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Friday, October 28, 2011

Teen’s Fatal Brain Injury In Football Game Raises Questions

Ridge Barden, a 16-year-old lineman from John C. Birdlebough High School in Phoenix, N.Y., died after he was hit during a high school football game Friday night, Oct. 14, 2011, in upstate New York. (AP/Barden Family)

Ridge Barden, a 16-year-old lineman from John C. Birdlebough High School in Phoenix, N.Y., died after he was hit during a high school football game Friday night, Oct. 14, 2011, in upstate New York. (AP/Barden Family)

More than 125 former professional football players have filed a lawsuit against the National Football League and helmet-maker Riddell, claiming the NFL should do more to warn current players about the dangers of head injuries and help retired players who are suffering from them.

But what about teen athletes, whose undeveloped brains are even more at risk?

Schools have been responding with new testing and training procedures, and state lawmakers are passing new laws to protect student athletes. But that wasn’t enough to help 16-year-old high school defensive tackle Ridge Barden, who collapsed during a game earlier this month and died within hours from a brain bleed.

He was wearing a Riddell helmet and his coaches pored over every play Barden was in and couldn’t find a hard hit or tackle.

He showed no evidence of a previous concussion and he didn’t have a history of head trauma, though he did tell his coach he’d had a helmet-to-helmet hit during the game. Experts think he likely had had a previous concussion but didn’t know it, and then suffered from something called “second impact syndrome.”

According to the website sportsmd, second impact syndrome, or SIS, “occurs when an athlete returns to sport too early after suffering from an initial concussion. The athlete does not need to receive a strong second blow to the head to set the effects in motion. The athlete may receive only a minor blow to the head or a hit to the chest or back that snaps the head enough to have the brain rebound inside the skull.”

Dr. Donald Phykitt, director of sports medicine at the Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, Pennsylvania, says you can have a concussion without losing consciousness, and that symptoms of a brain injury sometimes aren’t picked up in a normal doctor’s exam or a CAT scan. Phykitt says often the best way to recover from a concussion is total rest.


  • Dr. Donald Phykitt, director of sports medicine at the Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, Pennsylvania

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  • Paul, Boston MA

    I wish more Doctors and scientists would speak out about the stupidity of youth boxing…

  • Alfred

    This is another one of those sports which are stupid along with youth boxing mentioned earlier.
    What would one expect after repeated banging of the head or body against another person or object?
    It is probably the cumulative effect of these “hits”.
    I was a football manager in high school for two years. I saw plenty of hits, also enough dislocated and broken shoulders, strained muscles, broken hands and arms along with the ever vulnerable knee.
    Three of my class mates were able to get out of being drafted and going to Vietnam in those days due to strained or bad knees due to football. That’s about the only benefit from the game at that time.  About 6 years prior to my managerial duties, one of our running backs suffered a brain concussion and was hospitalized for well over 3 months. He emerged later with some brain damage as many of us noticed in his verbal actions, etc.
    This is an animal sport.
    However its all part of American culture of feeding the masses their daily SEX, SCREEN and SPORT.
    I’d rather go for a long walk anytime.

  • Katta

    As an old saying from the early days of the health movement.
    You are as old as your connective tissues.
    Feed your body correctly goes a long way to one’s general health.
    Even for the fittest who practice in extreme sports and even football,  things will happen.

    As an even older saying from Robert Green Ingersoll:
    In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences. 

  • http://www.hp-add.com Richard R. Williams, PhD

    One of the most useful ways of evaluting mile traumatic brain injury is with the use of computerized EEG also know as quantitative EEG, but there was no mention of it during your recent discussion of
    sports unjuries.  Whereas MRI and CT scvan are of very little value, the QEEG can be of 95% accuracy.  Also, baseline QEEG’s can be done on athletes for use later witj another QEEG for statistical comparison.  The QEEG is easy to do, cost eefctive and takes from 30 to 45 minutes to perform.  Richard R. Williams, PhD  Kalamazoo, MI

  • Brain Injury Professional

    It’s important to note that although legislation is being adopted at the state level that delays a student’s return to play after a suspected concussion, health professionals clearing these students to return to the field are using different tools and expertise to make those decisions. Ultimately, no one can say with certainty if it’s “safe” for a student to return to play. It’s guesswork.

  • Liz Wisniewski

    I just keep wondering why kids are still playing this game, or adults for that matter.  Sitting in the football stands was always fun as fall arrived, but now I just cannot do it – watching people take such risks with their lives for their glory, or my entertainment.  

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/AIHJKCLWB6MGJSDWIJ4QOUZQ24 Christina

      So true Liz.  Football and worse, war….both so stupid and senseless….neither any more appropriate for boys to die in than any girl.  Yet, we have people stuck in the myth we are “defending our country” which sounds all too much like “defending the ball”.  Both only played out in the end for money and “power”, over glorified like some “brave” or heroic act.  I watch football on occasion only because its the “Super Bowl” and the “American Way”, yet always think the guys look like they are a bunch of wild animals killing each other.  Ever notice how we as a culture even treat war like its some football game, under pretense of “pushing back” the alleged “enemy” or opposing “team”? Seriously need to wonder about parents that let their kids to these things……

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