The Concussion Syndrome

By Matt Bowen of the National Football Post and Special to NFL Gridiron Gab

Concussions. We talk about them in the NFL like they are routine, almost part of the culture that drives this game, or drives this violence we watch every Sunday.

But, they are an issue. An issue that needs to be talked about from my point of view.

I’ve had concussions, most likely dating back to my high school days at Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois when I was running the option. Sure, there is hitting in high school football, and it takes a step up in the college game; but in the National Football League, the helmet to helmet collisions happen every game—sometimes every practice—and they are going to end player’s careers, or worse, debilitate their lives.

I started getting headaches, mostly in the morning, during my career in the NFL. But, were they just headaches from stress, overwork, and the constant rattling of my brain inside my helmet? Or, and I hate to even imagine this, were they something worse? I was knocked unconscious when my Hawkeyes traveled to Tucson in college to take on Arizona. A knee to the side of the head and that was it—lights out.

I vomited the entire way home on the plane, but I was out there the next week in Champaign, making tackles until I couldn’t do it anymore in the fourth quarter. The headache became too extreme. What about the NFL? Every time you tackle an NFL running back in the hole, it is most likely the equivalent of being in a car accident—a head on car accident during rush hour. Stars form in between your eyes, your speech becomes slurred, and you wobble your way back to the huddle—hoping your brain resets itself before the next play.

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2 Responses to “The Concussion Syndrome”

  1. Mark says:

    Matt,
    Morning headaches are a symptom of a boxers “Glass Jaw”. You don’t have to be a boxer to have one. The most recent 2008 FIFA international concussion conference has recognized the orthotic retainer like mouth guard featured in a 2006 ESPN magazine story.
    Soldiers who suffer the same type of chinstrap forces or chin blows have similar symtoms. Many high profile pro and NCAA athletes have been relieved of concussion and its symptoms, http://www.mahercorlabs.com/studies.htm

  2. Steve says:

    NFL Concussion Expert Recognized at 2008 FIFA Concussion Summit

    Patriot’s Dentist offers innovative mouth guard to help prevent concussions.

    Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) November 11, 2008 — Paula Duffy, National Sports Examiner for Examiner.com and regular contributor to The Huffington Post wrote an article (‘If a Simple Mouth Guard Can Prevent Concussions, Why Isn’t the NFL All Over It?’) that has ignited interest in and directed attention towards ways to reduce or prevent the alarming number of sports-related concussions, especially in the National Football League.

    Duffy’s column in the Examiner.com (www.Examiner.com) expressing concern for St. Louis Rams quarterback Trent Green and his return to the field after suffering two concussions in one calendar year, including one at the most severe level identified by medical professionals, elicited an informative phone call from Mahercor Laboratories, LLC. Headed up by the New England Patriot’s team dentist for more than two decades, Dr. Gerald Maher, Mahercor Laboratories (www.mahercorlabs.com) has developed an innovative mouth guard, The Maher Mouth Guard, which aids in the prevention of concussions for all athletes participating in contact sports, from professionals to youth players.

    href=”http://www.mahercorlabs.com/” alt=”Link to website”>While a concussion policy in the league has been instituted to prevent players from being forced back onto the field without regard to their health, prevention seems to be the solution in the long run, at least to me
    Dr. Maher says that the current NFL-approved helmet chin strap directly contributes to concussions that arise from a blow to the jaw. It compacts the end of the jawbone against the skull and increases the likelihood of the bone striking the temporal lobe of the brain, increasing the symptoms of dizziness, the sensation of seeing stars and headaches commonly known as a “ding.”

    The Maher Mouth Guard helps reduce the chances of suffering from a concussion. The implementation of this properly-fitted mouth guard with the prescribed thickness separates the mandible (lower jaw) from the maxilla (upper jaw). This limits the chance of obtaining a concussion via a direct blow to the jaw. This, as well as wearing properly fitted protective head gear and chin straps allows for the utmost protection from dangerous head trauma.

    Duffy’s articles in the Examiner.com and Huffington Post center on the questions surrounding the seemingly inexplicable lack of interest by the NFL to study and approve Dr. Maher’s product which is already successfully used by the New England Patriots, numerous high school and college athletic programs, individual NFL players and a number of boxing, hockey and lacrosse professionals.

    A seven year old NFL study with data that is even older (1996-2001) cites an incidence of .41 concussions per game every week during the football season. Duffy’s concern is for players not aware of the anecdotal evidence about the Maher Mouth Guard waiting for the league or their union to give the nod to a product for on-field use. Duffy believes solutions such as those offered by Mahercor Laboratories should be immediately evaluated for use by athletes at risk.

    Things may in fact be starting to happen. Researchers recently presented statistical evidence (http://www.mahercorlabs.com/studies.htm) of athletes treated for Temporomandibular (jaw) Disorders (TMD) prior to the fitting of the (Maher) orthotic appliance at the largest collection of concussion experts in the world, the 2008 FIFA International Conference on Concussion in Sport in Zurich Switzerland. This may be the forum needed to fully understand the relevance and benefits of these procedures.

    “While a concussion policy in the league has been instituted to prevent players from being forced back onto the field without regard to their health, prevention seems to be the solution in the long run, at least to me,” stated Duffy.

    Mahercor Laboratories product line includes The Maher Standard Mouth Guard (LEVEL I), an introductory maxillary stabilizing mouth guard designed for someone involved in a sport where mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) from non-direct impacts to the face and jaw are to be expected. The Maher Intact Mouth Guard (LEVEL II) is designed for anyone involved in a sport where mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) from hard impacts to the face and jaws are to be expected. This mouth guard is composed of a multi-layered laminated EVA material to enhance tooth protection and a patent pending posterior occusal rim to improve condyle disk relationship to lessen the potential for concussions. The Maher B-Protect Splint (LEVEL III) is designed to position the condyle-disc assembly into the optimum position to resist concussive forces.

    Since its development, no NFL Player wearing any products in The Mahercor Laboratories product line has ever succumbed to a concussion from a blow to the jaw.