New career?

A lot is happening in the world right now regarding Sport Related Concussions (SRC). People are aware of the increasing number of ice-hockey players who quit their careers due to brain injuries, Will Smith is the star of the 2015 movie 'Concussion' where Dr. Bennet Omalu discovers a new disease, CTE (Cronic traumatic Encephalopathy) and the NFL are reviewing their rules regarding impact to the head.

At the same time I´m trying my best to do my part in all of this. I have gotten the chance to stand in front of an audience at three different occusions in one month, sharing my story and informing others about the seriousness of SRCs. 
Of these three occusions, the second was of greatest importance. I was invited by the Swedish Karate Federation, to speak in front of 20 medical doctors who will work at karate competitions in Sweden. At the same event the well known Dr. Yelverton Tegner shared his knowledge and experience. 

A lot of things are happening right now and I will continue lecturing as much as I can. Soon in a few weeks, I will get a chance to stand in front of a new audience, an audience I was once part of a few years ago, completely unaware of the danger of concussions. 
The story continues... 

Who is responsible?

Part 2 of my interview with Yelverton Tegnér.
The sport related concussions are increasing. But who is responsible? The trainers? The Athletes? Doctors? Parents?
Yelverton told me a fearsome story:
"I have always been aware of how serious the sport related concussions really are, but this haven´t always been positively met. Many years after it has happend I´ve been told by athletes that they, after they had sustained a concussion, been told by their trainer not to tell the doctor (me) what had happened. They had been told to shut their mouth and keep quiet or else they wouldn´t be allowed to keep playing due to their brain injury."
Not many people actually know what goes on in inside the skull when a concussion accure. Yelverton explained that aswell:
"It all depends on how much force that finds its way into the skull. Some hits aren´t hard enough to injure the brain. But what happens during a concussion is that nerv cells in the brain breaks. When they break they secretes a poisonous substans that kills nearby nerv cells."
"The scary part is that you are not good to go after a concussion even when you don´t have any symptoms anymore. When you lose brain activity in one part of the brain due to a concussion other parts of your brain takes responsibilty for the lost parts. In this way it can appear as if the person is good to go and that there are no further damage to the brain. But in reality the brain injury is still there, you just can´t see it." 
Before this interview I had written many emails to Dr Tegnér regarding the increasing concussion statistics at the same time as most players in most sports are wearing more and more protection gear. Yelverton are seeing a clear pattern between the increasing number of brain injuries and players wearing more protection gear:
"When you are putting on as much gear as a knight you start doing things that you otherwise would never do. If there is no risk of feeling any pain, players will try to use their bodies in situations that would seriously hurt them if they were not wearing their gear. Earlier in ice-hockey we saw a lot of injuries on elbows and shoulders. But when the new elbow and shoulder protection came, those kinds of injuries almost disappeard, but the players started using their shoulders and elbows for other purposes and that could possibly be one of the factors that have increased the number of concussions in sport.
" you have to ask yourself what fully recovered means. I say that a single concussion is probably not very dangerous. But the danger is in the repeated hits to the head, that is what kills the brain. I was the doctor for the famous ice-hockey player Cam Abbott that after he had sustained a concussion was taken out of play for 450 days and he had been free from symptoms for months before he started playing again but I had all this time told him that I wanted him to completely stop playing. After playing two more seasons Cam Abbott sustained a new concussion and his sport career was over. Sadly enough doctors can´t forbid players to keep playing or training. As far as I know it is only possible, as a doctor, to prevent athletes from keep going in sports like boxing, MMA and such. 
Dr. Yelverton finished our interview with a very sad message
"I am very worried about the future of some sports due to the increasing number of concussions in many of them. Do we really want our sons and daughters to keep playing a sport that eventually will result in a broken brain? If some sports don´t make some serious rule changes I have a hard time to imagine that the sport eventually will survive."
Big thank you Dr. Yelverton Tegnér for this interview!

Mr Concussion

A few months ago I had the privilege to interview Dr. Yelverton Tegner.
Dr. Yelverton Tegner aka Mr Concussion, born 1946, is a doctor and professor in sport medicine who has been working most of all in the Swedish town Luleå as a team doctor with Luleå ice hockey team. Yelverton has also been working with different national teams within football, basketball, ice hockey among other sports. His main focus has been on sport related concussions and brain injuries. 
Early years as a doctor
After he graduated from Med-school in Lund in south of Sweden he moved to Luleå, working with their adult hockey team, where he among his colleagues noticed how common it was that the players sustained concussions while playing. From there, they worked on a program to prevent these injuries as best as they could.

"In the 1980s you could only find 12-15 articles on concussions. Today there are thousands." - Yelverton said. 
When asked what the greatest problem is today regarding concussions Yelverton said:
- People don´t think it´s dangerous. They don´t know how dangerous it can be and how bad it can get.
Instead of using the term "concussion" (in swedish "hjärnskakning") I use the term "brain damage", because it is a brain damage, no matter how small people might think it is. 
Yelverton continued:
- The most dangerous part about concussions are the sub-concussive blows that the players are recieving. Those hits to the head that dosen´t feel dangerous but are hard enough to shake the brain inside. Even a person who says that he or she have never sustained a concussion can might aswell have injuried their brain through repetitive blows to their head during games and practices. After studying ice hockey players before and after their game season we have noticed that they have a worse brain activity afterwards
I wanted to know if the amount of concussions have decreased or increased during the last 10-30 years per player and game time. Yelverton answered:
- There is no question about it. The answer is yes! 
Players today are faster, stronger and more fit. This makes it more likely for them to produce more force in there tackles, punches and kicks. People do not respect the injury either.
Yelverton says he has overheard a lot of players telling their team mates to go for the head and harm the other players.
I wanted to know what Yelverton thought about the growing sport culture of MMA and boxing. I got a very historical and well thought answer:
- Boxers and MMA-fighters are our times gladiators. There has been a red line between when the gladiators fought in the arenas in Rome, the tournaments in 14th century Europe to the underground fighting clubs in England during the 18th and 19th century. This continues today in the form of boxing and MMA. 

The National Football Leauge
Mostly through the 2015 movie Concussion with Will Smith in the lead role where Will Smith playes Dr. Omalu who discovers a never seen brain disease in dead NFL-players, the questions about concussions in sport has rised rapidly in the United States. 
I asked Yelverton about the situation in NFL and if they knew long before the players did that there was a lot of sport related brain injuries in the NFL
- We never discussed it before the question erected with the new discovered disease in American football players. Those articles from the NFL that you could find before that proposed that concussions was not dangerous or that they didn´t occure at all in the NFL. 
Future doctors in Sweden
Yelverton also thinks that concussions aren´t discussed enough in Med-school:
- The only ones who seem to have knowledge about it are the experts, fx neurologists, but they are usually working with more difficult brain traumas than sport related concussions. When I was lecturing AT-doctors their jaws almost hit the floor when I told them how serious the situation really was. 
This was Part 1 of our interview. 
To be continued.

"I write this, not to prevent people from practicing a sport or martial art, but to teach how to practice it safely" - Victor Bull

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