I love football!  Plain and simple!  I grew up playing the sport in grade school, high school, and continued playing right into college at Ole Miss.  I played linebacker and I really liked to "hit!"  Not in a mean, sadistic way, but in a manner that I deemed as "doing the very best I could do."  Some of you reading this are probably wondering what that means and I'd have to add that it's kinda like riding a Harley...If I have to explain it, you'll never understand. Just know it's about being good at what you do.   Anyway, the game taught me many things, like; "you practice like you play", the value of teamwork, and the sense of belonging to something bigger than myself.  Without a doubt, it was an incredibly positive force in my life and I loved it.  Knowing this, you can probably understand how it feels when you have to stop doing something that you love so much.  The end came for me in the form of my third concussion.  It was time to hang up my cleats, but I still love watching those that play it today.  Which explains what I was doing yesterday...watching the NFL Draft!

  • For those of you that have never seen this spectacle, it is awesome!  It takes place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  You have fans cheering their favorite teams, you have a countdown timer for each NFL team to make a selection, you've got play-by-play announcers giving you the statistics on the potential draft choices.  It's just like a sporting event, only no sport.  When a selection is made, the Commissioner, Roger Goodell, approaches a podium on stage and says, "with the first pick in the 2010 NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams select..."  At that moment, all cameras zero in on the named athlete.  Many of these young men are on the phone, talking with family, or their agents.  Some are emotional, complete with tears.  Some are joyous, hugging all around them.  However, as I continued to watch the young college men being selected by their future employers, I couldn't help but notice that all too familiar, yet humble, smile on their faces.  Sure, they were signing million dollar contracts and were now shaking hands with the Commissioner of the League on National TV, but still you could see it; humility.  You've seen it too.  If you've ever walked through an airport recently, you can see this same expression on our battle-dressed warriors traveling between combat zone and safe haven.  
  • That's when it hit me!  
  • Like a Mike LB on a back side blitz!  The National Football League is trying to set an example for our warriors to follow.  I know, it probably wasn't their total intention, maybe it's just me!  You cannot deny the fact that a major corporation values its employees enough to open the door for the well-being of their employees.  They want you to know that head injuries are not the type of injury you can just "rub some dirt on and walk it off."  Here's a little more depth and thought on the subject.
  • In December of 2009, the NFL announced stricter guidelines on when players could return to the field after a head injury.  "The stricter 2009 statement on return-to-play was developed by the NFL’s medical committee on concussions in conjunction with team doctors, outside medical experts, and the NFL Players Association in order to provide more specificity in making return-to-play decisions. The new guidance supplements the 2007 statement on return-to-play that encouraged team physicians and athletic trainers to continue to take a conservative approach to treating concussions and established that a player should not return to the same game after a concussion if the team medical staff determined that he had lost consciousness," notes the NFL blog.
  • The 2009 statement advises that a player who suffers a concussion should not return to play or practice on the same day if he shows any signs or symptoms of a concussion that are outlined in the return-to-play statement. It further states:
  • “Once removed for the duration of a practice or game, the player should not be considered for return-to-football activities until he is fully asymptomatic, both at rest and after exertion, has a normal neurological examination, normal neuropsychological testing, and has been cleared to return by both his team physician(s) and the independent neurological consultant. A critical element of managing concussions is candid reporting by players of their symptoms following an injury. Accordingly, players are to be encouraged to be candid with team medical staffs and fully disclose any signs or symptoms that may be associated with a concussion.”
  • Based on the 2009 statement, a player who suffers a concussion should not return to play or practice on the same day if any of the following symptoms or signs is identified based on the initial medical evaluation of the player:
  • Loss of consciousness;
  • Confusion as evidenced by disorientation to person, time or place; inability to respond appropriately to questions; or inability to remember assignments or plays;
  • Amnesia as evidenced by a gap in memory for events occurring just prior to the injury; inability to learn and retain new information; or a gap in memory for events that occurred after the injury;
  • Abnormal neurological examination, such as abnormal pupillary response, persistent dizziness or vertigo, or abnormal balance on sideline testing.
  • New and persistent headache, particularly if accompanied by photosensitivity, nausea, vomiting or dizziness;
  • Any other persistent signs or symptoms of concussion.
  • This guidance will only work if players (young men taught to play with pain and adversity) will be truthful and seek help when they've had their "bell rung." 
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls 
  • This is even more important for our warriors.  In a January 31, 2008 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Charles Hoge and colleagues disclosed their findings from a pool of over 2500 Infantry soldiers returning from Iraq.  What they found was that nearly 44% of soldiers who lost consciousness from IED blasts were diagnosed with PTSD, compared with 27% of those who had concussions but remained conscious.  If the NFL thinks it's good enough for million dollar playmakers, why shouldn't it be important for our men and women in uniform?
  • Take Away
  • You can find out more about working with me at Warrior Life Coach.  If you have been exposed to an IED, you need to ensure it is documented, and I would welcome the opportunity to help you with your future plans.  If you've become dizzy or nauseous from blast exposure and haven't reported it, you need to take action immediately to see a neurologist.  Knowing the risk factors of developing PTSD can be an early step in prevention.  Your silence, however; will never be an aid to your health, but it is undoubtedly a place where the demon of PTSD lives and breathes. 



Blog Tags: