Category Archives: concussion

CTE is NOT a Laughing Matter

When I saw the logo for The Opening, I was stunned. Speechless is a state you find me almost never. But…

What can you possibly say about a group using a death skull inside of a football helmet as their logo? The Opening describes themselves as “four days of dynamic competition for the nation’s most elite high school football prospects”. 

With all we currently know about CTE and what causes it, using a logo like this is a mockery of the truth of what can happen to youth football players whether they are elite players or the average kid who starts playing a collision sport at the age of eight or younger. Risk everything? Really?

Horrifying.

Sponsors of these events are Nike and Riddell. Speechless again. These are groups who know  what is going on with concussion in football. Why would they choose such an image? 

So I’m writing a blog post today when I really can’t even adequately express how I feel about the fact that large companies, who should know better, would chose such an image to portray their product. 

We need to protect our children’s brains, not risk everything! Everything is a life or death issue. CTE IS life or death and it’s real and it shouldn’t be mocked or belittled. People are losing their sons and daughters due to collisions sports being played with no regard to the fact that a concussion is a brain injury and should be treated accordingly. 

Be aware! For more information about concussion and CTE, visit StopCTE.org. Also, if you are a parent or parent group interested in stopping repetitive brain trauma in youth sports, please join the Save Your Brain Campaign

 

 

 

Keeping Athletes Safe in Sports

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I was excited to learn last week that Chris Nowinski was coming to Oklahoma to speak about the concussion crisis. Chris is the founder of  the Concussion Legacy Foundation and, while I’ve interacted with him on twitter, I hadn’t ever met him in real life. I was also interested to learn what he had to share.

Nowinski-press conference - OKATCFirst there was a press conference. Our current pending concussion legislation in Oklahoma was discussed. Chris said it was a good bill. That it took the best of already exciting bills and added some other, innovative ideas. It is expected to be signed by Governor Fallin this week.

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Then it was time for his presentation Solving the Concussion Crisis: Keeping Athletes Safe in Sports. Chris talked about how concussions are an invisible injury that one can play through. They don’t cause pain, like a broken limb, and the symptoms are difficult to diagnose. Nearly one in four concussions are caused by head to ground impact. 

Many times, the athletes don’t want to report their symptoms because they don’t want to appear weak or let their team down. In a survey, when concussions were called a “ding” more athletes reported having experienced one. 

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About the problem, Nowinski said not a whole lot can be done about the problem if we keep hitting people in the head so much. 

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From his presentation, it was easy to see that education and more understand are key to at least moving in the right direction in the concussion crisis. It was an honor to meet Chris Nowinski.

 

Awesome engagement!

snapcode_pinkSnapchat is such a great platform to me. Although it’s my smallest network, it’s definitely my most engaged network. Yesterday, I had a lengthy discussion with a woman in The Netherlands about concussion and CTE. This morning, I had a new follower who coaches football for first and second graders in Texas. I talked to him about CTE and Flag Until 14. I even had one person who follows me be so interested that I was working against CTE that he googled me and found out I was a powerlifter as he is! So, anyway, I love snapchat. smile emoticon

Listen To Your Mother Rehearsal

We had our first rehearsal for Listen To Your Mother this past Saturday at the American Banjo Museum in Bricktown, OKC. 

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What an amazing get together! I met my fellow cast members and heard their stories. There were tears and laughter and friendships being made. I can’t wait for the world to see our show. It’s going to be held on May 1 and the Will Rogers Theater in Oklahoma City at 3 p.m.  This is when you will hear our stories as we read them. Tickets are already on sale

Here’s a video showing pieces of our first rehearsal and giving more information about the event itself.

My story is my why. The explanation of why I feel it’s my mission to let every person in the world know that it’s not “just” a concussion and that helmets don’t protect against concussion.
 
I hope you’ll join us! I feel humbled to be included among such amazing people. 🙂 

 

Save Your Brain

I was honored to be included on a trip to Washington DC last week with the Patrick Risha CTE Awareness Foundation for Brain Injury Awareness Day. 

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I chose to work with this group because Patrick’s story is so similar to my son’s story and I felt drawn to them. It was wonderful to meet Karen Zegel and her husband, Doug. They are passionate about the issue of stopping CTE and concussion safety for youth athletes. 

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We all got together at the hotel the night before and I heard the stories of the collected women. Some had lost sons to CTE and some had lost husbands. It was all very sad and it made me even more sure that I was on the right path in my quest to inform anyone and everyone I come into contact with that it’s not “just” a concussion and that helmets do not protect the brain against concussion. 

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Debbie Ploetz’s story was one that made me realize that even if everything seems okay for now, somewhere along the line, the result of all the concussive and/or subconcussive hits, may take its toll. Greg Ploetz died from CTE. Here’s the video:

 


  

The next morning, we all met at the Cannon House Office Building for breakfast and to get to know each other. 

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Then it was on to the Brain Injury Awareness Fair. I walked around the room to see what people were there to showcase. I shared with each person my own personal quest and got some very good ideas of ways in which I can proceed and reach more people.

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I was so happy to meet and speak with Mike Haynes. Mike is a pro football Hall of Fame corner back. The exciting thing is that he never played football until he was a sophomore in high school. Not only is he is in the Hall of Fame, his brain is okay!

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I had a meeting with my Congressman’s legislative aide. In the end, we weren’t able to meet with the person we were supposed to meet with but we were able to share our concerns with another of his staffers. I’ll be following up with the Congressman, though, because this is too important to just leave to chance that he will hear about if from someone who isn’t me. 

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Some members of our group had really great and positive sounding meetings with their representatives. It became apparent that it will take us some time and that we must bring even more interested people with us as we continue to strive for a legalized standard of care for concussion in youth sports. While it may take some time, I know that we will achieve our goal blow by blow, one step at a time.

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If you know of any parent groups that are interested in safety in youth sports, particularly with regard to concussion and brain safety, please have them join with us on the Save Your Brain facebook page

 

 

Beauty Secrets from a Clown

I’ve spent the past couple of days hanging out in the Safety Station with the Tulsa Fire Department at the Akdar Shrine Circus promoting my platform of concussion safety for kids.

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It’s a circus  so, of course, there are clowns. I love clowns. So happy and fun! 

The first clown I met and actually spoke to was Noze. We had a deep discussion about lipstick. Because, you see, he has the most fabulous, sparkly, red lips!

I asked him, “So where do you get your lipstick?”

He looked at me as if he was sizing me up. Trying to decide, should I tell her? Finally, he responded, “I make it myself.”

“Really? How do you do that?” I asked him, with excitement. I really need to have some of that lipstick and couldn’t wait to learn how to make it.

“Well,” Noze said, “I use red lipstick, then I put glitter glue on top of that, and then add red glitter.”

Hmm…. I was thinking. Glitter glue. Glue????

“So how do you get it off? How long does it take?” I asked him.

“I just use baby oil. It takes me an hour to put my face on but it takes me one minute to get it off.”

Whoa! That’s incredible! I was completely intrigued and clearly better informed for having had this conversation with Noze. Now, I’m off to buy some glitter glue. 😀

Talking about Concussion in Las Vegas

I was in Las Vegas with my sponsor Story Clothing Co. We were at the Stetson Country Christmas. I was able to talk to the people there about my new platform of Concussion Awareness.

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I was surprised that there were people who actually knew that, while a helmet can protect the skull from being fractured, a helmet cannot protect the brain from concussion. This fact was the big Aha! moment for me while reading the book Concussion

It was good to talk to people about this issue that has been so prevalent in my life for the past month while I’ve read everything I can get my hands on about concussion and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

While football is where my experience with my son’s concussions come from, I was able to share that concussions happen in so many other places and encourage the parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion. I was also able to explain how a concussion is more than just “getting his bell rung”. That there can be long term implications of repeated concussion and that the athlete should be fully healed before going back to the playing field. 

 

New Platform Direction: Concussion Awareness

When I decided to enter the Mrs. International Pageant, I was positive of what my platform should be. After all, I’ve been encouraging people to walk for health for over ten years now and it seemed a natural. Until I got my hands on an advance copy of the book Concussion (release date: 11/24/15).

I knew that the movie “Concussion”, starring Will Smith, would be coming out on Christmas Day and was eagerly looking forward to seeing it. When I learned I would get to read the book, I was thrilled. When I got it, I stayed up all night reading it until I was finished. What I read changed my life.

I decided to change my platform to Concussion Awareness. My reason for doing that is because of our oldest son. He started playing football when he was eight and went to Tulane University on a football scholarship. Before he got to college, he’d had at least one concussion. By the time he had a career ending neck injury at the beginning of his sophomore year of college, he’d had five concussions. I now believe the broken neck was blessing in disguise.

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After our son had his last concussion, the doctors at Tulane University Medical Center told us they felt he was fine to play but they would have him wear a high tech helmet that would provide him extra protection. I was happy with this. Even up until the beginning of college football season this year where it now looks like all players wear this helmet.

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Up until I read the book “Concussion” that says that no matter what kind of helmet an athlete is wearing, they will still be able to sustain a concussion because, although the helmet can stop the skull from being fractured, it cannot stop the brain from banging around inside of the skull in the cerebral fluid.

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Every time another NFL player takes his own life, and they indicate it was due to concussions, I pray that God will keep our son safe and, even if we never get to speak to him again, he will have a happy life.

What we know when we let our kids play football is that they may break an arm or a leg. We know about those kinds of injuries but no one talks about concussion. In our son’s case, he was a defensive lineman in college and played both sides of the ball all the years before college. The research indicates that the cumulative effect of all the subconcussive hits, the hits that a lineman receives on nearly every play as they go head to head with the other line, could be even worse.

Parents need to have this information and understand the potential outcome of multiple concussions. They need to be aware of the signs of concussion. I want to help get this word out.  

Would we have done anything differently if we had had this information? I can’t say. But at least we would have been making the most informed decision we could make because we would’ve had all the facts.

This isn’t just a football problem, either. Concussions happen in all sports. Football just happens to be the topic for the movie and my own experience. A place to start.

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I’ve chosen to work with the Patrick Risha CTE Awareness Foundation. When I read Patrick’s story, and it was so much like our son’s, I knew it was the place for me. 

While I will never stop telling you how great walking is for your heart, overall health, and even your marriage, I feel that making parents aware of the signs and effects of concussion is so very important. If I can stop one mom from feeling the way that I did when I learned that a helmet doesn’t really protect against a concussion at all, it will be worth it. 

You can learn more about concussion and CTE at the Foundation website www.StopCTE.org

 

Book Review: Concussion

ConcussionConcussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness. When I saw the trailer for this movie, I knew I had to see it. When I saw the opportunity to read the book, I jumped on it. I couldn’t stop reading it and stayed up all night to finish it.

This book is about Bennet Omalu, the man who discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which he found in the brain of a former NFL player, Mike Webster, who played for the Steelers. Omalu, from Nigera, comes to America to work with Cyril Wecht. He admires Wecht’s work and works hard. As long as he gets his work done, Wecht doesn’t mind if he studies brains. Every brain tells a story, he thinks. He feels like he can tell what happened to the person by reading the brain. It is because of this he eventually discovers CTE. He’s eventually able to study more former NFL player brains and is sure of his findings.

The book is about Omalu’s fight to get the word out about CTE against an eight billion dollar entertainment entity, the NFL.

If you have a child who plays sports, are a coach or a trainer, I highly recommend this book. It changed my life. The one most important thing I learned in this book is that helmets do not protect from concussion! When I read this, I felt like a child abuser because I felt my son was always protected because of his helmet.

Excellent, excellent book. I look forward to the movie.

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