Archive for November 2010

Football and Concussions by Lisa Furber

November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving is here and the holidays will swiftly be upon us. I spent some time thinking about what I am thankful for…my family and friends, my health, spending quality time with my children, and enjoying the fellowship of the season. When I think about how I will be spending Thanksgiving, I will be doing a lot of cooking and of course, a lot of eating. It is also a tradition at my house to watch many of the NFL football games which will be televised throughout the day. I will cheer on my favorite teams and route for the underdogs. While the physical nature of the sport can make the game very interesting and even exciting, it makes it very dangerous for the players. One of the most dangerous and long lasting injuries suffered by football players is concussion and head injury.
I invite you to check out several news articles featured in the New York Times about football and head injury. The articles can be found online at Let’s all still enjoy the game, but, hopefully, we can also advocate to make the sport safer for the players.


GPS addict? It may be eroding your brain by Devon Dorman

November 22, 2010

Three studies by McGill University researchers presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience on Sunday show that the way we navigate the world today may indeed affect just how well our brains function as we age.

The Unseen Effects By Kati Capitan

November 12, 2010

You are standing in line at the checkout counter at your local grocery store.  There is a young lady in front of you, maybe 24 years old, attempting to count out change to the store clerk.  Someone sighs impatiently.  There is a long line of people behind you also glaring at the distraught girl.  She loses her place counting and, blushing, starts over.  She drops her handful of change.  A few people grunt in disgust and head for another line.  A man in the back of the line asks jokingly, “I wonder what high school she graduated from?”  The girl scrambles to pick her coins up.  “Can I help you so we can get these other people moving,” asks the clerk sharply.  The girl nods, smiling weakly.  She gives an embarrassed peek at the impatient faces staring at her as she hands her change to the clerk, who quickly counts out the coins.  The girl looks down; avoiding eye contact as she collects her bags and heads out the door.

What would your reaction be?

What if I told you that this girl was the survivor of an auto accident caused by a reckless driver?  What if I told you she sustained a head injury that left her in a coma for over 3 weeks?  What if I told you that over the course of 2 years she had to relearn how to speak, eat, walk, and dress herself?  What if I told you that her parents clap and pray over every small life success she achieves?  What if I told you she had already learned to speak 3 languages in her first few years of college?   What if I told you she recently learned her “team” decided that it is best she not return to college?  What if I told you she wakes every morning, cries, and then washes her face and commits to the challenge of a new day?  What if I told you her mother was waiting anxiously in the car, hoping to hear that her shopping trip went ok?  What if I told you the girl’s father had called three times during the girl’s 10 minute shopping trip to make sure all was ok?  What if I told you the girl put up her chin and resolved to come back to the grocery store tomorrow and try again.

What would your reaction be?

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) presents itself in many ways.  Survivors might be in a wheelchair, or might use a walker.  Survivors might speak with slurred words, as though intoxicated.  Survivors might have physical scars or wear a helmet.  Survivors might also look completely normal – because the injury is not of a leg, or hand, or tongue – it is in the brain itself.  Difficulty focusing, difficulty with executive planning, headaches, memory loss, and other effects of brain injury are invisible to a casual observer, and often seen as a character flaw of the brain injury survivor.  Some survivors feel it is necessary to broadcast their injuries as an explanation of the effects of the injury.  The wives of returning soldiers with brain injury have admitted to shaving their husbands’ heads so that trauma scars would be visible explanations of the brain injury.  Some survivors and their families choose not to go out in public for fear of the added trauma of ridicule.

Each of us has a choice in how we interact with others.  Survivors of brain injury are, in more ways than not, just like you and I.  Whether a survivor of brain injury or not, each of us struggles with our own challenges.  We also interact daily with hundreds of others engaged in their own struggles.  We may never know the story of a young man crying uncontrollably at the airport or the story of a middle-aged woman still living with her parents.   While it is part of human nature to judge, it is also part of human nature to show compassion and to feel empathy for others.  A smile or nod of encouragement can lift someone’s spirits as easily as a harsh glare or snide comment can wound the soul.  Brain injury is not selective – it can happen to anyone at any time.  It could affect the best of us, our veterans, our athletes, our scholars.  The girl in this story could be your daughter, sister, wife, mother, cousin, or best friend.  It could be a stranger you meet tomorrow.

What will your reaction be?

A plea for Bicycle Helmet Use by Shammah Bermudez

November 8, 2010

This week a local college student died from head injuries sustained in a bicycle crash. He was mountain biking at a local park, when he went over the handlebars and crashed head first into a tree. He was not wearing a helmet. After being airlifted to a local trauma center, he slipped into a coma and died the next day. Sadly, his life could have been saved with a $20 investment in a bicycle helmet.

While I wish I could say that this is incident doesn’t happen a lot, it is simply not the case. According to the Center for Disease control and the Brain Injury Association of America, approximately 900 people are killed in bicycle crashes annually, with 200 of them being under the age of 15. In a study by the CDC, in 1987 813 bicyclists were killed in crashes. Of these 97% were not wearing helmets. 

            Bicycle Helmet use has increased, but not enough. I see far to many people riding bicycles without helmets. Weather you are a child, teenage, or adult, recreational or serious cyclist, a helmet should be part of your safety gear. In the state of Pennsylvania it is a law that any child under the age of 12 must wear a helmet.

            This college student’s life ended suddenly and without warning. He probably never gave wearing a helmet a second thought. I imagine he figured he had never crashed before so he didn’t need one. He leaves behind two parents who wont get to see there son graduate, and a sister who no longer has an older brother to look up to.

Please wear a helmet next time you ride a bike.