Experts Believe NHL Concussions Down This Season, But League Won't Release Numbers
A number of NHL execs, activists and medical professionals who treat concussions "think there were fewer" in the league this season, but "no one is sure if concussions are down this season because the NHL refuses to release any statistics" about the injuries, according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. Finding concussion stats from sources outside the NHL has "become impossible because of the league’s injury policy," as teams are "not required to list a player’s specific injury and commonly use terms like 'upper-body injury' in their reports, which makes it too difficult to track concussions." There are "two reasons the NHL and the NHLPA went silent on the topic aside from general comments that each group takes the issue seriously." The first reason is because the league is "facing four lawsuits over concussions and more may be coming." New Hampshire-based TIG Insurance, which issued liability policies to the league from '89-'01, "is also suing the NHL." The NHLPA’s silence is "puzzling, given its often adversarial relationship with the league." However, it is "sensitive to the issue because of its involvement in the concussion working group." One of the "results of the group’s work was better diagnosis of concussions, which caused the reported number of them to rise." But when some media reports "labelled the increase a crisis and questioned the attitude of hockey’s overseers, those involved with the concussion group withdrew from speaking to reporters" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/29).
MEETING OF THE MINDS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jeffrey Sparshott noted President Obama today will host a White House summit on raising "awareness of sports-related concussions among young athletes" and filling in the "gaps in scientific research into brain injuries." The Obama administration is "highlighting new commitments to address concussion concerns," including a $30M study by the NCAA and Defense Department, $25M from the NFL to promote youth sports safety and a National Institutes of Health project to "measure the effects of repetitive concussions" (WSJ.com, 5/28). In N.Y., Shear & Belson note Obama "will not, however, call for new regulations or legislation aimed at requiring the use of specific helmets or restricting certain sports for young children" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/29). CBSSPORTS.com's Jon Solomon wrote the NCAA/Pentagon project will create a database to "comprehensively track the natural histories of concussions." The "goal is to produce research on concussion risks, treatment and management by studying how concussions evolve over time" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/28).