we have not gone to the emergency room once since she has been treated and the year before she was there 19 times. I have tried to get my daughter to go public with her injury and as she put it "I have been to hell and I will never go back." That is how she describes life before her pituitary gland was tested. FYI-every blood test, MRI CT scan game back fine. I am convinced she would not be alive today had Dr. Urban not tested her.

    January 29, 2012 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Terri M.

      I am glad to read your story – while at the same time sad this had to happen. I experienced a contra-coup, MTBI, and Post-concussive Syndrome in August of 1999. My life ended on that date as I knew it and started from that date to where it is now. It was a high level co-ed softball injury – a 'ringer' that should not have been allowed onto the field – struck me in the back of the head resulting in my forehead crashing into the ground in front of me. Senseless and life-changing. I have been pursuing treatments from holistic to heavy medications for the past 12+ years. I have not heard of the thyroid specific one – I will be calling on that tomorrow. Thank you for sharing your daughters story and I for one completely hear her when she says 'she has been through hell and is not going back.' Hopefully, the research being done will help people with MTBI and PCS be able to return to work and successfully stay without stigma and lack of understanding.

      January 29, 2012 at 21:52 | Report abuse |
  34. Dan

    You shouldn't play contact football till college. Flag football can teach you the basics and other sports will keep you in shape. If you want to be the warrior that football players are you should be old enough to make that decision on your own. No reason to hit or get hit when you are still developing mentally and physically.

    January 29, 2012 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pmn

      Huh? Have you seen a high school football game?

      January 30, 2012 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
  35. Donna

    I'd like to know the stats on rugby. How many concussions do they get?

    January 29, 2012 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Tom DiPaola

    I enjoyed the report very much, however, I thought it was still a little fluffy and allows parents and sports fans to still find excuses not to make the changes that are really needed. For such an intelligent species, we are really stupid. We are talking about developing brains here. Why even mess with it?! I guess the same people that don't want changes for safety are the same people who still drink and drive, or drink and smoke while pregnant. We need to use our brains to make good decisions, not just as a way to stop the opposite teams play during some sports game!

    January 29, 2012 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Dorothy Bedford

    News for Dorothy of Texas, from Dorothy of NJ: Have your daughter check out my daughter's article at MomsTeam.com for some encouragement in writing her story. It's our family's story of a 14 month concussion from ice hockey. We checked for pituitary – nothing there, but many other therapies helped. We all need to share stories – especially the girls: soccer, basketball, softball, lacrosse and ice hockey. If she won't – you should. Other suggestion: As a follow-up, Dr. Gupta might consider researching academic emergency plans for concussion – his TV report showed a football player taking a test while benched for concussion – this shouldn't have been allowed. It isn't cognitive rest. It not only delayed his return to play, but jeopardized his long term recovery. The new (2011) NJ concussion law cites specific accommodations for school administrators to consider, the only state law that includes academic accommodations, thanks to input from a local neuropsychologist. Finally, a shout out to all ATC's, working to keep our kids safe.

    January 29, 2012 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rosemary

      My daughter had significant academic accommodations made for her in school following a concussion in January 2010 (fro which she is still recovering). Her doctor called the school and spoke to the psychologist, working out what she could and couldn't do in school. She did not attend math the entire 2nd semester, spending that period in the nurses office resting, she didn't do any test taking on a computer and was allowed to either not take a test or use as much time as was needed to complete it. Screen time, at school or at home, was seriously limited. The information our doctor shared with us is that cognitive activities should be as limited as physical activities. She is still on a 504 at school, 2 years later, and will continue to be on it as long as needed. Thank you for bringing up academic accommodations. They are overshadowed by immediate physical concerns, but are just as important in the healing process.

      January 30, 2012 at 18:22 | Report abuse |
  38. Werner from South Africa

    I'm a rugby coach in South Africa and it's also a high risk contact sport. We don't use the same amount of protective gear,we actually use minimal protective gear,but the amount of head injuries that we do get are minimal with almost zero long term effects. We have seen that the way in wich the players enter a tackle situation as well as a ruck or maul drastically deminishes head and neck injuries. I've watched a few football games and I firmly believe that if the issue of safely entering a hit will dramatically deminish head injuries to a minimum. Rugby and football is loved all around the world for it's super hard hits,but there is absolutely NO reason for the amount of head injuries in accompanied by footbal. I firmly believe that if the way in which the entrance into a hit is adressed;the amount of head injuries will deminish,without lowering the intensity of the hit.

    January 30, 2012 at 00:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. jim

    Football is just our "fill-in" violence between wars.

    January 30, 2012 at 07:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. docdewitt

    Hits to the head are par for the course for many things: football, hockey, etc. I am happy to see that we are now encouraging helmuts for tubing on snow, and downhill snowboarding and skiing. Egads, if we ask our five year olds to wear them on their bikes which reach breakneck speeds of 5-7 mph we really ought require them for tubing or skiing inexcess of 50 mph!

    January 30, 2012 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Norma

    When can it be seen again ?

    January 30, 2012 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Aaron

      When is it going to be on again?

      January 30, 2012 at 12:34 | Report abuse |
  42. CatMN

    I am so glad that pressure is being put on High School football teams to recognize the dangers of concussions. I hope there aren’t any old school HS football coaches left like the one my son had 16 years ago. My son had been in varsity basketball and track since his Freshman year in HS. He had a mild concussion in his Junior year while playing basketball. The football coach wanted my son on the team but I wouldn’t sign the permission form. My son turned 18 the summer before his senior year and the coach told him he didn’t need my permission to join the football team. During football practice he went up and over a teammate during a tackle and landed on his head. The coach sent him home. He went to his car but couldn’t remember how to start it. After practice, his friend found him sitting in his car just staring and reported it to the coach. The coach told him to drive my son to the hospital. Afterwards the doctor told us we were really lucky because my son could have died if he hadn’t gone to the hospital. If he had gone home and went to sleep he probably wouldn’t have woke up. The football coach was pressuring my son to get back in the game but he needed a medical release from the doctor. The doctor agreed with me and refused to give the release saying that another concussion could be deadly. He said he wouldn’t give the release even if my son was a professional player making millions because life is worth more than money. The football coach said he knew a doctor that would give my son the release. I said I would sue him and the school if he did. My son lived in what we called a state of “Duh” for several years after that concussion and really worried us when he went off to college. He would get in his car to go home after classes and end up 100 miles in the wrong direction before he realized it. I was driving with him a year after the concussion and he seemed perfectly normal at the time but after about a half hour he turned to me and said I don’t remember driving here. While he seemed to improve over the years, there are still residual effects from that concussion.

    January 30, 2012 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. John N Florida

    My Dad played semi-pro football in the same era as the George Clooney movie, 'Leatherheads'. He enjoyed playing and, later in life, watching football games. He was worried about the hitting taking place before it was acknowledged by anyone including the medical community. He felt he had the answer which was pure simplicity.
    Go BACK to the leather helmets. You don't 'spear' a guy if you're wearing leather. You don't 'lower your head' anticipating the hit. It won't eliminate concussions. Rugby players also suffer from the contact. But it may lessen the severity of the injury beyond concussion. Too often we see a player carted off the field where the concussion was the least of his problems. Paralysis has been a result too often.

    January 30, 2012 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. ottb1

    I experienced a moderate traumatic brain injury when my horse spun and put me head first into a wall. The scary thing is I was completely SYMPTOM FREE for two weeks. I walked around with brain swelling for two full weeks before the vertigo set in and I went to the doctor. I was shocked to when they told me about the swelling. I have three boys and there is no way I will let them play football after that. What if they get the same type of injury and you can't even tell? How many kids could be walking around with a full blown TBI, much worse than a concussion and not even know it. Had I sustained a second injury in those two weeks it would have been all over.

    January 30, 2012 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Beni

    This kid should see a concussion expert. He can be helped. U of Pittsburgh is renowned for concussion management. I think Dr Guypta's response just shows that even neurosurgeons are not all familiar with the programs and medical management available to people post concussion. If you are this child's parent reading this, get him to Pittsburgh!!

    January 30, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rosemary


      Seattle Sports Concussion Program at Harborview Medical Center

      January 30, 2012 at 18:25 | Report abuse |
  46. DT

    I keep hearing the comparison between Rugby and Football. The games are completely different. People who have played rugby that try to Football have a misconception that the protective gear or style of tackling have a correlation with injuries. They do not. Attempting to tackle a football player using a rugby style tackle would be suicidal. Football plays begin from a complete stop where rugby is a game of continuous movement. The average NFL DB ranges from 180 to 230 lbs. with LB's tipping the scales at 230 to 260 lbs. These defenders get anywhere from a 5 to 15 yard sprint to their target with the average athlete at the pro level being able to cover 40 yards in 4 to 5 seconds (with a 10 yard split of 1.4 to 1.7 seconds) Factor in the ball carrier moving at near olympic speed and the collision is devasting. The few rugby players that I have known that played football and didn't adjust their style didn't last long. Its like comparing apples to oranges.

    January 30, 2012 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Richk

    Another reason for why American football is an idiotic activity. This country is obsessed with this silly sport, and it is a true shame how it puts our young adults on the fast-track to life altering injuries......

    January 30, 2012 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Katrina

    This was a fantastic report. I learned a lot and I am pleased that Dr. Gupta is bringing such a vital issue to people.
    Coming from Great Britain, I have always thought that American football was such a violent game and I would not like my son playing it. Sort of like our rugby but a bit worse I think.
    Excellent report.

    January 30, 2012 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. pmn

    This is very sad. My heart goes out to the parents. You read so many people dying of concussions. I had a bad ski accident. I actually walked away from the accident with a swollen neck and very bad concussion. However, I was lucky and did not feel the doctor just have me the diagnosis and sent me home no monitoring or anything. A year later, fell and hit my head again my concussion came very easily. After reading his autopsy disturbed me, all doctors should be paying closer attention to the outcome and effects of these concussions on an individuals life.

    January 30, 2012 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Mike

    I suffered a severe brain concussion a few years back (and it seems now my memory is worse prior to this indicent–hard time concentrating, etc.), but then after this show I saw the commercial for 'Procera AVH (name may be off)'. Is this a feasible medication for memory loss, etc? I'm having a hard time determining whether it's approved by the FDA.

    January 30, 2012 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
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