Your Weekly Dose of #5ThoughtsFriday: A description of what we think is important at BIAMD
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This Article is part of BIAMD's Original Content Initiative, and will become a part of the Member Exclusive content available on the BIAMD Member Portal coming in late January.

Helmet Technology and Sports Safety Update from Sport Techie Pro Day
Catherine Rinehart Mello
As part of my public policy role at the Brain Injury Association of Maryland, I attended Sport Techie Pro Day so that our organization is up to date on the latest regulations as well as emerging technologies to address the risk for damage to the brain in sports. The event brought together a panel of experts to discuss the intersection of helmet technology, helmet performance testing, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and concussion.

With awareness of the impact of concussions and CTE on the rise in professional sports , more research and investments are going into developing better helmets to protect the skulls and brains of athletes at all levels. Football players started wearing leather helmets in the early 1900s. Later helmets were made of rigid plastic, then face mask s and padding were added to reduce the risk of skull fracture and catastrophic injuries. Research does show that that modern helmets are effective in reducing the risk of these injuries. Experts do not agree about whether we can conclusively say that modern helmets reduce the risk of concussion or CTE. 

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a chronic, degenerative disease of the brain that develops in some individuals who sustain repeated blows to the head. It is characterized by the buildup of tau proteins in the brain and can only be diagnosed after a person dies. Robert Stern of Boston University’s CTE Center, reported that his research shows that there is a strong correlation between players developing CTE and length of time that they played football. The recent study shows that the risk of developing CTE doubled every 2.6 years that a player played football independent of the number of concussions sustained by the player. Stern is not confident in the current helmet technology protecting athlete’s brain from sub-concussive impacts which are associated with the risk of developing CTE. 

Sterns lab currently has funding through National Institutes of Health to research methods for developing diagnostic tests that can be used to diagnose CTE during life. Having a reliable test for CTE will allow researchers to find out how common CTE is, provide a diagnosis so that people can seek treatment and identify protective risk factors that will further the understanding of CTE and inform prevention strategies. Stern and his colleagues are focusing efforts on finding biomarkers in the blood and trying to attach a tracer to Tau proteins that could be seen on a PET scan as potential diagnostic tests for CTE.

CLICK HERE to read even more about this evolving area attempting to match science with safety.

The Nomination Categories are:

  • Individual with a Brain Injury
  • Family Member / Partner / Friend
  • Healthcare Professional - Working in the Brain Injury Community
  • Supporter / Advocate - Making Contributions in an Official Capacity

Awards will be presented at the BIAMD Annual Conference General Session on Thursday, March 26, 2020, at the Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City, Maryland. 

Nominations should be received by no later than March 1, 2020 to allow us adequate time to select the award recipient and make arrangements for them to attend the awards ceremony.  

Photo by  Marek Rucinski  on  Unsplash
Injuries and hospital admissions involving sharable two-wheeled electric scooters are on the rise in the U.S., a new study finds.
Most concerning, researchers say, is that nearly a third of patients showing up at hospitals after an accident involving the powered, standing scooters had a head injury.

"While most people recover from head injuries, there is going to be a subset with long term disability and life changes," said coauthor Dr. Benjamin Breyer of the University of California, San Francisco. "I would like people to be aware of the risks and protect themselves."

It probably shouldn't be a surprise that people are turning up in ERs with injuries associated with electric scooters, Breyer said. "The market was flooded with these scooters," he said.

One big problem is that riders often don't wear helmets, Breyer said. And it's not clear how to fix that problem because the decision to take an e-scooter can be spur of the moment, he added.

Although concerned about injuries, Breyer isn't anti-scooter.
"I think it's a great way to promote active commuting and get people out of their cars," he said.

To take a closer look at the rate of injuries around the nation involving electric scooters, Breyer and colleagues turned to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which provides estimates of the number of injured people turning up at U.S. emergency rooms based on a sample of hospitals.
As reported in JAMA Surgery, the researchers discovered that e-scooter injury rates had increased dramatically in just four years: the incidence more than doubled during those years, rising from 6 per 100,000 in the population to 19 per 100,000.

CLICK HERE to learn more about this emerging cause of brain injuries.
MSKTC Recruiting Participants for TBI Consumer Factsheet Testing

The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center ( MSKTC) is recruiting individuals with traumatic brain injury and their caregivers to provide feedback on new consumer factsheets on a wide range of topics such as behavior problems and sleep apnea.

To be eligible, participants must be at least 18 years old. Participants will receive a $25 gift card for their time. Call (202) 403-5600 or email  to register.  
Photograph: Grant Halverson/Getty Images
The abrupt retirement of the magnificently talented Carolina Panthers linebacker serves as a reminder we are all complicit in the trauma that football inflicts on players
Luke Kuechly, the magnificently talented Carolina Panthers linebacker who has  announced his retirement at the age of 28 , gave fans much to savour in his shortened career. It often seemed he was covering the entire field on his own, popping up everywhere to smother a running back or chase down the opposition’s star quarterback. If he wasn’t the best linebacker of his generation, he was close enough that it didn’t matter and the dizzying list of accomplishments during his shortened career speaks for itself: 2012 defensive rookie of the year, 2013 defensive player of the year, five All-Pro first teams, seven Pro Bowls, a Super Bowl appearance, league leading tackler twice, the leading overall tackler in the NFL since his debut for the Panthers nearly eight years ago. By all accounts,  he was a gentleman off the field too , and the warm tributes of those who played  with him , and  against him , are a testament to that.
However, despite Kuechly’s myriad accomplishments, the most enduring single image of his career will not be of him taking down a quarterback or his appearance in Super Bowl 50. Instead, it will be of Kuechly being carted off the field in tears after suffering a concussion against the New Orleans Saints in 2016. His game was based on delivering crushing blows to opponents, exactly the kind of calculated violence that helps make the NFL America’s most popular league, and also makes the audience – and I include myself as a journalist and a fan – complicit in the trauma the game inflicts on players. After all, if there’s no audience, there’s no  NFL .

Kuechly has never spoken about why he was in tears that day, but what we as fans saw and what it said about the public’s changing relationship with football is important.

CLICK HERE for the Guardian's story on Kuechly's choice to leave the NFL at 28 after 3 devastating concussions.
2) What We are Reading We Think
You Might Find Interesting
Administering a special needs trust (SNT) is a very important job, which often has a profound impact on the life of persons with disabilities. In most cases, the SNT trustee is providing the beneficiary goods and services that improve their quality of life. In some cases, the SNT trustee may be the only person looking to the beneficiary’s welfare. Thus, the role of SNT trustee is often a more substantial role than in many other types of trusteeships. The great SNT trustee is a solid financial manager, accountant, record keeper, legal counselor, public benefits advisor, social worker, housing coordinator, civil rights advocate, guardian, and life coach. This is why author Kevin Urbatsch published his book titled Administering the California Special Needs Trust.

With the checklists, form documents and law summaries included, Administering the Special Needs Trust contains a wide range of information for those charged with the responsibility of managing an SNT for persons with disabilities.

CLICK HERE for more on this wonderful resource which is a terrific guide for anyone needing or interested in special needs trusts.
1) Quote We Are Contemplating...

"Some days, 24 hours is too much to stay put in, so I take the day hour by hour, moment by moment. I break the task, the challenge, the fear into small, bite-size pieces. I can handle a piece of fear, depression, anger, pain, sadness, loneliness, illness. I actually put my hands up to my face, one next to each eye, like blinders on a horse."

Have you ever clicked on the pictures posted at the end of every #5ThoughtsFridays? Try it. You might learn something fun!
Photo by  Daniel Lincoln  on  Unsplash

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