Bill would strengthen youth helmet standards
March 16th, 2011
04:17 PM ET

Bill would strengthen youth helmet standards

Congressional leaders marked March 16, Brain Injury Awareness Day, by introducing legislation designed to protect young athletes from the dangers of sports-related head injuries.

The new bill, called the Children's Sports Athletic Equipment Safety Act, would make sure that new and reconditioned sports helmets for high school and younger players would meet higher safety standards.

"Helmet standards haven't been changed in 30 years," said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-New Jersey, one of the co-sponsors of the legislation. "It is very important our students are protected with the best head gear possible."


NFL to require sideline test after head blows
February 25th, 2011
09:47 AM ET

NFL to require sideline test after head blows

Dr. Richard Ellenbogen and Dr. Hunt Batjer talk to CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta about the league’s concussion policy, part of a special “Sanjay Gupta, MD – Head Games: The Truth About Concussions,”  Saturday at  7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. ET and Sunday at 7:30 a.m.

Under increasing pressure from players, medical professionals and even fans, on Friday the National Football League took a step towards clearing up its policy on treating head injuries. Starting this fall, every team will be required to use the same neurologic test to determine – on the field – whether an injured player may return to the game.

"It's simple, 'go or no-go,' says Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, co-chair of the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Medical Committee, who adds that the exam was developed in response to a direct request from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

NFL committee co-chairs: "In doubt, take the player out"

"The NFL Sidelines Concussion Exam" is a battery of simple tests evaluating concentration, basic thinking skills and balance. It also includes a questionnaire that asks about concussion symptoms. It's designed to be given on the field, within a 6-to-8 minute window. “The individual pieces have all been validated through research, but they’ve never been used together like this,” says Ellenbogen.


February 21st, 2011
06:54 PM ET

Player's text: Send my brain to NFL research bank

The toll of repeated head blows and injuries loomed over football after the death last week of former NFL player, Dave Duerson.

Duerson, a former Chicago Bears safety who was a key member of the team's legendary defense,  was found dead Thursday in Florida.  He was 50.  Duerson shot himself in the chest, which kept his brain intact for examination for a debilitating brain injury called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE.

His son, Tregg Duerson said, "There was a text message the night before that was a bizarre text message that he sent to my mother saying that he loved her and he loved my family and that to please get his brain to the NFL brain bank. My mother called me at work. We talked about it and it was bizarre text. You can't make sense of it."

They tried to reach him, but "no one could get in contact with him," Tregg Duerson said, with his voice trembling.

"When I'm getting up at 1:30 in the morning and I'm letting the police in, you know, the first thing on my mind is, 'I think they're about to tell me my father died.'"

It is unclear whether Duerson had the brain damage that can cause bizarre behavior and severe depression.  It is impossible to determine whether a person has CTE without examining his or her brain after death.

The NFL has been criticized for being too lax in dealing with the consequences of head blows. Last year, the league's new medical committee members  vowed to change that culture and step up efforts to prevent head injuries. FULL POST

2010 Year in Review: Concussions
December 28th, 2010
12:24 PM ET

2010 Year in Review: Concussions

Editor’s note: This week, The Chart is taking a closer look at the most important health stories of 2010. Each day, we'll feature buzzwords and topics that came to the forefront over the past year.

For an injury that is practically invisible, concussions got a lot of attention in 2010.

Some of it was disarming: Two young football players died, and the numbing suggestion is that concussions are to blame. There was even a link - tenuous, yet tantalizing - forged between Lou Gehrig's disease and concussion. Those dark stories catalyzed the scientific community as study into concussion expanded. FULL POST

One Canadian concussion policy: 'Better safe than sorry'
December 6th, 2010
04:40 PM ET

One Canadian concussion policy: 'Better safe than sorry'

Calling its policy "better safe than sorry," a Canadian hockey league has instituted new rules that could keep players suspected of having a concussion off the ice for days, weeks, or even months.  The new guidelines' most forceful statement: "A player suspected of a concussion must stop play immediately."

Hockey Nova Scotia's new policy is designed to eliminate rink-side guesswork, insisting that the diagnosis of a head injury happen among medical, rather than bench staff.


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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.