Head Games: Discussion
Originally broadcast on November 19, 2008 | Comments 25
Very interested in your program Head Injuries outlining the results of numerous concussions on professional athletes.Closer to home Bob Stevens played centre for the Ottawa Rough Riders some years ago and retired after about 5 years on the team.Bob died a few months ago at the age of 55 or 56.This may be related to your story as a centre takes numerous slaps to the head.I do not know the cause of Bob's death.
— Posted on July 23, 2009 02:21 PM
I couldn't believe what I was watching and hearing. Over the years I have suffered several slips, falls, sports injuries, and " minor car accidents". However my recent accident has left me with a totally different post accident experience. Still in post-accident "recovery" -
I am feeling alien to myself, probably cognitive difficulties. It was important for me to identify with the post injury symptoms of these athletes. Your program help me understand what everyone else is seeing -- What I wasn't aware of - the changes happening to me. Your program presentation has made me understand the degeneration that is projected to be manifested from these and similar injuries that will likely occur. It is now easier for me to accept the treatment and the close monitoring. Thank you for a wonderful and informative program " Head Games " The visual presentations help me understand the advanced stages of brain injuries.
— Posted on July 12, 2009 12:23 PM
I found this very interesting as my son suffered numerous concussions and I always felt they may have contributed to his problems. Matt was not a football player but an avid motocross racer and freestyle rider, who had his first concussion at age 7 (fell on the ice at the rink) then couple years later fell off the deck and hit his head, both produced temporary loss of memory.In the years that followed Matt had several bike crashes and on at least 2 occasions had mild concussions,one of which he rode again the same day.My son died 4 years ago at the age of 23. He seemed to do every thing to the extreme (no fear) ,suffered from depression and addiction,not sure which came first.Matt went to sleep one night and never woke up,his death was not due to overdose or suicide,he was also diabetic and went into diabetic coma. We tried so hard to understand why he did the things he did,if only we had known more of the dangers of concussions, I'm certain we would have been more vigilant.
— Posted on June 1, 2009 05:32 PM
Thank you for running this segment again. It is the second time I've watched it, and it is vital enough to be re-run over and over.
Brain injury is the silent killer. You cannot appreciate the damage it does because it is largely invisible. Change in mood, chalk that up to situational factors, no? Early dementia, gotta be steroids, right? Only when it becomes deadly does anyone sit up at take notice.
There are a lot of people that are the walking wounded. Just reading the comments on this board is heartbreaking.
How do you treat this? Obviously, treating the symptoms of depression, dementia, etc. with drugs is just a panacea.
Or are we just throwing these people away after we are done with them?
I've dealt with the brain injured, and there is promises on the horizon. We just have to recognize this properly.
I'm not gonna say "keep your kids outta sports". But what I will say is watch for signs. Watch for signs that Johnny isn't behaving like he used to.
I'm being an advocate here, but I would try hyperberaric oxygen therapy to treat brain injury. Forcing O2 into the brain after a trauma appears to have some benefit.
I will not state that it is a cure. But it seems to help, and it is up to the powers that be to recognize it.
— Posted on May 29, 2009 11:05 AM
I found this segment disappointing as the question was, "What's killing the professional football players?"
The focus was on the impact of head injuries. As such, I am left with many questions such as:
a) How extensive is steroid use in professional football and what are the long term impacts on the brain? For instance, are older body builders with admitted steroid use running into the same problems?
b) Do alcoholism and certain drug addictions bring on premature dementia?
c) Even if you are in shape, does not being large like the size of a professional lineman or linebacker put a strain on your heart?
d) A lot of males with mainstream jobs get depressed when they lose their jobs. I have read research on fighter pilots that get depressed when they reach the end of their flying career. Do a lot of professional athletes in non-contact sports get depressed when their career comes to an end?
e) While they are playing professional football but prior to any concussions, do these men have more behavioural problems than the average male?
— Posted on May 25, 2009 02:30 AM
This was a very illuminating show. I am 48 and have some of the symptoms described. I have had numerous concussions through high school and did play contact football. At that time, it was called getting your bell rung, and I never considered or counted how many times it occurred. Interestingly, the worst concussion occurred while playing rugby in high school gym class. I had amnesia after the hit. I went through the next few hours just trying to remember the next step in the day. Where did I leave my clothes in the change room? Where is my locker? What is the locker combination? Where is my first class? Where do I sit? It all came back only at the moment it was required. I would blindly stumble into the change room and only after I entered the room, I would remember: Oh yea, it's this path to where my clothes are or after the lock was in my hand: Oh yea, turn left this much etc.
I am a mechanical engineer. I obtained a very high average in first year university but it tailed off each year. Time and time again, I would start off an exam with not knowing a single answer. Similar to the amnesia episode, my brain would almost turn on like a switch, and I would complete the exam.
Fast forward to today, and I feel I am slipping a bit more. I have been changing jobs even more frequently lately. I have a short temper, and tend to avoid people and lose concentration in conversations.
I would go to meetings, and have trouble staying with the flow. I would catch myself repeating things and wonder: How many times did I say this already?
I never made the connection of my condition and brain trauma until this show.
I think I am border line as I don't drink heavily.
However, I can see another 4-5 years of reductions would get anyone into the conditions you described.
Thanks for the "heads up".
I was extremely surprised to see the amount of damage a sport can do to an athlete. It is very sad to see football players having to suffer through something they love. being an athlete myself, i would hate to give up my sport and i would hate even more to know that the sport i love is killing me.
— Posted on January 7, 2009 11:54 PM
I cannot find words to describe how I felt when I watched your program. I am happy to see that this problem is being recognized. Though our son did not get his concussion from sports, he did through a vehicle accident twenty years ago. He is, and we are, experiencing the same symptoms/problems. My only request is: where can we go for help? Please!
— Posted on December 29, 2008 02:19 PM
An excellent report.
I am considered to be a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor, the result of a (snow) skiing accident as a 13 year old, and possibly some additional events in the Canadian Forces.
I have suffered borderline depression, divorce, loss of family, extended family, and friends. Is worse yet to come?
Medically ranked 'Superior' in cognitive skills (my core training is in Applied Sciences), getting so-called professional medical help in british columbia seems utterly impossible. The one or two enlightened health care providers encountered, are not available to me, and the rest (medical staff) present as uncaring and incompetant. The 'better' their credentials, the lower their competancy; this included hospital-based staff, at all levels, too.
Forty years elapsed before the proper imaging and other testing was done, as evidence of damage. Anyone having a possible head injurty should demand that all possible tests and imaging be done, and definitely acquire the images and all reports for their own records.
Don't overlook the various brain-injury groups across Canada. These non-professionals, often Brain Injury Survivors themselves, offer far more insight and assistance than any other resource, especially in bc.
I really enjoyed the program on the Football players. I was wondering if the Canadian Military is aware of these types of brain injuries. My boyfriend was in the military for 25 years in various positions and at the last, a tank commander. He has taken many knocks on the head and been in the hospital for a week.
He has battled depression for many years and was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder in 2005, I wonder if the head injuries had more to do with this than the depression. He too has battled with alcoholism
I hope that for all the people that have this condition, regardless of how they received it, will be able to get the help that the need so desperately.
— Posted on December 28, 2008 11:38 PM
Have there been any studies done on players from earlier years to see if this pattern of problems continues through generations of players? It doesn’t seem as though the Eskimo players of the ‘50s had such short lifespans or or as many players who went through difficulties in adjusting to life after football. These teams produced a premier, a lieutenant-governor, and a mayor of Edmonton. The players were smaller in those days, but they wore less protection, played both ways during a game, and played more games (if you include playoffs) in a season, with less time between games to rest injuries than was the case in more recent times.
I agree with Katerina that it would be interesting to hear Mr. McKeown’s own perspective on this as a former player, especially since he was a starting centre, and as such, was in the centre of the hitting.
Jack Morrow Edmonton
— Posted on December 27, 2008 03:13 AM
I believe there is more to the explanation than just concussion. It would be noteworthy to control for multiple athlete groups of contact and non-contact types against the regular population for both mortality and depression. I think we would see significant differences between the athletes as a group and the regular population regardless of concussion. I believe that youth, adolescents and adults who play extreme sports (ie professionally or training virtually full time for pursuit of something such as Olympics) are producing chemical patterns, if you will, in their brains and bodies. When this ceases, as in semi retirement or retirement of the high level of play, this dramatic change produces reactions that are not healthy: indeed the high level of play is what is not healthy in the first place -- it is not "normal" -- and the final result of years of this is something of a boomerang effect: depression, withdrawal, social problems.
This was an excellent story. Hopefully the research will be extrapolated to the general public who have suffered severe and/or multiple concussions. I am a critical care nurse who spent many years working with neuro patients. I was was married for 22 1/2 years to a great guy who played AAA hockey as well as many other sports and had several documented & undocumented concussions in the 1970's & '80's. He battled with alcoholism for most of our marriage, as it got worse, I just couldn't hang in there anymore, and we divorced. I often thought he showed signs of early dementia, but he was only in his early 40's. His alcoholism is worse now, and he suffers from depression. If this was a more recognized condition, maybe there would be help before someone's life spirals beyond repair. Thanks for the story.
— Posted on December 19, 2008 06:59 PM
Thank you for the program on brain injuries. I have noticed that over the past few years there as been more attention given to this issue. I am someone who as been affected by a few closed head injuries, which have resulted in concussions....
For me, there is probably an 8 years span where i received five or six mild to medium head injuries, three of which happened within a one year span. All injuries were in different locations as well.
I have done some independent reading, mostly from a magazine called Scientific American Mind, which as the title may imply, is about the brain....
I can relate to how most people have coped with their own issues, i've been homeless twice, and even lived without running water for 5 years, after my second time being homeless. After getting ODSP, which took me three years to get, I could afford to drink again. The hardest thing for me now is trying to understand the specifics of each injury and not getting them mixed up with other 'symptoms' that have manifested from other issues. Drinking just seems to be a way to pass the time these days, and i'd prefer to drink over taking any kind of anti depressant (yes i know, alcohol is a depressant but i don't trust the pharmaceutical industry).
Anyways, i've somewhat lost my train of thought, so i'll end here. Thanks again for the program, maybe sometime in the future there could be a more in depth program on the effects of head injuries, and an investigation into the different locations of the brain and their effects, as oppose to just a specific issue, such as just football players.
All in all, I thought this was a great program.
Maybe I missed it, but I saw no mention of the fact that Bob McKeown was a former CFL player. This would have added to the report – it's not just a reporter doing a story that was assigned to him; Mr. McKeown has first-hand knowledge of the subject of this episode.
Also missing was even the word "drugs." I believe Chris Benoit had a problem with steroids, and many athletes get in trouble with recreational drugs as well. I agree that it's important to expose the dangers of concussions, and I know the "suck it up" old-school types could dispute the findings by blaming all the dementia and brain damage on drug use, but you cannot discount the possibility that drug use played a part in these ex-players' behaviour.
— Posted on November 25, 2008 05:31 PM
Someone once said "there are no coincidences in life..." I was going to watch another newscast, then saw the preview for this program, thank goodness!
So much of this resonated with me; homelessness, drinking, depression, the "suck-it-up-buttercup" mentality, not coping, and on and on.
The program highlights football players, but it was resonating so much I had to check out the site. As I read the comments I realized I taken some pretty good shots over 45 yrs., of which only one was diagnosed and treated, "don't let him go to sleep for 12 hours." ....
Faith, thanks for posting, you may have the answer I need.
Is there a test, MRI, or whatever to actually see the damage? Can anyone give me the name of it? With our health system maxed out as it is, I'd like to be able to ask for the specific test. ...
Thanks to all the posters for sharing, your effort could save much suffering!
And thanks to the Fifth Estate for an excellent piece of journalism.
— Posted on November 24, 2008 12:55 AM
This was an interesting program, it reminded me of another program on the CBC documenting the disproportionate incidences of ALS among football players as well.
— Posted on November 23, 2008 12:21 PM
The effects of concussions are cumulative, each one adds more damage to what was done last time. People do not realize how easily our brains bounce against the inside of our skulls, getting bruised and scraped up. Nor do we realize that the average saloon brawl in a western film would result in broken hands, severe concussions and deaths if it happened in real life.
Perhaps those choreographed fights and stunts in films have helped us all think we are teflon coated and indestructible? We certainly are not. I've had at least two concussions and in reading Johnny Quirt's list of symptoms I found most I also have. We need to take much much more care of our bodies than we do, our skulls particularly. Thank you for sounding an alert. My heart goes out to the suffering of those athletes amateur and professional and the suffering of those who love them.
I just watched parts of your program and found it very interesting, but the parts with Dan Kepley where he is almost laughing at it surprised me. I was a linebaker played with Saskatchewan Roughriders 1961- 1972 and had many concussion and the funny thing i can remember my first one with the Saskatoon Hilltops in 1960 better than the rest since I woke up in the Hospital the next day and didn't know who I was or where I was, when my younger brother Cliff who also played came to see me with the trainer I didn't know who they were at first.I think the main thing that has kept me going at 69 is that I quite drinking in my 40s and have kept my mind and body very active by running a BookStore which I love. I did go through a divorce and have suffered mood swings and depression.I have taken vit b for years & it seems to help. Wayne Shaw
Wayne Shaw Saskatoon
— Posted on November 20, 2008 05:58 PM
What a great report. Research is top-notch. Visuals are gripping. Interviewees are well-experienced and well-informed. I especially appreciated hearing Ted Johnson's story,
Big men with big hearts...and brains of 85 yrs old grandmothers. My heart goes out (especially to Mike Webster, one of the game's top centers) I had heard his story a few years back, but in this context it really hits home.
Very nicely done! Thank you, i had been wanting to know more about this.
Martin Gladu Montreal
— Posted on November 20, 2008 02:20 PM
I found this an interesting segment but had a question about what was not mentioned in the program. These are big men, whose size is of great benefit to them to be successful, some of the size is not genetic, but derived from the use of steroids, yet no mention at all about this. Why not? This is not to say that concussions are not the reason for what happened to these talented athletes, but are there other factors, particularly in light for those who had heart issues.
This isn't just a problem in profession sports, but in organized armature sports
I'm 22 and have suffered 7 serious concutions, probably manny more minor ones
Playing hockey and basketball and also in a few fights.
Im in college and am pulling straight A's, but i have suffered from severe depression since my injuries and have trouble interacting with people and have some pretty bad mood swings. I have some vision and hearing problem too.
If any parents are watching this and have kids playing contact sports they should take note and watch there kids carefully after any serious hits.
I which i had know the dangers of just shaking it off getting up and getting back in the game.
— Posted on November 20, 2008 12:50 AM
I just watched your documentary on head injuries with Football players. I have a friend whose brother-in-law had a major head injury from a construction accident. He also had some major issues with depression and change in character. It would probably be interesting for you to talk to this young man's widow and you would also find a connection similar to what you found with the Football players that you mentioned in your article. This young man just recently died in an automobile accident. Several times he also talked about suicide.
I am 42yrs old, and have had 8 known concussions in my life time.
I never played professional sports, but 2 car accidents, and other slips, and falls have now left me with recurrent vestibulopathy possibly with episodic benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. I also have blurred vision, fatigue, ears ringing, instant headaches, nausea, and fibromyalgia.
I can relate with ( I believe Ted Johnson from The New England Patriots) with not being able to handle kids,family @ times, crowds,etc. I also have a very short temper, and I am on blood pressure meds'.
I have also have had ruined a relation because of many of these factors.
I do find, now that my memory is poor, and have trouble with conversations, and ordering @ restaurants from the menu.
I can only say that, I find keeping myself busy, in total communication with family, and friends is a must for me. I do regularly drink, and I am in a lot of pain, as well as on meds' for the pain, because of the car accidents.
I do quit the drinking on occasion for me, but have yet to quit fully and don't feel that I ever will.
I hope in the future there is a way to protect our heads in all venues, and that these professional athletes can find, and get the help they deserve.
Thank-You again for a great, moving show,
Listening to your comments about concussion in sport, I remembered a Nova program where Dr. Jamshid Ghajar from New York (I think) presented his concepts of concussion diagnosis in which someone with a concussion cannot focus their eyes on a point - in his laboratory he has a machine that can measure this but recently they have developed glasses with the same computer that can be used right at the bench level. I wonder why, when we know the issues of dementia in sport that our professional sports organizations haven't moved in this direction. It is pretty hard to tell your kids not to play a sport after a concussion and I know that my son has been put back into a sports game when he clearly had a concussion. If this technology was adopted by professional sport, it would not take long before it moved into the amateur world. And incidently, in Canada, there are no required standards for anything but hockey helmets - so your child is required to wear a helmet for bike riding but there are no standards with regard to this helmet. The Brain Injury Assoc of Canada and the Brain Injury Assoc of Alberta have been working with Hedy Fry in an attempt to have standards for all sports helmets having to meet set standards.
Is there a way to find out more about Dr. John Adams? We are planning an Alberta Brain Injury Conference for April 2009 and are looking for a plenary speaker to speak to our colleagues - I am involved in the world of brain injury since my spouse was injured at work when 1500 lbs of concrete fell on his head. I also run a caregiver society where we work with families that struggle with the after traumatic brain injury issues. Brain injury is a family injury as all members of the family are effected by the change in personality and the everyday struggles. Rehab programs are limited and so it is the family that bears the load. Caregiving can truly be a long long journey after a traumatic brain injury be it from repeated concussion or another single assault to the brain. Thank-you for doing this program on the results of repeated concussion - Most people do not understand the issues until you live in the momement.
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