Sloan Sports Conf- Nowinski: 90% of Concussions Undiagnosed; 75% of Football Head Trauma At Practice

MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Sat. March 3, 2012. Presenter: Chris Nowinski of the Sports Legacy Institute: How New Concussion Technology Will Force Radical Change in Sports 

Nowinski’s presentation was not highly attended, which might have been expected for a largely medical topic set amongst geeks and sport-entertainment execs and admins. Nowinski emphasized how little we still know, pointing out that we currently diagnose 2-10% of concussions. 75% of college football concussions occur in practice, one reason why the Ivies have restricted “hitting” at their practices. Nowinski also raised issues about “sub-concussive” hits which he says are currently undetectable.

While Nowinski’s work is ground-breaking –even extraordinary– the field risks some of the “over-stepping” which was common to later-stage asbestos-injury medical practices. The discussion unfortunately overlooked the revolutionary impact on sport which lurks everywhere (and which, I’m sure, has propelled Roger Goodell to go “out front” on this issue): that gradual concussion-injury workers’ compensation claims will overrun so many of these pro sports teams – and will also potentially revolutionize the college sport realm by rulings which find student-athletes to have employment status.

Selected Tweets are below:
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Nowinski: BU “brain bank” now has collected more than 105 brains, including those from more than 35 NFL players
“FACT: We are terrible at diagnosing concussions.”- Chris Nowinski

How do we not destroy the brains of the next generation of athletes?” This is the sort of question I came here to have answered.
Concussion dude Chris Nowinski: “It was ridiculous to see Kobe Bryant back in three days after he was concussed.
“We are probably diagnosing between 2-10% concussions in sport.” – Nowinski
Nowinski: If we get really good at diagnosing concussions, “you would have one out of five athletes out at all times.
Concussions aren’t only problem. Sub-concussive hits that are currently undetectable are problematic long-term.
Nowinski and #NFL hoping to push for “hit count” (like pitch count in little league) with mandatory days of rest once you max out.
“I live in a world where a kid’s brain is more important than his elbow, yet Little League has pitch counts one on hand, and don’t have any count
Sport (esp. youth) will radically change as we better measure exposure and consequences of brain trauma
75% of head trauma in college football occurs in practice, why ivy league limits contact at practice to twice a week
Nowinski’s response to technology/helmets “people who initiate hit should feel some pain too” Perhaps they’ll rethink some of their hits

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About brewonsouthu

Michigan and Big Ten fan, former lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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