Heading in Football

The men’s FIFA World Cup Trophy

Like a lot of folks in the field of sport medicine I am, at heart, a lover of sport.  From participation to fandom, my relationship with sport runs deep and has been lifelong.

And so, if you are similarly inclined, then you are likely still recovering from what already is being described as the greatest final in World Cup history.

I spent the better part of the day enjoying the titanic struggle between La Albiceleste and Les Bleus followed by several more hours watching highlights and reading analyses.  Truly, Argentina v. France was one of the best live sporting events I have ever witnessed.

And for the many, including myself, who have long admired the greatness of Lionel Messi, it was a joy watching him, at long last, kiss the FIFA World Cup trophy.

The entire month of football was exciting — so many good matches, and relatively little in the way of overt controversy in the area of sports medicine (I’m thinking about the 2018 and other past World Cups where there were clear controversies surrounding players’ returning promptly to play after probable concussions).

Heading in football (soccer) — photo courtesy Wikimedia

But there is always, arguably, something puzzling about the ‘beautiful game,’ possibly the most popular sport on the planet:  the intentional use of the head as a sporting instrument.

‘Heading’ in soccer has, with our modern understanding of concussion and the sequelae of repetitive head impacts, become an issue surrounded by controversy.  How much heading is safe?  At what age should an individual begin to learn how to head a football (or soccer ball, for my American colleagues)? Read more of this post

IOC Concussion Conference Amsterdam 2022

The podium at CISG meeting in Amsterdam — Dr. Jacklyn Caccese of Ohio State University presenting

What is the definition of a concussion?

If you are wondering whether this is a rhetorical question, would it confuse you still more to know this is how the IOC Concussion in Sport Group (CISG) Consensus Conference in Concussion began in Amsterdam?

Would it concern you that this is still an open question for one of the more vexing problems we deal with in sports medicine? Even among the panel of world experts gathered to bring together the most recent update of consensus statement for concussion in sport?

I think the answer is — yes. Yes to the confusion, yes to the concern.

I had never been to an IOC CISG meeting. As many of the journal’s readers will know, there have heretofore been several meetings with a consensus statement as their output: 2001 Vienna was the first, 2016 Berlin was the most recent.

CISG was set for a meeting to take place in Paris in the autumn of 2020, but we all know what occurred in that year’s spring.  And so the 6th meeting was rescheduled for 2022 and for a new venue: Amsterdam.

I have just returned home from Amsterdam and wanted to collect my thoughts to give you the reader a brief rundown.

These meetings have become huge, and I am not merely referring to the number of participants (hundreds).  The worldwide press recognizes the importance of the CISG and its influence on global sports.  Over the past year the press has been following closely the story of the previous leader, and now discredited academician, Paul McCrory. And……..immediately prior to the gathering in Amsterdam, the news broke that America’s NIH formally acknowledges the causal link between concussion and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). 

That’s a lot. Read more of this post

A South African Trek

Deputy Editor Jim MacDonald with Co-Presenters at IFSEMC, Winile Mothsoane (Left) and Phatho Zondi (center)

I’m coming off one of the most exceptional experiences of my professional life, and I want to share the good news about sports & exercise medicine in southern Africa.

A week ago, I was in Pretoria South Africa at the International Festival of Sports, Exercise and Medicine Conference (IFSEMC).  I was sponsored by one of CJSM’s Affiliated Societies — the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM).

The AMSSM has been gracious enough to sponsor me in the past when I traveled in 2015 to South Africa to attend the South African Sports Medicine Association (SASMA) biennial conference.  I wrote about that experience in this same blog seven years ago.

On this visit, the conference was a true festival — a joint venture put on by SASMA, the Biokinetics Association of South Africa (BASA), the African Physical Activity Network and The South African Society of Biomechanics.

There is still so much I am processing from this visit, but I’d like to share with you some of the highlights after first encouraging you to do these things:

a) pencil in October 2024 in your calendar.  You must make an effort to come down to Cape Town for the upcoming biennial SASMA conference (dates and agenda full to be determined);

b) follow SASMA and BASA on Twitter if you don’t already; you’ll learn so much.

Now, a few of those highlights. Read more of this post

It’s summer — are you recharging?

Breathe — your wellness is personally important, but important to your patients too.

I hope you have been enjoying your summer if you’re one of our Northern Hemisphere readers (and, likewise, for those of you Down Under — I hope winter is treating you well).

Since I live in the United States, I am living through those long, somewhat languid days where there is a bit more space to ponder and recollect on my professional life.  August — with the onset of American football, and soccer, and the coincident uptick in injuries — is still around the corner.  The pace of my clinic is a bit slower, and I have a vacation coming up.

Summer can be a time to recharge one’s batteries, because Lord knows those do need the backup!!!  The demands of our profession have always been extraordinary.  That is only more true in the pandemic era, and still truer for many of my colleagues who are women or who are a member of an underrepresented minority group. (1,2)

Physician burnout has been increasing over recent decades, with the prevalence of the problem thought to be increasing in the era of the COVID19 pandemic.(3)  Burnout has been associated with myriad problems, including suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.(3) Read more of this post

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