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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.
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NBA announces new concussion policy
December 12th, 2011
04:39 PM ET

NBA announces new concussion policy

The National Basketball Association  has a new program designed to protect players against the long-term impact of concussions.  On Monday, the league announced it has set up a concussion management program that will be run by Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, one of the world's leading experts on sports and head injuries.  Among the program's protocols:

- All players will get an annual baseline neurological exam and cognitive assessment.
- When an athlete gets a concussion during a game, they will have to undergo a customized series of tests before they can return to the court.
- All information related to a concussion, including the diagnosis, treatment and long-term impact will be kept on file.

The program went into effect on Friday, when players reported to training camp.

Programming note: Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been investigating concussions in sports. Be sure to watch Big Hits, Broken Dreams, debuting Sunday, January 29 at 8 p.m. ET.


Rangers' Boogaard suffered from degenerative brain disease before his death
December 6th, 2011
07:34 PM ET

Rangers' Boogaard suffered from degenerative brain disease before his death

Derek Boogaard, one of the National Hockey League's most aggressive players, suffered from  Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain disease that results from repetitive trauma to the head, an autopsy of his brain has revealed. 

Boogaard's death in May was ruled accidental after he consumed alcohol and the powerful painkiller oxycodone.

Dr. Ann McKee, co-director of the VA CSTE Brain Bank - a collaboration between Boston University, the Department of Veterans Administration, and the Sports Legacy Institute - made the discovery.  She has diagnosed more than 50 athlete brains with CTE.

Individuals affected by CTE can exhibit Alzheimer’s like symptoms, but CTE can only be diagnosed postmortem.  It’s most commonly found in athletes who suffered repeated head trauma, such as football players, boxers and hockey players.
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Soccer 'heading' may cause brain damage
November 29th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Soccer 'heading' may cause brain damage

Heading the soccer ball too frequently may cause damage to the brain, according to new research.

In smaller numbers, there doesn’t seem to be a problem. It’s when the number of headers reaches about 1,300 per year that the brain may begin to suffer traumatic brain damage.

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NFL observers will watch for injuries
November 23rd, 2011
04:52 PM ET

NFL observers will watch for injuries

Injuries are prompting the National Football League to change the way it monitors play during games. 

Beginning with Thursday's games, the league observer in the press box at each stadium will be trying to spot possible player injuries, including concussions, that might be missed at field level. In a memo sent to all of the NFL teams, the league said the decision was made "to enhance the NFL's ability to identify an on-field injury as soon as possible."

The NFL says league observers have been present at its games for decades but have been primarily tasked with following the officiating of the game. Now phone lines from the observer to each team's bench will be installed, allowing the observer direct access to a team's physicians and training staff.

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ER visits for kids with concussions up, says CDC
October 6th, 2011
07:13 PM ET

ER visits for kids with concussions up, says CDC

Emergency room visits are on the rise for kids with sports and recreation-related brain injuries, a CDC report said Thursday.

According to the study, almost 250,000 children were taken to the ER with concussions and other brain injuries in 2009, up from just 150,000  in 2002.

Dr. Julie Gilchrist, a pediatrician at the CDC, and lead author of the study says she believes the numbers are up because parents and coaches are better educated.

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My concussion: Be nice to your brain
After a couple of hours of waiting in the ER, Liz gets an ice pack.
August 2nd, 2011
07:18 AM ET

My concussion: Be nice to your brain

Elizabeth Landau is a writer/producer for CNN.com. This is her story of recovering from a concussion.

I write about health issues every day but I honestly thought that concussions happened only to football, soccer and hockey players. Since kickball is the only sport I play competitively - and there's an obvious limit to how cut-throat an adult kickball game can be - I never considered that a serious head injury would happen to me.

But at kickball in mid-July, I was standing in my usual less-than-important position in right field when the other team's kicker sent the ball flying right toward me. Excited to be useful, I jumped to catch it. Unfortunately, so did one of my teammates, according to my friends who watched in horror.

They say we collided in mid-air, and the force of his body knocked me to the ground. But all I remember is seeing the ball, feeling pain, and suddenly struggling to breathe and speak.

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July 25th, 2011
08:38 AM ET

Is it OK to fly after a head injury?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Asked by Liz from Atlanta
My teammate and I collided during a ballgame last weekend, and I blacked out for a few seconds before being taken to the emergency room. They did a CT scan of my head, which was fine. I am still having some headaches but have plans to fly across the country this weekend. Should I cancel my trip?
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CT scans not always necessary in kids' head trauma
May 9th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

CT scans not always necessary in kids' head trauma

When children are taken to the hospital with bumps to the head, many receive brain CT scans to determine the damage. Yet, according to statistics, in most cases, traumatic brain injury does not occur and the child is fine. Now new research finds that observing a child with head injuries for a certain period of time can help physicians determine whether the child has a serious problem without using CT scans. This not only cuts down on the cost of the visit, but also eliminates unnecessary exposure to unwanted radiation.

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Should bodychecking in youth hockey be banned?
April 18th, 2011
04:21 PM ET

Should bodychecking in youth hockey be banned?

When you consider that only about one in 4,000 youth hockey players will ever make it to the professional ranks, does putting the 3,999 other bodies – and specifically, heads – at risk by allowing bodychecking make sense? That provocative question is raised in an analysis published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Taking the bodychecking - impeding the movement of an opponent with your body - out of hockey is akin to taking tackling out of football. It provokes the ire of sports purists, who might argue that you rob the sport of what makes it essentially hockey or football. But the bodychecking argument – specifically, banning it among all but elite hockey players aged 16 or older, according to the analysis – is rooted in emerging science about how concussion affects the youth brain, compared with the adult brain.

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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