Tag Archives: Health

Concussions In Lacrosse: “Lacrosse Magazine” Presents “In-Depth Q&A” With US Lacrosse Sports Science & Safety Experts On The “Biology, Risks, And Long-Term Implications Of Concussions”

Dr. Margot Putukian and Dr. Ruben Echemendia of the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee were among presenters at the International Consensus Conference on Concussions in Zurich, Switzerland.

Dr. Margot Putukian and Dr. Ruben Echemendia of the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee were among presenters at the International Consensus Conference on Concussions in Zurich, Switzerland

What is the biology of a concussion? What actually happens to the brain?

RE: A concussion creates changes in the chemistry of the brain that produces a “neuro-metabolic cascade” that renders cells temporarily inoperative and vulnerable to further injury. This metabolic cascade is accompanied by a disruption of the blood supply to the brain, thereby reducing the amount of glucose (fuel) available to the brain for healing. These changes affect the entire brain, not just one region.

What are the risks of playing with a concussion? What is second-impact syndrome?

MP: It is difficult to know the exact risks of continuing to play while concussed, but in the younger athlete, there has been a concern that a second insult can occur while the athlete is still recovering from a first injury, and that a dysregulation in the blood flow to the brain can then result, causing a significant increase in the pressure in the brain. Though considered controversial by some researchers, second-impact syndrome has been reported in youth athletes and associated with significant complications, including death.

RE: Continuing to play while having symptoms places the vulnerable brain at risk for additional injury that may lead to more severe, prolonged or even life-long problems with cognitive and psychological functioning. Second-impact syndrome is rare and thought to occur when an individual sustains a blow to the brain during a time when the brain has not fully recovered from a previous concussion. The blow can often be a relatively mild one.

Are there long-term health implications from concussions?

MP: The majority of concussions resolve in 10-14 days without any known long-term consequences. However, in a very small percentage, there are persistent symptoms and ongoing difficulties with cognitive function or balance.

RE: Some studies suggest there can be long-term changes in neurocognitive functioning; others do not. There is no consensus among experts in the field. The key appears to be appropriate evaluation and management of the injury.

What impact, if any, does age play in concussions?

MP: Younger athletes appear to take longer to recover and therefore should be treated with caution. Other modifiers that are associated with a prolonged recovery include an increased number and duration of symptoms and a history of prior concussion. Other modifiers that may play a role in prolonged recovery include a history of migraine headaches, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (or other learning disorders) and history of depression, anxiety or other mental health disorders.

Besides rest (physical and mental), what else can help recovery?

MP: An initial period of rest is important, and avoiding cognitive activity, such as texting, video games and extended computer work, also is important. After a few days, light exercise can be initiated assuming it doesn’t worsen symptoms. It’s unclear if other interventions are helpful in assisting recovery, but alcohol, aspirin, narcotics and other medications that impair cognitive function or increase bleeding are typically avoided in the first few days.

RE: It is very important that athletes with concussions remain well hydrated, maintain good nutritional habits and get plenty of sleep. Keep in mind that physical and cognitive rest does not mean placing the child in a cocoon. Typical activities of daily living, including school, should be added as soon as they are tolerated without producing an increase in symptoms.

What misperceptions about concussions do you encounter?

MP: One myth is that helmets prevent concussion. Though they are effective in preventing skull fracture and bleeds, and may lessen impact forces, they do not prevent concussion. Sometimes the assumption is that putting a helmet on an athlete will protect them, when it might not. In fact, if they have a false sense of security, they may play more aggressively and therefore be at a greater risk for injury. Another myth is that the greater the impact force, the more likely that a concussion will occur or the more severe the concussion. There is not enough research to support this, and what limited data we have actually suggests that concussive injury can occur with different levels of impact.

RE: Some people still believe that you need to lose consciousness or have serious memory impairment to have a concussion. Neither is true. Some believe that a concussion is a bruise to the brain; it is not. Many believe that you have to be hit hard or be hit on the head to have a concussion. Neither is true.

Can you comment on the effectiveness of neurocognitive (baseline) testing?

RE: Baseline testing can be very useful in establishing the pre-injury functioning of the athlete. If available, athletes should take advantage of baseline testing. However, baseline testing sometimes creates significant complexity in the evaluation of an athlete’s cognitive functioning. Because of this complexity, a qualified neuropsychologist should interpret any neuropsychological testing.

MP: The utility of baseline computerized neuropsychological testing has recently been questioned. Although it appears to promising, there are several factors to consider in NP testing including the effects of fatigue, injury and motivation.

What are your opinions on the return-to-play laws that have been passed in 49 states and D.C.?

MP: The Zack Lystedt Law passed in Washington State was the first of many that have raised the awareness of the importance of this injury as well as the importance of removing athletes from play when signs and symptoms of concussion are present.

RE: These laws are a good first step towards raising awareness and providing basic guidelines for the management of concussion. The laws are not uniform across states, and hence some are better than others.

US Lacrosse contends there yet no scientific evidence to suggest helmets prevent concussions. Do you adhere to this position?

RE: Yes, this is accurate. Helmets are designed to prevent catastrophic head injury, and they are very good at doing that. They just were not designed to, and do not, prevent concussion.

MP: We need to explore the effects of various headgear options and continue to investigate the mechanisms of injury in lacrosse for both the men’s and women’s game, and evaluate interventions that can decrease injury — including rule changes, rule enforcement, coaches and player education. Whether future equipment modifications can prevent or lessen the severity of injury remains unanswered at this time.

Do you have other recommendations from the conference in Zurich?

MP: There has been a lot of research regarding the assessment and management of concussion that has led to a more cautious approach to this important injury. There are advanced neuroimaging techniques which show promise in demonstrating functional and structural injury with concussion. There also has been a significant amount of information regarding the acceleration forces that occur in different sports that quantify the number, extent and location of forces to the head with sport.

RE: Thus far we have focused a great deal of attention, effort and money on baseline testing but have not focused much on the post-injury evaluation, which is in many ways far more crucial. It is imperative that any athlete with a concussion be evaluated by a qualified medical professional who is specifically trained in the evaluation and management of this injury. The use of a multidisciplinary team of professionals — physicians, neuropsychologists and athletic trainers — is ideal.

For more:  http://laxmagazine.com/genrel/100713_what_is_a_concussion_q_and_a_with_us_lacrosse_experts

Head Injuries In Lacrosse: “Concussion 101: Symptoms, Risk And Return To Play” From The Houston Methodist Concussion Center (Video)

Each year, approximately 3.8 million Americans suffer concussions & many of those injured are student athletes. Hear from experts at the Houston Methodist Concussion Center & Houston professional sports teams as they share the signs & symptoms of concussion & what you can do to help prevent head injuries.

Lacrosse Injuries: “Decompression Nerve Surgery” Is A New Treatment For Severe “Post-Concussion Headaches”; Minimally Invasive Procedure Has Up To 95% Success Rate For Young Athletes

“…Soccer is definitely high, and basketball, lacrosse, football obviously, as well.  And believe it or not, even cheerleaders can have that with falls and direct head  injuries… surgery is an option if the Concussion Legislationheadaches persist after three months of  traditional treatment and a full neurological evaluation…the surgery is remarkably effective and has been successful in 95  percent of the kids he has treated…”

“What is absolutely astonishing is to take somebody who literally can’t study,  can’t work, can’t function normally, can’t live without medications, to be able to  have more than 90 percent of success is truly amazing,” he says.

It wasn’t the first time Hollie Byer was hit in the head  while playing soccer. But this concussion was very different. The 18-year-old from Olney, Maryland started having terrible headaches that would  not go away. The pain lasted for months — through doctor visits and traditional  drug therapy.

Peripheral Nerve InstituteThen, her neurologist, Dr. Kevin Crutchfield, started talking about something new.    The Baltimore-based physician sent her to Dr. Ivan Ducic, director of the  Peripheral Nerve Surgery Institute at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital.

Ducic is pioneering what some consider a radical idea to treat post-concussion  headaches caused by nerve damage. His approach is a new twist on an existing  procedure used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome.

Using tiny incisions, Ducic moves aside or slightly shaves tissue that is pressing  on the damaged nerve. He says it is like unbuttoning a shirt or tie that is so  tight around the neck, it restricts breathing.

“The surgery technically undoes the pressure on the nerves so the nerve can  function back again normally,” he says.

Ducic explains that decompression nerve surgery only takes about 60 to 90 minutes,   is almost always done on an out-patient basis and is considered minimally  invasive, requiring only a few stitches and no hair loss.

After receiving the treatment, Byer was able to return home the same day as the  procedure. She says the headaches went away almost immediately.

For more:  http://www.wtop.com/267/3329570/Relieving-concussion-related-headaches

Lacrosse Injuries: “Advocates For Injured Athletes” Promotes “Sports Safety” Through Essential Support And Education For The Injured Athlete

Advocates for Injured Athletes is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting student athletes. Our mission is to promote sports safety and to provide essential support, education, and resources to the injured athlete. http://injuredathletes.org/

Lacrosse Injuries: Study Shows Eye Injuries In Women’s Lacrosse Drop “Dramatically” After 2004 US Lacrosse Requirement For Protective Eye Gear

In 2005, after urgings from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and other groups, US Lacrosse required that girls and women wear eye protection.

Four of the five injuries that occurred after the eyewear requirement happened while the girls were not wearing the protective gear. The fifth injury involved eye inflammation.

“I am impressed, but not surprised,” said Dr. Stuart Dankner, a pediatric ophthalmologist who sits on the eye safety committee of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Dankner, who was not involved in the new study, said that eye protection has reduced injuries in hockey, baseball and other sports.

“It’s just a shame that it took so long” to become mandated for women’s lacrosse, he added.

Men’s lacrosse, which is considered a collision sport, introduced eye gear before the women’s game, which is a non-contact sport.

Dankner told Reuters Health that he has treated cases of severe eye injury among girls who played lacrosse, either from getting smacked with the stick, colliding with another player, or getting hit with the ball.

The new study, funded by US Lacrosse, tracked eye injuries among 25 high school girls lacrosse teams for four years before the mandate and six years after the mandate.

From 2000 to 2003, there were 22 eye injuries, and from 2004 to 2009 there were just five. That corresponds to one injury per player per 10,000 practices and games versus 1.6 per 100,000.

Four of the five injuries that occurred after the eyewear requirement happened while the girls were not wearing the protective gear. The fifth injury involved eye inflammation.

“As long as the athletes are wearing it seems to be doing what we hope it would,” said lead author Andrew Lincoln, the director of sports medicine research at MedStar Health Research Institute in Baltimore.

Other injuries to the face and head also went down, from 33 before the mandate to 21 after.

For more:  http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/15/us-eye-injuries-down-idUSTRE7BE1PQ20111215

Lacrosse Helping Its Own: Senior Cazenovia (NY) High School Girls Lacrosse Player Taylor Matt Is In Need Of A Bone Marrow Transplant (Video)

Taylor Matt is a senior at Cazenovia (NY) High School and plays for the Cazenovia Varsity Lacrosse team and for the ethix Girls Lacrosse Club. Taylor, a great defender on the field, has leukemia. She has been in remission for five years, but unfortunately her Leukemia has returned.

Because she has been through chemotherapy before, she spends her time talking with and comforting the younger patients that are going through chemo for the first time. That is the kind of person Taylor is, always helping others, trying to lessen their pain and comfort them when they are afraid.

Taylor needs a bone marrow transplant. The doctors have searched the Be The Match Registry and there is currently no match for Taylor.

Part of the difficulty may be Taylor’s Native American heritage, she is 1/4 American Indian.

Racial and ethnic heritage are very important factors in determining a bone marrow match. Because the markers used in matching are inherited, patients are most likely to match someone of their own race or ethnicity.

Today, there simply aren’t enough registry members of diverse racial and ethnic heritage. Adding more diverse members increases the likelihood that all patients will find the life-saving match they need.

Your heritage can make all the difference. If you are from one of the following communities, you are especially encouraged to join the Be The Match Registry. * Black and African American * American Indian and Alaska Native * Asian, including South Asian * Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander * Hispanic and Latino * Multiple race

Sadly, 81% of American Indians do not receive bone marrow transplants within the critical first six months and ultimately not get the life-saving marrow transplant they need. Of the 7 million people on the registry, only 80,000 are American Indian.

The circle of life starts with you.

You have the power to heal, the power to save a life.

To schedule a bone marrow drive in honor of Taylor and the thousands of other patients searching for a life-saving match, please go here. http://giftoflifeonline.org/request/

US Lacrosse and Cardiac Science Provide Grant to Make AED’s (Automatic External Defibrillators) Affordable for Lacrosse Programs

cardiac science

US LacrosseUS Lacrosse is playing a leading role in ongoing research and is committed to educating the national lacrosse community about the life-saving value of having Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) available during lacrosse games and practices. In order to achieve that goal, US Lacrosse, the national governing body of the sport, and Cardiac Science, a leading manufacturer of cardiology products, are offering an AED grant program which provides an AED and comprehensive management of AED and CPR training to lacrosse leagues or US Lacrosse chapters. 

 “This new component of our strategic alliance with Cardiac Science is focused on increasing awareness of the value and accessibility of AEDs to the national lacrosse community,” said Steve Stenersen, president and CEO of US Lacrosse.  “Having an AED on the sideline is a risk management best-practice that we want every lacrosse program to consider strongly.”

 “US Lacrosse is at the forefront of helping to prevent the approximately 365,000 deaths per year that are due to sudden cardiac arrest – 7,000 of them among the young,” said Mike Brode, Cardiac Science director of strategic business. “Commotio cordis is the second leading cause of sudden cardiac death in school athletes and US Lacrosse is taking extraordinary measures to ensure their sport stands out in terms of safety by working to ensure AEDs are available where their members play and train. They serve as a model.”

 Commotio cordis is a rare but potentially catastrophic phenomenon that can result in sudden cardiac arrest. Commotio cordis can occur when a blunt, but often relatively mild blow to the area of the chest directly over the heart occurs during a precise moment of the heart’s cycle, leading to sudden cardiac arrest. Examples of the blunt object may include: baseball, lacrosse ball, hockey puck, fist, shoulder or knee. According to the American Heart Association, defibrillation within three minutes of sudden cardiac arrest raises the chance of survival to 70-percent. When a shock is delivered within one minute, survival rates can increase from 5-percent to as much as 86-percent in some cases.

 AEDs made available through this program offer the following benefits:

  •  Powerheart AEDs are dependable, easy-to-use defibrillators.
  • Rescue Ready®  technology self-tests all main components including the battery, hardware, software, and pads daily to ensure anytime functionality.
  • RescueCoach™ voice prompts and CPR metronome guide users through a very stressful rescue situation.
  • The AED device knows when to, and when not to deliver a shock.
  • A text screen lends extra help in noisy and chaotic environments.
  • The AED unit has a 7-year warranty and a 4-year full operational battery replacement guarantee.

US Lacrosse member groups and chapters can apply for the US Lacrosse/Cardiac Science AED grant program by visiting http://www.uslacrosse.org/programs/AEDgrantprogram.phtml. Deadline to submit an application is November 30, 2009.

 Cardiac Science is a global leader in the development, manufacture, and marketing of diagnostic and therapeutic cardiology products and services. The company provides a full spectrum of cardiology products and services that help protect hearts and save lives. To learn more about Cardiac Science, please visit www.cardiacscience.com.

 US Lacrosse, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, is the national governing body for men’s and women’s lacrosse. US Lacrosse has more than 300,000 members in 62 regional chapters around the country. Through responsive and effective leadership, US Lacrosse strives to provide programs and services to inspire participation while protecting the integrity of the game. To learn more about US Lacrosse, please visit www.uslacrosse.org.

 # # # 

Media Contacts:                                                         

Colleen Sperry Aungst                                                 

Public Relations Manager, US Lacrosse

410-235-6882 ext. 155                                                   



Michael Brode

Director of Strategic Business, Cardiac Science


Lacrosse Health And Safety: Lacrosse Coaches, Players And Parents Should Be Alert To Skin Infections, Including “MRSA” Staph Infections, And Lacrosse Gear Should Be Regularly Cleaned

The opponent you see on the lacrosse field might not be the only opponent you have to battle against when you play lacrosse.  The spread of staph and MRSA infections in athletic programs - especially contact sports such as lacrosse – is epidemic in Southern California.

The opponent you see on the lacrosse field might not be the only opponent you have to battle against when you play lacrosse. The spread of staph and MRSA infections in athletic programs - especially contact sports such as lacrosse – is epidemic in Southern California.

 (Article contributed to LaxBuzz by Maria Dennis)

What is a staph or MRSA infection?

Staphylococcus aureus are bacteria commonly found on many healthy people’s skin without doing any harm, but sometimes the bacteria can make people sick or cause skin infections. The real danger happens if the staph bacteria have grown resistant to antibiotics. This type of staph is called “MRSA,” which stands for “Methicillan-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus.” Most staph infections manifest as pimples, rashes, or boils (accompanied by redness, swelling, pain, or pus-like drainage); however, pneumonia or bloodstream infections may occur. Because it is resistant to common antibiotics, MRSA can go one step further and cause even more serious illness, or even death. MRSA is becoming more common, especially in athletics and schools and, in fact, MRSA kills more people in this country than AIDS – a scary statistic!

How can you protect yourself from MRSA? The easiest way to prevent MRSA infections is to practice good sports hygiene. Super Clean, a Southern California sports equipment cleaning company, has designed a public awareness campaign to educate the athletic community about MRSA. Maria Dennis, co-owner of Super Clean and creator of the health campaign, felt that in order to prevent children from falling victim to a senseless and often brutal MRSA infection, people needed to be armed with information. “If you just follow these five simple rules as part of our ‘Hygiene Initiative For Sports’ or ‘H.I. Five Sports’ campaign, you will have taken important steps to safeguard yourself and those you love from MRSA,” Dennis states. The five rules are: 

1. Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
2. Cover all scrapes, cuts or open wounds (so that bacteria cannot enter the body).
3. Do not share personal items (such as towels, bars of soap, razors).

4. Clean your protective equipment regularly (shoulder pads, gloves, helmets, arm pads, cleats).

5. Do not ignore the warning signs of illness (seek medical attention immediately).

 With regard to the fourth rule, we advise people to bring their gear to Super Clean (www.supercleangear.com) because we have convenient locations all over Southern California and our cleaning processes are proven to kill 99.9% of all bacteria, viruses, mold, and other pathogens that live in smelly lacrosse gear, but even if the athlete just airs out his gear, it is better than nothing because bacteria love to grow in dark, warm, moist places,” Dennis advises. And what about the smell? “When equipment smells, it means that bacteria have multiplied and are living inside and on the surface of the materials. That is your indicator that your gear needs to be disinfected.” For more information, visit http://www.supercleangear.com.

 By educating yourself about MRSA and following the simple rules of “H.I. Five Sports”, you will be able to play and enjoy the great game of lacrosse without worrying about a staph or MRSA infection. For more information, please contact your healthcare professional.

superclean gear logo Maria Dennis, a native of Connecticut, played varsity lacrosse in prep school at The Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, CT and went on to play the sport for four years at Yale University.  Dennis also played ice hockey and holds the all-time scoring record at Yale. While Dennis attended law school at Georgetown University, she won a Silver Medal as a member of the US women’s national ice hockey team which competed in the World Championships held in Ottawa, Ontario in 1990.  She currently resides in Los Angeles, where she practices law, coaches youth sports, and operates Super Clean.