WEEI>On Demand>>Chris Nowinski: The more armor you put on athletes the more likey they are to run into each other at reckless speeds

Chris Nowinski: The more armor you put on athletes the more likey they are to run into each other at reckless speeds

Oct 4, 2012|

Chris Nowinski, co-founder and president of the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) joined D&C to discuss head trauma in sports and his new documentary "Head Games." He chats about the research SLI is doing, how he's helping teach coaches and trainers how to diagnose and prevent concussions, and if the toughness culture in sports has changed.

Transcript - will not be 100% accurate

Welcome back Dennis and Callahan 6177790850. To hold a phone calls for a while we getting a visit from our friend Chris Liwienski it's -- -- ludicrous -- the yeah. The -- via cell -- these sports legacy institute. I always thought he would forget -- another animated thing yeah world famous shot we know that we know when he was nobody when he was just as washed up wrestler from Harvard. And and we get them on people it's it's kind of interesting. And people -- little notes. Right yes yes there you've attained a whole who. Main base elevation hasn't it you are you you have succeeded what is new gadgets today on SLI before we get to head games. Well we are making huge expansions nationally so we're knowledge training coaches in Chicago Public Schools we got LA unified public schools to cancel football practice last month and -- -- thousand coaches. To listen to me talk about concussions for an hour and a half thousand and only four of them said they had any previous concussion training. In 20121000. Got a thousand through it's without Russell concerning released that -- stepping up and then later this month we actually put together. He hit count symposiums. So it's our movement to we have pitch counts and baseball with a little kids don't Wear out their elbow sure. But we don't set any limit to how often we hit -- and head. And we're all we know if we commit to what they Wear out their brains and sort -- try to establish -- Still it would appear that that. Your institute is now about being proactive and and dealing with these things before they happen as opposed to before when you were just doing research and trying to determine a cause and effect. A brain injuries and brain problems correct well -- and both there are senator Boston University were really -- moving beyond bring banking to let's get a treatment for this -- people are alive in the -- how to diagnose it. But SLI yet we now that we have -- the law in the state that says you have to Nazi doctor before you go back when we diagnose concussions we do good job. But we don't do good job preventing them and we don't do good job diagnose and is there not enough data to prove the point you need more data white continued research don't you know the answers that that these concussions caused these kinds of problems yes yeah we when we do we do know that all -- has to do because. The disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy in some people whom we don't know why in some people are not and others so there's genetic dispositions when he -- they routes you can figure if you want your child going into context Wharton. But we also -- we honestly -- diagnosis -- people without that we can't really develop drugs to intervene because you can't measure the impact -- as the as the the the -- I mean it in in a negative way as the awareness of what it is you're doing over there has it made it easier for you to contact people and families of people who have passed away and said can we take -- brain has that -- become major Korea. It has become much easier in fact I don't have to make that many calls and more consuming and was call well. If they know what the program's existence we also have. Over 500 athletes -- signed up to donate their brain when it passed way and be followed in some of them I'm fortunate half past two civics have they done. You guys -- -- -- but this -- a New Hampshire opened over Paul Butler retired physician member of the school board. Who wants to eliminate football is too dangerous too many concussions. Wants to eliminate youth football in high school football. Do you worry about people like that you know kind of piggybacking on all of your good work consent let's just get rid of as barbaric sport. We are as funny yeah I knew that would come up and and that comes up every year somebody says this -- and that now they're using our researchers say I I hope would it be you know that one person saying that's not gonna make you go away. So I see this is a positive way to continue to raise standards to make it safer as one of the best and now it's like to draw now is that we do so much to protect the NFL players. But we don't have any of those things in place for young children like to think of Tom Brady got a concussion on the field he would have a doctor on the -- to evaluate him pulled out. McNeill seven year olds don't have that -- they do and high school they -- and high school. Rather it I -- I sat there with them and you get forms to fill out if you have if you get Ding day. Can use that word anymore and you know if there's any. -- suspicion -- a possible mild concussion you know you have to go through the vehicle that test the blog as a baseline the baseline test you know dark you have to proceed doctors use it that I think those. Those coaches you spoke to many of -- in fear right now of sending it out too soon right I mean they'll be guys who do them and they'll begin as always going to be these no -- but don't you think. The message has gotten through. Maybe not to the seven year old put it to Colton high school. Right it has gotten through college high school but we have to consider that only about 42% of high schools have an athletic trainer in the school. So half of them have a medical infrastructure and the other half do not so. We're not everywhere but we do but we are rapidly getting much much better and that's exciting NC Chris as it pertains to concussions and head injuries what would a perfect world in your mind look like ten years from now you courier to succeed -- when you're trying to do. We know one of the obscene things -- my mentor doctor Robert Cantu said in his recent book was. That kids shouldn't be getting hit in the head before the age of fourteen on a regular basis and you step back and you start to realize that. Maybe that's -- crazy idea knowing that the that the problems youths have with head trauma like they have by mechanically -- little tiny week next gigantic -- especially when they're young we know it affects them developmentally and when they get concussions. And we know they're when they're often too young to speak up when they have the -- we asked the college players to speak up from the sums wrong but it's a seven year old doesn't recognize -- issue -- -- knowing those things. You know all the big context the big hits you know may be moving goes to high school beyond the isn't so crazy like USA hockey moving up the checking H soccer moving up the heading -- football moving up maybe the contact page or. Just the exposure elected me not playing ten games when your feet you're not hitting for right we would you rate those things. I think overall where we're headed. Somebody said this to many in the days ago maybe I heard a game. Helmet. Protect the skull and the brain right that's the idea if they have got it does a little bit with the brain but really it was invented because some people were dying of a skull fracture. And so when your brains actually floating in fluid. Helmets not going to stop but it might slow down a little bit but would you think about the space you have and -- only a couple of inches it's not going to be the kuril. So would be the -- No it's the let the other held devices are you air sounds crazy but if they remove the helmets we had leather helmets. And you've heard this question a thousand times and -- face masks what happened what would happen. You would have some people dying like the old days from from severe brain injuries -- skull fractures. But you have dramatically fewer hits in the hand and so you probably treat -- -- diseases exceed the so it's it's it's a trade off. But what the problem -- -- the -- we've had as the more armor you put on people the last -- -- field the more likely they are to run into people right reckless speeds. We're talking with -- whiskey co-founder and president of the sports legacy institute -- this question doesn't apply to seven and eight year old that applies to kids playing and and and older young people playing. The toughness culture where they don't -- reported. Where they're trying to get back on the field even though they know they've been injured has that changed and in in the last couple of years that toughness culture. It has changed my my new favorite piece of data is that. Between 20102011. -- can diagnose concussions -- army navy and air force football double. Because the players to start reporting they started reporting more concussions so. It is changing slowly. And it's gonna take year after year of education I think the best analogy we have is that kids know not -- -- their way through neck injuries. You know when you twit you hurt your neck you fall in your head and you can't move and armor shrine. They recognize don't move that scare some yes yes but that took in annual education was like it went just figured this out right so when we get the annual education people realistic and protect the brain like and how many brains she got nine annual collection. We have over a 135. -- as well -- get judges. 31 before you -- -- and don't forget -- shut us at at and what does this expansion mean I assume. It's funny CT in a very high percentage. We are we are I was like all. Not all well you know you've played more than ten years ago and exports football ice hockey boxing. The risk is very high in in our brain -- -- -- -- -- by example so doesn't really tell us how widespread it is population but it's not what it's like this is a really really rare thing and a lot of guys. And even some guys who wouldn't expect and you know the youngest cases now seventeen. And it's gonna keep trickle even lower as we get younger -- you have a seventeen year old brain in your collection -- generals who died with CTV. As a football player and -- dive of second impact syndrome meaning -- missed me concussion. While went where -- see -- he was went into high school yeah in Kansas yeah Nathan -- and his parents I assume and heard about your. And the the the brain bank brand and all the good work you've done and and they wanted to know did you bring me. Closure for them any resolution in their mind that I mean duty. That he had problems before he passed. No I mean is it when you have CT at seventeen it's just -- -- small area so it's not enough brain disease to really affect the way you behave. But I think that brings down the cautious parents actually came up we met them last summer while and it was a tearful meeting. You know Chris this is probably gruesome question I ask but when we hear about these athletes and and non athletes committing suicide in the shooting themselves in the Chester -- shall by not. Should himself in the head. -- -- understand by that that they probably want to have their brains examined even if they haven't contacted you is that what that's all about. The outskirts it's. Kind of scary and an unknown phenomenon named -- There is a percentage of people who shoot themselves in the chest whether or not you know as a regular suicide bomb in suicides. -- are very complex thing what. In a case like the -- and leading and write a note saying study my brain yes. You know and then other people toxins -- shot themselves in the Cha cents or football players. You know I. We can't assume that they want us to look at their brain but you know. And there was no note or anything in Junior -- -- show until Machida wasn't note but I only had when he was starting the break say anything about it do we know anything about sales. Feelings and why is motivation to shoot himself in the chest. No I don't I'm not aware of any note that I don't know anything about his motivation but you didn't get his brain know his brain center and age. And today's study it. Then not much CT I know there and to be evidence society. There is there the results aren't out yet and house and I don't know if there ever will be released. But you know I donated if you don't want them released that you want to by the data but probably the sentiments of privacy they might they mean you know the what was said about the -- case was the media attention and we the people on their -- right at the -- you should -- -- that's not the way it should be so that's why it lost university like our policy is. We never talk about it. We just never -- what cases were pursuing or not. But the you know the media took it to a level that are really made us think about how we treat this going. Which on the positive side speaks to the high profile nature what you and your people were doing. People are now aware of this five years ago nobody would have been on their -- sameness assailed donate your son's brain heart to this to this. Our organization also -- -- games we know the book head games written by you had games -- revealing documentary well what's so what's up with the games those about it. Yet it's exciting because you remember Steve James the director from hoop dream journal of the greatest documentaries of all time. You know he he decided to two. But make had games in to a bookings are so into it into a documentary and -- at the last your filming and he's against a genius he's a great storyteller and so. To have you know part of the problem with you know raise awareness is having this. Story in a long enough format that really forces you think about and so to have an hour and a half of learning about -- some of the science but these stories of people who really suffered what can really happen. It's had an effect on people and gotten great reviews from New York Times and LA times and so I'm just excited to get emails every day from people and their lives changed from watching has it well how do you get to see it. It premiered two weeks ago and a new York and LA now it's going to be in Boston Common actually. Starting tomorrow -- -- yet the -- But it's also on demand on iTunes on FaceBook now excellent value in it. Like I'm on the first half. In the first half do you where you this the paint in your face like you do when you Ruslan do we get to see that they stayed there is a significant amount of old wrestling footage really strict secrecy -- had seen the glory days. What what and what -- and -- down the top sure something's crimson engine. Right I'm more crimson short the first owner shorts the second one breweries. With the poverty H on the -- Even very yeah you're out and did that it wasn't exactly. Did you win I mean obviously you're a good guy did you win. I I -- sometimes you know I am the youngest male hardcore champion in history of the company. And I found that out from reading with the hardcore hardcore mean use objects shares to cash -- something -- just you know. That the funny thing about that championship those are never held it long enough to actually -- -- picture taken with a belt because I won and lost in the same match twice. A lot because of fun out of Wikipedia that's still counts yeah that I mean youngest -- champion -- did you quit or get fired. Well it is 2003 -- stopped because my headaches for five years. Yeah I -- applicable wrong. So you actually had to give up wrestling. Because of the national drama yeah and was that reluctantly did you wanna keep doing right mean that the whole thing -- that promise for the book was dealer got kicked in the head by Barbary Dudley Hartford Civic Center. Bad concussion but didn't realize that mattered and so for five weeks like a wrestling working every day in -- it just so much worse that. After laughed the reason I stopped as an -- sleepwalking. And after my last match and will open for my hotel room having jumped off the bed and nightstand. While and that's what scared me straight -- that time I was just too messed up that can give it up about getting sick for years are you asymptomatic now. Now no now actually at four concussions this summer so now. So this summer -- over. What are we doing about three -- off the -- into the coffee table and it -- importance of the morning basketball game which I'm -- gonna be retired from -- excellence. Fort Smith. Is this fourth of it is not going noise of it that's it's not been good. He is crystal -- he co-founder and president sports legacy institute the film is called head games check it out iPod iTunes FaceBook FaceBook and -- Eagles tomorrow panacea good luck continues to -- Chris Everett and Kelly where those little -- insurance --

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