Brain on the brain

Sitting at home with a back injury today, it’s the brain I have on the brain.

The athletic pursuits of Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard, who hasn’t played hockey in a year, amount to coaching kids and going for walks, as he waits to get better. He says kids today “are frightened about concussions”

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As someone who has suffered multiple concussions, and works in sports daily, it’s a good and bad thing to read at the same time. From the stories on Derek Boogaard earlier this year – I challenge you to read that and take a hard line on keeping fighting in hockey – to the extended absence of top skill players like Savard and Crosby, head injuries have been brought to the forefront.

Boogaard isn’t coming back and, as we wonder if Savard, Crosby or Chris Pronger ever will return to the ice, I, like many sports observers, have been giving a lot of thought to how important our brains are. It’s kind of ridiculous really that we have to be reminded of the importance of our brain, but so often we leave it out of the equation when we think about the physical body and athletic skills. Even with the supposed “increased awareness” of head injuries now, you still saw in the Rangers-Flyers 24/7 series on HBO how Peter Laviolette pressured Claude Giroux to return because he “looked like a million bucks out there.”

You wonder if this level of awareness of head injuries in sports would have changed things for a guy like Muhammad Ali. If you haven’t watched the “Muhammad and Larry” episode from the ESPN 30 for 30 series, get a hold of a copy. Ali still looked good physically, in the mirror, but his brain was a mere image of the greatness that had been. He couldn’t operate that physique at the same level and he took a pummelling he shouldn’t have.

It’s not concussion-related, but more bad news regarding an athlete’s brain.

The National Post reported that Hall of Fame baseball player Gary Carter’s brain cancer is getting worse.

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My family used to spend part of Spring Training in Vero Beach, Fla., and I remember a young Carter winking at my mom when she was trying to get me his autograph. It’s hard to picture him dealing with this inoperable tumour at age 57, losing his balance and dealing with severe headaches.

Sorry for the depressing theme today, but my prayers go out to any athlete who once accomplished great things with their bodies that is now being severely limited by a brain condition.

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~ by Nathan White on January 23, 2012.

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