John Doherty

Photo of John Doherty

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In the wake of last week's column that labeled Notre Dame “ACL U,” due to the woes of the Lady Irish, men’s basketball freshman D.J. Harvey hurt his left knee that night during his team's double-OT loss to Louisville.

In postgame comments, Irish head coach Mike Brey hoped it wasn’t a torn ACL, saying an MRI would tell the tale.

The following morning, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association published a new position paper entitled “Prevention of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury.”

What timing. At the conclusion of last week’s column, I had advised that ACL injury prevention programs were extremely effective and should be followed. Now, thanks to the NATA, I could share the most up-to-date information on how such a program should be structured.

Not so fast my friends.

Later on Wednesday, a bit of good news came out of South Bend; Harvey’s left ACL was unharmed. The injury was “just” a bone bruise. Only four weeks (a bit optimistic in my view) would be lost.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame alumnus and Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman must have had his own knees buckle when he heard that his father and senior adviser, Scotty Bowman, was discussing goalie Corey Crawford’s mysterious “upper-body injury.” During an interview on a Toronto radio station, the older Bowman said Crawford was probably suffering from post-concussion syndrome, not the rumored vertigo.

You say, “To-may-to.” I say, “To-mah-to.”

Vertigo or dizziness is a symptom of post-concussion syndrome. Regardless, father Bowman’s revelation is not good news for a team stuck in neutral.

That evening, the Hawks’ United Center co-tenants had their own medical misfortune. Guard Kris Dunn made a spectacular dunk late in the Bulls’ loss to the Warriors. However, he lost his balance releasing the rim and dove face first into the floor, dislocating and chipping two front teeth. The video was gruesome.

Yet, head coach Fred Hoiberg told the media after the game that Dunn was not concussed. By Thursday morning, we all knew differently. Dunn was in the NBA concussion protocol and “out indefinitely.”

Of course it was a concussion. Hoiberg would have been wiser to take a wait-and-see approach in the immediate aftermath.

However, the real news regarding sports-related head injuries on Thursday was made in Boston. And the main reason was the mainstream media’s misreporting and sensationalization.

Scientists at Boston University published a study that, according to the Washington Post, “shows hits to the head, not concussions, cause CTE.”

Numerous other media outlets mimicked the Post, as if this was some startling revelation.

When in fact, it wasn’t.

For years, BU has published data that show years playing a collision sport are associated with CTE but number of concussions is not.

This latest study reported on four teenagers whose brains were autopsied one day to four months after they had suffered a head injury. It also reported in detail how lab rats’ brains respond chemically and structurally to direct-contact concussions and to explosions.

The study did not determine the incidence of CTE, nor did it establish a numeric threshold for hits to the head. Most importantly, it in no way proved that a single blow to the head — with or without concussion — starts one on an irreversible road to CTE — even if that was the conclusion of far too many reporters.

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John Doherty is a licensed athletic trainer and physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at jdoherty@comhs.org. Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT

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