Why Sidney Crosby's Concussion is the Best Thing That Happened for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Victims
(Image via Wikipedia via pointnshoot’s flickr stream)
In two words: Public Understanding. While Sidney Crosby’s recent difficulties recovering from the effects of multiple concussions are unfortunate, they lead to an important teachable moment.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury can cause long-standing and debilitating effects. Despite this, however, victims of MTBI often face skepticism in two notable ways, particularly in the injury litigation context.
First, many argue that without a loss of consciousness a person cannot suffer a traumatic brain injury. Medically this is simply wrong. There is absolutely no need to be knocked unconscious to suffer a traumatic brain injury or to suffer long term consequences from traumatic brain injury.
On the face of it the checks that Sidney Crosby took which caused his brain injury were relatively unmemorable in the hard hitting NHL. He was not knocked out. He stood back up and seemed to be generally ‘ok’ following these hits. He skated off the ice on his own (much like an individual walking around a little dazed after a motor vehicle collision). Despite this there is no doubt he suffered real brain injury. His injury, and the circumstances that caused it, help dispel this myth.
The second type of scrutiny often faced by brain injury victims is that they need to ‘suck it up’ and get over it. How can you have long lasting effects if you weren’t knocked out? Why can’t you just ‘shake it off’ and get back to work? Are you malingering? You don’t look hurt, why aren’t you working?
Again, Sidney Crosby is a prime example that such injuries can and do lead to long term disability. No one will argue that Sidney Crosby is a malinger or a wimp. He is one of the highest funcitoning athletes of this generation. Nobody reaches this level of success without inherent toughness, work ethic and a high pain threshold. The top of the line doctors treating Sidney’s injuries confirm he is not fit to return to work. This serves as a great example that caution is the order of the day when returning to work following traumatic brain injury. The recovery period can be lengthy. Sometimes career ending.
If nothing else, Sidney Crosby’s injuries have gone a long way in educating the public that there is nothing mild about mild traumatic brain injury.