Concussions — looked at from multiple perspectives


With one of the great ones — Dr. Greg Myer, leading concussion and ACL prevention researcher

It should come as no surprise that there has been a lot of ‘discussion’ recently about the topic of concussions in our world of sports medicine. That subject has been a ‘hot button’ issue for a decade.

Whether the issue is one of Cam Newton playing on through an injury that may have warranted immediate evaluation or whether it’s the topic of concussion reporting at the youth level, there is an on-going conversation in the media, social media, medical literature and conferences on sports-related concussions (SRCs) in all their many facets.

I was given an entirely new view on SRCs today. I had the great pleasure of attending a lecture on concussion prevention given by my friend (and frequent CJSM contributor) Greg Myer, PhD, who was visiting my home institution of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  He delivered a talk entitled, “Concussion Prevention:  Has Nature Already Provided the Solution?”

It was a fascinating exploration of biomimetics influencing primary sports medicine research.  Dr. Myer and his team saw in nature a paradox:  species of woodpeckers knock their heads against hard objects thousands of times,  generating up to 1500 g-force units with each hit, all the while avoiding getting concussed. They then looked at the biology of how the bird manages this  and developed a device that players can wear in their sport to, potentially, reduce their own risk of SRCs.

The lecture was compelling, both for the details of the device and the research, and for the overall brilliance of the concept.  Talk about thinking ‘outside the box’:  looking at a woodpecker, and seeing a way of making athletes safer on the playing field.  Fascinating stuff.

I finished off the day with more of Dr. Myer and more of concussions, by picking up the September CJSM. In this issue, we have four original research studies focused on sport-related concussions (SRCs). Three come from Boston, a ‘hub’ of research on SRCs, and one comes from South Africa, which I was able to review  in the last CJSM blog post.  One of the Boston studies includes Dr. Myer as a contributing author:  Young Athletes’ Concerns About Sports-Related Concussions:  The Patient’s Perspective.  Another reports results of a survey of American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) Physicians on concussion management practices.  And the third looks at SRCs from the perspective of another set of stakeholders, coaches: Content, Delivery, and Effectiveness of Concussion Education for US College Coaches.

In this issue, therefore, we look at SRCs from the perspective of the patient, the doctor, and the coach.  We look at SRCs ‘spanning the globe,’ from Boston to Cape Town.

And though Dr. Myer’s work on concussion injury prevention is not published in our pages, please use the links I have provided above to read (and see) more of what’s behind the idea that woodpeckers may help provide part of the solution to SRCs.

The animal perspective, so to speak.

Enjoy all the different views of this common injury, and, as ever, let us know what you think in the comments section of this blog.



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