Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Are We Going About Football Concussions All Wrong?

What follows is kind of a stream of consciousness brain storm on my part. NFL concussions noodle there way into my head when I thought of the mechanism of some concussions, and how it is tied, in part, to the neck's ability to 'whip' the head, increasing rates of acceleration the head and brain experience. I am not a doctor or a physicist - I'm just trying to look at this from a different angle.


The problem with the football helmet is that it really isn't designed at all to protect against the acceleration/deceleration head injury that is the concussion.It is designed to protect the head against blunt force traumas, and it does that very well. The skull fractures that were the problem of football in its earliest collegiate days are almost a non-issue today. Where we hit boundaries in the concussion conversation is when we continue to think of the helmet as a means of concussion prevention when it is nothing of the sort.

Football's concussion problem stems from the fact that the head sits on what is essentially a whip. The neck has a wide range of forward and side to side motion, and in many concussions, that motion gets the head moving at a much higher rate of speed in a big collision than the body. That, in turn, worsens the damage suffered by the brain when it moves during the collision and impacts the skull. So what if the first step toward reducing concussions isn't making the helmet stronger, but instead reducing the neck's ability to literally whip the brain into the skull?

Focusing on the neck instead of the head changes everything. You might look at a firm brace that connects between the shoulder pads and the helment, or even a halo like device, either of which preserves lateral head movement while stopping the whipping action of the head. Perhaps it would even be worth examining retired players who used to use the now obsolete neck roll pad of the 1980s. I don't have the exact solution, I'm just saying that I think we're trying to create the wrong solutions right now.

Of course, any solution that reduces forward/backward/sideways acceleration to keep it in line of with that of the body is going to have some critics. Criticisms that a neck device would change the game should be roundly criticized. The game is always changing, and it needs to change in some way to prevent concussions. And this solution would not end concussions, it reduce them. But other criticisms should be examined. Would stiffening the neck possibly increase the risk of spine injuries? Would the reduced forward/backward/side-to-side motion create a significant increase in other very serious injuries? Those are the types of criticisms that should be examined, but which I can't answer at this point because this at the brainstorm level for me.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Lost! One Senator

Wisconsin can't find one of its Senators. Please post this sign in your neighborhood. We aren't sure this is so important as to warrant a reward, but maybe we'll put up some cheese and beer for her safe return to actually doing something to represent us in the U.S. Senate.

Help Wisconsin Find Its Senator!

America, Wisconsin needs your help. Senator Tammy Baldwin is missing. She has not been seen nor directly heard from since she was sworn in on 1/3/13. Rumor has it that she's shown up for votes, but there is zero evidence that it was actually her. Now "she" has shut down her entire senate office even though the Senate is still open.

We here in Wisconsin are very concerned by this turn of events. The person who previously held her senate seat, former Senator Herb Kohl, was seemingly missing from the Senate his entire political career. People would say they saw him at Milwaukee Bucks games, but those reports were as nebulous as Elvis sightings. Please help Wisconsin find its new junior senator!

Friday, July 12, 2013

We Told You, Ethanol Edition

It appears that some are finally coming to the conclusion that ethanol isn't a good thing:

But while federal support for ethanol appears to be as unstoppable as it is misguided, some individual states have shown the kind of backbone that could lead us toward a smarter energy policy. In June, Florida repealed its Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandated that gasoline contain 10 percent ethanol. And in May, Maine lawmakers approved a bill banning ethanol in gas, and asked the federal government to do the same.

A number of us tried telling everyone the big downside to ethanol over five years ago, saying the same things that it has taken everyone else years to figure out. Welcome on board, now it's time to get Washington's attention.

Jiblog on ethanol.
Badger Blog Alliance on ethanol.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial to the Fallen

It is Memorial Day. We often treat this as a day of celebration, of cookouts, drinks, and loved ones. In many ways, we should, as long as we remember our fallen, those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve this life of ours. They fought for brotherhood, but they fought for loved ones, too. But remember them in celebration.

I am blessed. I have many relatives and friends who have served, and vets who have returned. I am thankful for them every Veteran's Day. But for those of you have have served, and vets who have returned, please do be accepting of thanks this day. I know it is an emotionally complicated thing - today is for the fallen. But many people are supremely grateful that you are still here, and that they can still embrace you and express their gratitude.

Memorial Day is a busy day in American life. But if you do have time, stop by a local cemetery. Find a military grave that looks forgotten. Pause, remember the name, and quietly say thank you.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Happy Trails, Boots and Sabers.

My best wishes to Owen, Wendy, and their family. Boots and Sabers has closed shop (unlike Jiblog, which just SEEMS to have closed shop). I hope we can cross paths again one day.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Kermit Gosnell, Monster

If a man stood accused of stabbing hundreds of living, breathing people in the neck and severing their spinal cords, killing them, you'd know about it right? And if he was reckless in his killing, resulting in the deaths of a number of women, you'd be angry, wouldn't you? Heck, you'd probably even be following his trial. Not so fast on any of that, because that monster does exist, and he is on trial right now, and you probably don't know one thing about it because it has barely hit the national consciousness. So click here, and get your introduction to Kermit Gosnell.